Two Weeks Before
At six weeks, puppies are eating softened kibble, as their teeth have finally come in. We are working on sound desensitization and they spend their awake time playing, exploring, and interacting.
During this week two very exciting things happen
- Family visits! All of the families who will get a puppy from this litter come to meet all of the puppies in person for the first time. This is such a fun and exciting day. They get to meet Scarlet and I, see where the puppies are raised, and get to know and interact with each one.
- Vet Appointment! This is their first big trip away from home, and they get to meet lots of exciting people, and get some less than exciting shots. This is the time where we note any minor things, confirm each puppy is healthy, get their microchips placed, and see how they interact is a big, new environment with new people.
During this time we also make our “puppy profiles” and gather match forms from each family. For me, the match forms help me to know what each family is looking for in their dog to make sure that A. it’s realistic B. that they get the best puppy possible for them. We are also starting to put together a page all about each puppy – who they were when they were teeny tiny, who they are becoming, and who we think they will become in the future.
One Week Before
On Day 49, we perform parts of two temperament tests – the APET, and the Volhard. These tests are a series of observational exercises – ideally done by a third party in a location the puppy hasn’t been. The extent of each is really dependent upon the families and the litter. We use this information to either confirm our observations or revisit them and figure out what discrepancies we are seeing and why.
Our family match forms are then randomized, and puppies get a score in 3 different areas – and each family and puppy are matched based on which families score highest with each puppy. Some families have one match, and some have many. Once we match any puppies being placed for special purposes (like therapy, service, or emotional support) then we match families with only one puppy match, and if we get to a spot where everyone is even, we then go down the list top to bottom. I often get feedback that families feel they were matched with the puppy that was perfect for them!
During this time I’m also getting their paperwork together, putting together go home bags with lots of fun goodies, and answering any last minute questions.
Go Home Day
The night before/morning of, each puppy gets nice and clean, and families come for pick up! I get asked often if it’s hard – and honestly by this time puppies are ready for their next steps, more one on one attention, and they are ready to bond with their new families. It’s also super rewarding seeing the puppies go off on their new adventure, knowing that their families have been waiting so long. It’s such fullfilling work.
After Go Home
Once puppies go home, I try to touch base the next day, about a week later, at a month, six months, and around a year. No one is ever obligated to keep contact – but I always want families to know I’m available if needed – at 14 hours or 14 years! First day nerves are common (as is being sad that puppy cries at night!) and puppies may be less interested in food – and you wonder if it’s normal (it is!) Puppies also go to see their vet in the first few days – we like to make sure that the healthy puppy we sent home is still healthy and doing great – and their vet isn’t seeing something new. I love seeing all of the photos and the first week is a lot of messages making sure “this is normal” and I’m always able to reassure families.
I hope that gave you a little more insight into our process here at Sleeping Bear Kennels. The last two weeks get super busy – puppies are growing so much, and we want to make sure we are taking advantage of every enrichment opportunity.