Leave your puppy at home

So I have officially become one of those people who will give unsolicited advice to perfect strangers!

Unfortunately I have no children to torture and embarrass with such objectionable behavior, over 50 and past the point of giving a damn about how this makes me appear, and my most recent demonstration of this seemingly met with appreciation, there’s nothing to slow me down!

Assuredly soon enough someone will suggest that “it’s none of my business” (at best) or slap me silly (at worst) but it’s doubtful even that would dissuade me as I’m stubborn (and stupid sometimes) but when it involves animals I’m a bit tenacious.  Especially when it involves the health and welfare of young animals.  Hence this blog.

Let me set the stage a bit.  A 30 something woman with a toddler and a puppy in tow enter our local pet store just after opening on a Saturday morning. Mom is struggling a little to get said toddler to slow down as he’s rushing ahead into the store.  Simultaneously having the opposite problem with said puppy, who is scared stiff and refusing to take one step further.  Understandably and undoubtedly this is one of the puppy’s first walks as it’s probably no more than 10 weeks old.

Observing this from just a few feet away, I notice that Mom has placed a blanket in the bottom of her cart but as yet its purpose is unclear to me but I’m sure hopeful it’s for the puppy.  My impatience overcomes me and I say or ask…. sorta… “I hope that’s for the puppy?”

Candidly I may be giving myself more credit than I’m due with the question mark at the end of my statement as it may not have sounded like one.   However, Mom responded with a certain and polite “yes.”  She continued to share that her new puppy was so frightened that there was no way she could maneuver through the store with the puppy on leash.  And while obviously a little exasperated by this reality she had been prepared with a blanket to cover the bottom of the cart.  I liked her!

Relieved by this news, it didn’t last long as it hit me that while she was doing the right thing by putting the puppy in the cart rather than letting it walk around the store, she was doing so for the wrong reason.  Trying to be encouraging regardless, I agreed her puppy was too afraid to brave the store on foot  AND “That’s good as he’s really too young to be walking around here at all.  Unless he’s had 2 Parvo shots. ”

She looked stunned for a moment.  And then muttered that he had only had one such shot.

I can’t remember if she asked or if I just barged on in but I went on to explain that until puppies have had at least 2 if not preferably 3 vaccinations that begin at 6-8 weeks of age, they are highly susceptible.  Puppies should stay at home and be limited to even where they can venture there until 4 months or older!  The Parvovirus is extremely contagious and is virtually everywhere any animal or person might travel.  It can stay in the ground for years, and is spread by the tracking paws of other dogs and even our own shoes.  It doesn’t take much contact with the unseen Parvo “germs” by nose or by paw for a puppy to pick up the dreaded virus.  And then you’ve really got a problem.  And treatment which can be around the clock can be not only expensive but daunting.

I recall well a yellow labby looking puppy we received that I took home to foster the day it came in.  It was sweet and laid back.  Once home and having greeted my pack, she promptly curled up under a chair and went to sleep.  I should have suspected right away that she was too laid back for her own good when she didn’t move for an hour.  What I initially put off as exhausted by the stress of her day, would soon become a worry.  She was too good.  While not vomiting and no diarrhea, she also did not show much appetite and was lethargic.  Unwilling to wait for the diarrhea and its unmistakable Parvo appearance and odor, I ran a Parvo test on her at home.  Soon I’d see the blue dot that is just as dreaded as the words…Parvo positive!

Off to the emergency vet we went!  Parvo at any stage is an emergency in my book!  Even if they aren’t showing classical symptoms.  Catching it early doesn’t guarantee you success but I can promise you this, delaying for things to get worse can be a death sentence.

This puppy would live but I’ve sadly lost a few others.  Others that had I caught sooner may have survived.  Others who were just too young to fight it.   Others that deserved a better chance at life than they got.  Parvo is not a death sentence but it sure can be deadly.

And sadly the easiest way for a puppy to get Parvo is through being in the wrong place at the wrong time…of life.  Hence why I so strongly suggest leaving your puppy at home until they’ve had all their shots and boosters.

This means no stores, no walking the neighborhood, ABSOLUTELY no dog or public parks, and while at the vet’s office, keep your puppy in your arms!  I know I must sound like an overprotective mother but honestly I’ve seen enough to justify such an extreme attitude.

Judd - CopyI know people are excited about their new puppy (how can you not be…they are so damn cute)  and want to share them with the world and show them off but PLEASE there is no reason to take them anywhere until fully vaccinated.  Well except to the Vet and even there you should be cautious.  I mean we all know there is no better place to become exposed to illness than in the emergency room or doctor’s office.   The same is true in even the cleanest of vet offices and waiting rooms.

So please leave your puppy at home until they are fully vaccinated!

Or at least avoid the pet store early on Saturday morning with that new puppy as you’re likely to have some crazy woman pestering and preaching to you about the horrors of Parvo!  As you should know by now, I’m 52 and am fabulously unafraid of looking foolish!






Categories: Animal Care


4 replies

  1. As a foster mom, I too have seen too much Parvo. Good for you !! People must be educated to do the right thing by puppies and all animals. Love your blog !

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