How to choose a puppy or kitten

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Choosing to own a puppy or cat has to begin with making sure that everyone who lives in your house is on board. If one of you is not keen, the chances are that it is not going to be a happy experience, so it might be wise to shelve the idea for now.

It is also important in the case of buying a puppy, that at least one of you is around for some of the time on weekdays. Dogs are pack animals and will become anxious and unhappy if left on their own for long periods of time on a regular basis.

So assuming you have a full house of thumbs ups, it might be worth doing a bit of research into costs before you make a final decision. These costs can include:

  • Initial purchase price which can vary between breeds and pedigrees
  • Vaccinations – cats and dogs need to be vaccinated before they can go outside to avoid catching nasty diseases
  • Spaying and neutering should you decide to take this route
  • Ongoing costs of food, flea treatment and worming
  • Insurance – an absolute must to avoid expensive vet bills should your pet have an accident or develop a long term illness.

Once you have done your research and you are still keen to take the plunge, the following pointers should be taken into account. Some of these are more applicable to dogs than cats, but either way you want to make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder rather than a ‘breeding farm’.

Pointer 1 – Make sure you are confident that the person selling puppies or kittens is a responsible breeder. Ask questions such as ‘Can I meet the mother and father’, ‘Has the puppy been fully socialised?’ Ask to see photos so you can see the surroundings that they have been born into. Of course visiting is imperative and will give you a much better feel for the breeder as well.

Pointer 2 – If a puppy or kitten is being sold as a pedigree, ask to see the paper work of the parents first.

Pointer 3 – Don’t buy from a pet shop. While smaller animals might be well-cared for, larger animals may have come from trade farms and may have health and behavioural issues as a result. What’s more, you don’t want to be supporting this kind of cruel practice.

Pointer 4 – When you go to choose a puppy, be careful that your heart does not rule your head. Choose neither the timid runt of the litter, nor the gung-ho over-confident puppy. Both are likely to have behavioural issues and while these can be overcome an experienced trainer, it’s better to opt for the well-rounded middle pup if you have the choice.

Pointer 5 – Experts advise against buying two puppies at the same time, even if they are from the same litter. However cats will thrive with company, especially if you are out at work all day.

Pointer 6 – Make sure you research different breeds before making a choice. Both cats and dogs have very different temperaments and needs depending on their breed. This is more noticeable with dogs, some of whom need a lot more space and exercise than other and there are certainly differences in ease of training too.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Of course read around, but don’t become overwhelmed. Yes, it’s an important decision and yes there are certain rules you really must follow, but common sense and some research around should see you making the right choice for you.

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Ivy the puppy – a baptism of fire

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Life with a new puppy… where to begin? There are quite a few things you need to get used to when you welcome a new puppy into your life, most of which you simply will not have anticipated!

Obsessive photo taking

Anyone would have thought we were gunning for a place in the 2019 edition of the Guinness Book of Records for the most photos taken in one day! She’s sitting – snap. She’s standing – snap. She’s running  – snap. She’s sleeping – She’s done a poo – ok, we did draw a line there, but that first poo did not go unremarked upon! And I must admit to having taken a picture of one of her poos, because it looked like a Stonehenge statue, but I have been expressly forbidden by the whole family to share it, even tho’ I know you might be desperate to see it!

 

Sudden popularity

Seriously! You’d think there was a sudden world caffeine shortage, the number of friends who suddenly wanted to ‘pop over for a coffee’ – more than ever wanted to come and see our offspring when they were born! I guess watching a new puppy bombing round the garden and generally being adorable is a bit more interesting than watching a baby sleep, but still!

 

Complete chaos

By day two or three, our kitchen began to resemble a crêche. Brightly coloured balls and toys scattered all over the floor. A wire pen surrounding her night time cage. Paw prints on the glass doors and floor. Wee mats, like so many discarded diapers. Just mess everywhere!

 

Poop and wee

E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E! Yes we knew this was going to happen, but seriously how many times a day can one small furry creature empty its bladder and bowels!

 

Who spilled the super glue?

Someone has definitely applied superglue to our new puppy. Wherever we are, so is she. If you move, she needs to know where you are going. When you leave the room, she follows. When I am making supper, if I stand still more than five seconds, she comes and lies on my feet, ever hopeful I won’t move and she can fall asleep! And don’t talk to me about trying to go for a wee alone!

 

Cuteness overload

Ivy is undoubtedly gorgeous. A whirling bundle of fur who just wants to have fun and cuddles. Every morning she greets us as if we have been parted for months – I don’t think we have ever been showered with such unbridled affection!

 

We are all in love!

 

Bringing home Ivy

Picking up Ivy - with mum and breeder.jpgDylan and Ivy, with breeder Louise and Ivy’s mummy.

The day has arrived! Dylan and I are the chosen ones. At 11am one Saturday morning the two of us head off to pick up our new bundle of joy. We are beyond excited and more than a little nervous. Will she like us? Will she cry? How’s her mum going to feel? Will she pee in the car? When will she first eat? You get the picture!

I should point out at this stage that none of us have ever owned a dog. Yes, we had done a lot of research and reading around. Yes, we have lots of friends who have dogs. And yes, we feel well and truly prepared. But as anyone who has ever brought home an 8 week old puppy will know – we did not know what was about to hit us!

