Vets & Vaccinations - Puppies' First Big Day Out

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Vets & Vaccinations - Puppies' First Big Day Out

6 weeks and one day since the puppies first encountered planet earth and it was time for them to see more of it. A lot more of it. No longer would their experience of the world be confined to a tile floor, 4 walls and any humans that materialised in and out of it from time to time. Outside was beckoning, a car ride was on the horizon and all catalysed by their first trip to meet a vet and receive their first puppy vaccination. Here's how it went......

To start off with we were dubious, sceptical even, about whether we would take them for their vaccination this week at all. 6 weeks just seemed so young, especially as my vague recollection from childhood was that puppies didn't get their vaccinations until they went to live with new owners....and that couldn't happen until at least 8 weeks old (legal minimum)? So, of course, I turned to the internet for clarification and after many hours of research all I had done was remind myself that when it comes to puppies, definitive 'answers' to what, how and when type questions are elusive. Vaccinations are no exception.

After browsing dozens of vet and other websites what I had seen was dozens of different vaccination schedules for puppies, different numbers of times you should vaccinate, different choices of vaccine manufacturers, different virus combinations and, depending on which search result you choose to follow, a whole subset of sites that were entirely anti-vaccine saying the risks of the vaccine massively outweighed the benefits anyway! Phew. I was confused and a little stressed.

Like anyone would we want to do the best by the puppies yet there seemed to be the opposite of a consensus on what that even means.

Anyway, I didn't set out to write an essay on the pros and cons of vaccinations and their timings to add to the mass confusion.  All I will say is that in the end for a variety of technical reasons added to the fact we have no history on Leela's vaccinations so can't assume they have maternal resistance to certain infectious diseases, and that we are in a country with a relatively low percentage of vaccine uptake.....we decided to stick with local advice and get this first canine parvovirus vaccine at 6 weeks.

So....back to the day out.

The start of their first outdoor adventure began when we sealed them all in the puppy cage for the first time since they started using it as a bedroom and then, from their perspective anyway, the ground began to move. From our perspective getting on for 12kg of dog and a large puppy cage is quite a heavy and awkward load to manhandle up a flights of stairs, a ramp and across the street into the back of a van. Thank goodness we have a massive van anyway!

Then we started the engine.......and so far all of this raised pretty much no obvious reaction. The big wide world, a moving van, the growl of an engine. No huge direct response, just a mild passing interest from what we could see. Instead the puppies were far more excited, howling and yapping at their nearby mother. In hindsight we should have made sure they'd had a bigger meal before we left as they were clearly hungry.

A short, yet noisy, drive later we got parked up at the vets and after popping inside to ask Yolanda a few final questions to reassure us we hauled the crate into the Animalfysio practice. By now 5 of the puppies had nodded off, waking to join in the howling intermittently only when the remaining howler (Rose) stepped on their face. In the end I took Leela for a stroll while they settled down a bit (which mostly worked).


A few minutes later they were inside meeting their first vet while the "please feed me" howling continued. In fact, to underline that the noise was hunger and not situation related Yolanda the vet provided a few titbits of food which resulted in immediate silence. Leela, for her part, was just excited to be at the vets - a place she loves to go which has made our life much easier these past few weeks.

Then the business of the visit began. One at a time the puppies were taken out, given a health check, had their first encounter with a rectal thermometer (the new experiences were coming thick and fast) and then, finally, given their first vaccination. As we expected the gentle examination and eventual vaccination produced a wide range of responses in the 6 different puppies which are developing such different characters. On the one hand we got to listen to the "I've been shot" type response from Teddy while on the other we had Jess who barely seemed to notice. In Teddy's defence he did have to get 2 needles as the first syringe burst when the plunger went down.

For me, at the time it was quite a stressful experience and I have to say I was very relieved when the 6th puppy was done and put back in the crate to join their now sleeping siblings. It had taken a little under and hour in total and although Leela was still looking excitedly and optimistically at Yolanda for a treat, I was just ready for a sit down. Most importantly, however, all of the pups had been given an excellent bill of health(shiny coats, good teeth, inquisitive etc.) and Leela a well deserved pat on the back for doing such a good job. All that remained was another crate carrying walk back to the van, a much quieter drive back to puppy central and a final carry back across the street and into the house. By now our carrying technique was much better synchronised.

And that is how the puppies first outdoor expedition went. I think it's fair to say it was probably much more of a trial for us than them. So far we're yet to find anything these fearless little fluffballs are really scared of which is why we're doing our best to expose them to new experiences as often as possible.

Tomorrow, paragliding. (just kidding, we're actually taking them waterskiing :)  )

Finally I want to add here that we are incredibly grateful to Animalfisio here in San Jose, Nijar for their support. As well as being very friendly, helpful and reassuring it's really convenient to have such a fantastic practice that offer such a range of treatments (including homeopathic) here in the natural park. They've provided great care for Leela and the pups and for us humans a great deal of support, encouragement and reassurance ever since we found out Leela was pregnant, including a home visit when Rose was ill at just a few days old. Thank you.





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