I learned accidentally that I am part of a Facebook group for lost and found dogs in our area with Oliver’s former owner. Her profile photo was of a new puppy. While I will never send them this letter, I couldn’t help but write my thoughts.
Dear Oliver’s Former Family,
Remember me? The woman you handed the leash of your scared 11-month-old puppy to in the Petsmart parking lot almost 2 years ago? I saw that you recently acquired a new puppy. Congratulations! As the person still dealing with the after-effects of how you raised Oliver almost two years later, please take my advice.
-Fat puppies are not cute! Well, all puppies *are* cute, but laughing off obesity at such a young age is not acceptable. Your excuse for Oliver being 4.5- 5/5 on the body condition score chart when you handed him over? “We gave him a peanut butter kong whenever he barked.” There are after-effects to the
“chubbiness” that you caused- Oliver has already had surgery on his right patella, and will eventually need surgery on both of his hips. With your new addition please rely on exercise and training to tire out a wild puppy instead of food. Kongs and other treat toys can be fabulous tools- feed your new puppy his meals out of one! But please don’t use it as a baby sitter. Start training as soon as you get your puppy, and be serious this time. I know you said you took Oliver through Puppy Kindergarten but “don’t know how he passed,” please put some effort in this time. What you give to training you’ll get 10 fold in the future!
-Please socialize this puppy. I know Oliver was definitely at a disadvantage when you got him- puppy mill puppy turned shelter puppy adopted into your dog inexperienced home- but just taking him to your girl’s softball games and on your seemingly every weekend trips instead of boarding him at your vet every time would have done him a world of good.
Almost 2 years later we’re still trying to build his trust with strangers. Remember how freaked out he was when you handed him over to us in the parking lot? Yeah, we’re still working on that. It’s a long road. Early socialization is key to making a confident dog throughout their life. I know you didn’t get him until he was 5 months old so a lot of these issues were already there- you’re getting this new puppy earlier, according to your Facebook page, so please start socializing her (not sure, I’m just going to go with her) as soon as you get her. The AKC has some good tips! Acclimating Oliver to strangers will be a life long process for us.
-Please groom your puppy to breed standard. I can’t tell what breeds (I’m guessing mix) this new puppy is, but please pay attention to how the breeds are supposed to be groomed. Thanks to your vet sending over all of your records to me I know you had him shaved frequently. (That’s also how I know you boarded him almost every weekend!). Now Oliver is suffering from Alopecia. Double coated breeds such as Pomeranians aren’t supposed to be shaved, except for some circumstances (like Jack and Bebe’s constant medical testing). Oliver was shaved out of convenience. I totally understand the convenience part- when had had a coat it was huge, glorious and tangled easily. Now it is patchy, woolly and is just starting to re-grow from all of the damage that was caused. Frequent grooming is definitely the way to go- so keep that up! Just make sure you do maintenance grooming at home and partner with a groomer who understands what you are willing to do at home and shows you the proper techniques to keep this puppy tangle-free.
-The most important tip: if this puppy doesn’t work out, please reach out to rescue again. The best thing you ever did for Oliver was contacting Central Ohio Pom Rescue and not taking him back to a shelter environment that would adopt out a puppy with issues to an inexperienced family in the first place. Not every family is meant to have a dog- not every lifestyle can handle the time and effort they take- and I am sure COPR would help you again if this puppy doesn’t work out. I would happily meet you in that same Petsmart parking lot again.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reaching out to COPR. Oliver definitely keeps us on our toes! I am sorry he did not work out with your family, but am glad he works out with mine. He is a much loved addition to our household.
I wish you the best with this new puppy,