We lost our furry best friend a few years ago. We are just now thinking about getting a new puppy. I am nervous, I don’t know how we can replace the one we lost?

I am sad to say you can’t; you just can’t. I am sorry for your loss; it is tough to lose our furry family members. Your question is especially relevant for me, as we are getting a new puppy. Many of you know, we lost our excellent companion dog, “Carly,” last year. You can refer to the article on knowing “When it is time to say Goodbye” in a prior edition. Since then we have been grieving and noticing the emptiness in our home. For some this lasts one day, months or years for us, it took ten months.

Each pet is unique and can’t be replaced. For that reason, it was important that your new pet has different qualities, like size, breed, and color, and the name will also be changed.) With that in mind we chose a smaller, mixed breed, that is chocolate colored, not tan like our Carly. This way you are not always comparing.

How old should a puppy be before leaving its mother?

I feel strongly that you should not get a puppy or kitten until they are 8-10 weeks old, and they have been with mom and siblings at least that long. This is a crucial development period and will result in a well-adjusted, confident pet. Puppies removed from their mothers even at six weeks or less, exhibit decrease appetite and weight loss, increased distress, increased mortality rates and higher susceptibility to disease. Also, bite inhibition needs to be learnt from the litter mates and the mother of the puppy, and this can’t occur if it is removed from the litter too soon. Puppies can also become too dependent on their new humans and have severe issues of separation anxiety when removed from their mothers through the transitional period.

Because of this, we are patiently waiting another couple of weeks before we pick up our new puppy. It is difficult to wait, as we are excited to get her, but it is so good for her to be with mom and siblings a little longer. Don’t get tempted, don’t do it, waiting will pay off later.

We are going to pick out a puppy, how do I know which one to choose?

There is a lot to know before choosing a puppy. I suggest you talk to your veterinarian before you go. However, here are a few necessary things to look for when observing the litter. A healthy puppy should have bright eyes with no crust or discharge. They should also have clean ears and clean gums and teeth. The pups should also have bright shiny coats and no sign of dirt or debris on their bodies or around their rear ends. There should be no pus or feces around their genital area.

A healthy pup will breathe quietly, without coughing or sneezing a lot. There should be no crust or discharge around the pup’s nostrils. It’s also important to check that the puppy walks and generally runs without limping or seeming stiff or sore. This will safeguard they do not have any hip or joint issues that could develop into something worse when they grow into adulthood.

However, for me here is how I chose the newest family member. If you remember I wrote about the controversial,” The Look,” regarding when to let, your pet go. Most say there is no such thing, but I experienced it. So, I wondered if the same would be true regarding starting with a new pet. I had already decided that I would be open to the possibility of sharing my life with another dog when I met the dog that would allow me to share its life. I was not actively looking but put it in God’s hands that He would bring the right fit across my path. Last week, in the middle of a busy morning, 10, six-week-old, mixed breed puppies came in, and it just so happened that one chocolate female was still available. I am not kidding you, we exchanged “A Look” that sealed the deal, and we knew we were meant for each other. Yes, I believe when your heart is right, and you are in tune with animals, that “The Look” does exist. So after a thorough medical exam and meeting the super kind breeder, she became ours.

One more thing about puppies and kittens.

They are expensive and can be even more expensive if not cared for properly! Before you get your next pet, remember the article I wrote several months ago about the financial responsibility of owning a pet. It is a significant investment to care for a pet properly. Please, if you cannot afford to take care of a living animal that depends on you, do not get a pet. Put the decision off until you are ready. Moreover, don’t get mad at your veterinarian about cost, instead, call your veterinarian and ask them what it cost to take care of a puppy or kitten BEFORE you adopt or purchase that fur baby. When you do this pet ownership thing right, it is an excellent experience for you and the animal.

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Gary Beall DVM
Chip Beall, DVM
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