Pandemic Puppies 

April 18th 2020

I feel like I say this every time, but really, where does the time go!?

I’ve been witness to a lot of breeders making hard decisions the last couple of months. A lot of them are choosing to put aside their litter plans for the foreeable future for numerous covid-19 related reasons. For some this means they won’t get litters on some of their girls ever because they’ve waited too long and this would have been their last chance. Others are choosing to go ahead with their litter plans knowing there may not be a vet to back them and just praying that everything goes okay. I want to stress hard here, these are not easy decisions and it’s not for anyone else to make those decisions for them.

I’ve had a rush of inquiries lately, and I feel it’s because people are home and feel that now is the absolute best time to raise a puppy. Well, it might be, but it also might not be. A few things to think about: 
- How will you socialize your puppy? 

- Are you prepared to train your puppy on your own?

- Will you be able to continue feeding your puppy a quality diet if your food sources dry up?

- Will you be able to access vet care if you need it?

- What happens when you go back to work? 

Life will eventually resume some kind of normal. No one knows what it’s it’s going to look like yet, but at some point we will see return to work and activities of daily living. So what happens then? Is the cute puppy that you bought going to still be loved and cherished as a member of your family, or will you not have time for him or her anymore? I have to tell you, this is one of my biggest fears as a breeder: that my puppies will end up dumped at a shelter and for whatever reason I won’t be able to get them out and into proper homes again. 

I worry that new owners won’t have access to good training supports and won’t be prepared to properly socialize their puppy. With classes cancelled, and trainers not able to work without breaking the law, new homes are having to think outside the box of how and where they are going to train their puppies. I recommended to one of my training client families recently to take their puppy - in the crate- in the car to the grocery parking lot when they and their partner went to do groceries. One person stay in the car and cuddle the puppy, and every time someone passes by the puppy gets a cookie. This is passive socialization, building positive experiences to something scary (strangers). This is one small option that people can start to explore with their new puppies, but like I said, it’s going to mean brainstorming and intentional work.

As an aside, something I was speaking about with a Cavalier breeder this morning was that I wonder if we will see a decrease in the amount of reactivity because dogs aren’t being forced to interact in inapropriate situations and manners (ie, dog parks). I’m very interested to see how that aspect will play out.

For now, pet food and supplies are considered essential, so we have access to our chosen foods. This may not last. I’ve been working hard to make space for an extra freezer to get a few extra months of food in, and I’ve also placed an order for a half dozen bags of quality kibble. By the end of May I’m hoping to have eight months of food - regular rations, not breeding - in house for my dogs. I normally keep a month or two ahead at most, so this is a bit of a change.  

Access to vet care is my other big concerns. I have been checking in with my vets weekly since this began. What new restrictions are in play? What resources do they have available? Do they have shortages of pain medication, anesthesia, general medical supplies such as sutures and antiseptics, PPE, etc? These are all factors that will play a big part in my decision to breed a litter or not. My vets have assured me that they will still be vaccinating puppies, but that’s not a written in stone guarentee that they will be able to be there should I need them. Just more to think about in the whole equation. 

There isn’t a wrong and a right here. All I ask is that prospective homes think about the whole picture and not just the cute fluffy puppy. If you’ve thought about it and think you still want a puppy, send an email to the breeder you’ve chosen. If they have an application, fill it out. Be ready for them to grill you; they’re being inundated with inquiries and they’re tired and stressed and they have hard decisions to make. Don’t make them harder.  

© Shari Joanisse 2023