Monday, October 5, 2009
Turbo Puppy gets examined by the veterinarian prior to receiving her vaccine.
I believe I made a huge blunder with my puppies today. They were to visit the vet for the first time for their very first vaccines. Of course I had a crate for them to travel in, but I did not introduce them to the crate properly, and I hope I haven’t scarred these poor puppies for life. Here’s what should have happened:
The crate should have been left opened for a while (over a couple of days) in the puppy play area for the babies to explore and walk in by themselves. The object of this activity is for them to go in and come out at will, knowing that they would not be trapped in the crate for the rest of their lives. Then I should have locked the door with them in there briefly, once they were comfortable, then open the door to teach them that they may be locked in, but they would be released before they reach adulthood.
Although it has always been in the puppy room, the crate was kept locked until yesterday (it wasn’t very clean). The puppies explored it, but were not too excited about it. I left some food in there for them and a toy, but Cody ate the food, fished out the toy, and disappeared under the dinning table with it. So here’s what happened this morning before the trip to the vets:
I gathered up all the little darlings, making sure to kiss each puppy on the head (I know, I couldn’t resist), then I unceremoniously shoved each puppy in the crate and slammed the door shut. Then I hauled them to the car, where they had never been, and drove them some 20 miles in heavy morning traffic to the vet where they were met by strangers wearing gloves who poked and prodded and finally stuck each with a needle.
They didn’t behave too badly. Someone cried for a bit during the car ride, but I sang to them and they settled down. One of them screamed in the waiting room, just to let everyone within earshot know that we were there.
Unfortunately there was no way of getting around the issue of meeting strangers. In an ideal world the puppies’ first encounter with strangers should not have been the vet or vet techs. However, I have had to protect these puppies because the threat of canine diseases is HUGE in Jamaica with so many stray, unvaccinated dogs roaming the streets. There are no leash laws or licenses in Jamaica, and very few people who own dogs bother with shots.
Some diseases, like Parvo, will live in the soil for years and infect dogs, much to the chagrin of their unsuspecting owners. Consequently, my puppies have had no exposure to strangers, and I’m afraid it will have to stay that way until the puppies receive all of their shots. My vet has warned me about this, and so has other experienced breeders. Someone once told me that he lost his entire litter of rottweiler puppies to Parvo! I cannot take that risk, though I know that at this stage in the puppies’ development, it is critical for them to be exposed to many different people.
Now it’s late, and the puppies have all gone to bed. They got play time in their kennel today for a really long time, but I haven’t done anything today by way of individual handling because they had such a big day today. They are tired, I know. The house is so quite I can almost hear the cog wheels in my brain. Before long I will be heading to bed, and tomorrow we will all wake up bright, refreshed, and ready to explore more of this beautiful world.