We turned up at the farm and were met by the lovely breeder Louise. We stayed for coffee while she gave us some tips, the best one being “Don’t overthink it!“. A bit late for that, but as I was about to learn, there really is no point in overthinking because you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Yes, certain breeds have particular traits, but every puppy is different and every puppy develops at a different rate. Fooling yourself into thinking that you can be totally in control is simply not worth it.

Once we had everything we needed, including some food Ivy was used to eating, we got in the car and drove off. It’s hard to describe the feeling. I think ‘vulnerable’ probably does the job. We suddenly felt so protective of this little bundle of fluff who was not only being separated from her mum, but also her three siblings. And she was now 100% dependent on us. Gulp!

When we got her home, we put her into the garden and she did her first wee! That’s potty training nailed then… NOT!!

She had a lot of visitors on the first day. On the one hand I was a little nervous it might be too much for her, but on the other, the most prominent advice for those first few days and weeks was making sure she was well socialised. Well, we definitely ticked that box.

And so, the sun set on our first day with Ivy and our first night loomed.

I had set up her crate in the sitting room for the first night and put a pen around it so she could go in and out to pee and poo, but not roam. My plan was to ‘sleep’ on the sofa to keep her company (I shall just wait for the laughter to die down before I proceed). I turned out the light and the crying commenced. Poor little Ivy was not happy. To be fair, she settled after about 20 minutes, but every time she needed to go to the toilet, it began again.

Suffice to say, not a lot of sleep was had and by 6 in the morning I was sitting in the garden with a cup of tea wrapped in a blanket while she pottered around. I sat there thinking that there’s something very special about being up and outside so early in the morning while everyone else is asleep. Not so special that I wouldn’t have rather been tucked up in bed catching up on some sleep, but watching Ivy diddle around our garden did make me truly happy.

And so the first 24 hours had passed. Ivy seemed happy and our confidence was already growing. This was going to be a breeze!

Preparing for our new bundle of joy!

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We couldn’t be more excited about the arrival of our new puppy. Obviously we can’t wait to get our hands on her little fluffy body, but the prospect of going out and buying all the necessaties is also pretty exciting. Exciting, interesting and downright mind boggling. It will also, I am now beginning to realise, be an exercise in extreme self control!

Apart from the obvious practical items such as a bed, food bowls and so on, there’s a baffling and tempting array of items we could buy… but perhaps shouldn’t! Obviously I want everything – she’s our new baby – and who doesn’t like to shop? Oh wait! Both my sons and my husband hate shopping. It’s all up to me then! Yay!

As I browse the puppy shelves in our local pet store, I keep hoping someone will come – not least because I just want to shout to the world we are getting a puppy. It was with great reluctance I put back the pink diamante collar and lead I had chosen – first because it was ludicrously expensive and secondly because I anticipate the flat refusal of Dylan (17) and Noah (14) to walk the dog sporting bright pink bling, no matter how gorgeous I think she looks! Fair! Likewise the pink puffa coat went back on the shelf.. sigh.

“I just want to shout to the world we are getting a puppy.”

I do, however, get a bright pink shiny dog tag for her collar with our surname, phone number engraved on one side and the fact that she is micro-chipped on the other. The shop assistant helpfully stops me from putting her name on there too – apparently it makes them easier to steal, which makes sense.

Next stop, toy shelf! Wow! Most of these toys are better than those my kids had as toddlers! And I suspect many will be as readily ignored! Still, she’s really going to need that squeaky donut and you can’t go wrong with a few balls either. Someone once told me puppies like to have a soft toy to cuddle. I remember snorting with disbelief at the time, but I now find myself fondling a particularly soft and cuddly bear. Just in time I remind myself of the number of once previously loved and now discarded soft toys we have gathering dust at home and put it back. I am soooooo strong!

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And so with a basket full of goodies – food, snacks, chews, balls, toys, collar, lead, bed and the rest – I make my way to the checkout and try to ignore the groaning of my credit card as I cough up the best part of £150! And I have no doubt, in the words of the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!”

 

 

 

Choices! – choosing the right puppy for us

photo-1525253013412-55c1a69a5738OMG! They are all so cute. How’s a girl supposed to decide!? OK, I need to backtrack. This is not just ‘my’ dog, it’s the ‘family’ dog, so I have to take other people into account… or at least look like I am taking them into account!

Noah: “I want a dog that can come up for cuddles on the sofa” (the rule breaker)

Dylan: “I want a medium sized dog, not too big and not too small” (he secretly wants sofa cuddles too, but he’s just too old to admit it!)

Me: “Intelligent and easy to train.. oh and its poo must smells of roses” (always the optimist!)

Ollie: “Whatever makes you all happy.” (he’s the best right?!)

Coco and Sadie (the cats): Non! Nein! Nyet! Just no! NO DOG! Please.” 

There are actual books written on choosing the right puppy for you, but frankly the decision was overwhelming enough without reading a book on the subject. I got the best advice from friends who already have a dog – people who know us, our family and how we roll. In the end found a breeder who had a litter of four cockapoos ready to leave in three weeks’ time. Yikes! This is really going to happen!

We turned up at the farm expecting to be torn and wanting to take them all home. Luckily, we all fell in love with the same one. She was flat on her back legs akimbo and  fast asleep with her little round tummy providing a bouncy pillow for her wriggling brothers and sisters. What’s more, she was a delicious brown and sable colour with unusual markings. It was love at first sight and we returned home with three weeks to prepare for the arrival of our bundle of joy!

I mean, seriously! Look at this irresistible little button-nosed dumpling!

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