I've been thinking about writing this blog post for a while but what finally got me to do it was a 9-week old border collie mix named Murphy who was given up to Rescue Rovers shortly after adoption form the breeder.
The breeder apparently had advertised that their puppies were all crate trained, potty trained and well socialized, sounds awesome right? Except when it came time to pick up the puppy, the excited prospective puppy parent (we'll call her Jane) met the breeder by way of them pulling up in their car with a passenger seat full of puppies. Jane was then told to pick the one she wanted.
Jane soon came to find out her new puppy, Murphy was certainly not crate trained, potty trained, or well socialized at all. Keep in mind, a puppy's critical socialization period is between birth and 3 months(12 weeks). At 9 weeks, this time has nearly ended for Murphy and he was nowhere near where he should be! He was fearful and would cry loudly at anyone who got near him. These are the signs of a puppy who hasn't been responsibly raised or cared for. Jane was given a sloppily put together "advice sheet" on how to care for Murphy in which among a pile of bad advice was the suggestion that she supplement the puppy's diet with baby formula- not puppy formula, which can be easily obtained from any pet store- human baby formula for a 9-week old puppy. The care sheet didn't have any breeder contact info at all, red flags all around.
So of course, with zero support from the breeder and coming to find that her new puppy was a fearful ball of nerves who was not crate trained as promised and was crying and biting people, the new puppy parent panicked and gave the puppy up to the rescue.
That's where I came in. The foster who took in the puppy had a very rough first night with Murphy. He bit her and sang her the song of his people all night long! Of course, I had her bring the puppy to me for puppy class. Murphy is only 9 weeks old, we can easily still turn this around!
Murphy showed up to puppy class with his tail between his legs. He did not want to participate so he sat on the sidelines and just watched. However, by the end of class, he was feeling much more comfortable and even ran around with the other pups. He was still very "bitey" but we just so happened to have a littler of 11 puppies available to help teach him about proper puppy etiquette. Between puppy class and help from his foster mom, brothers, and sisters, Murphy grew in confidence and became the happy, friendly and easily trainable border collie mix puppy he was meant to be!
(Photos: A nervous Murphy learning how to be a puppy for the first time with help from a litter of 11 puppies.)
But, Murphy is one of the lucky ones. We got to him in time, we turned his situation around. I can't help but think about his littermates and where they might be now. Will they be given up too? Will they be one of the dogs I or another trainer run into in our reactivity rehab classes? Will they be one of those puppies who live out their lives in a shelter or gets put down? Who knows, maybe they all got adopted by people who will immediately sign up for puppy classes and make sure they grow up happy and healthy. I just keep reminding myself that even though I can't help all of Murphy's littermates, I'm able to help Murphy and make a difference for him and all the other puppies currently in foster care through Rescue Rovers.
We currently have 12 rescue puppies, including Murphy that need new homes. But, if you absolutely must get a puppy from a breeder, please do your homework! Get references, call around make sure this person knows what they are doing and isn't just out there trying to make a buck. Make sure the breeder is willing to let you come to their home where the puppies are raised indoors and where they have an enriching play area. They should also be willing to let you spend time with the dam and sire both of whom should be very friendly and happy to see you, if not, do not adopt a puppy from that breeder.
If you or anyone you know is looking for a puppy, Murphy and his foster brothers and sisters will soon be ready for their new homes! Many other dogs and puppies are ready now. Get in contact with Rescue Rovers for more info!