A few weeks ago, I took a friend with me to look at a puppy. I know what you’re thinking. Another dog, and a PUPPY!? Is she crazy?? Well, yes of course I am. I thought that was pretty much a given by now. Besides, October is “Adopt a Shelter Pet Month” need I say more?
The puppy I was considering was an 8 week old male Chihuahua mix, supposedly with Australian Shepherd(?). Seems a little unlikely, but hey who knows. In the picture on the website it was hard to tell his size, but he was listed as small. FYI – with dogs generally small means the predicted adult weight will be under 25 lbs. For a dog listed as medium the predicted adult weight will be between 30 – 50, and large will be typically over 50 lbs.
I say generally, because when you’re dealing with mixed breed dogs it can kind of all be a crap shoot anyway, and the size categories do overlap somewhat. For example, when Rex and Nemo were puppies, each was listed as medium. As adults – Nemo weighs 35 lbs. and Rex weighs 55 lbs. Nemo was right on the money, Rex on the other hand, is on the bigger end of medium. Like I said, when you’re dealing with mixed breeds it’s usually a guess. Fortunately even if neither the mom or dad’s breed heritage is actually known, most vets and experienced dog people can “guesstimate” how big a puppy will get based on the weight of the puppy at around 8 weeks, paw size, and a few other factors. Once a puppy is a little bit older a pretty good general rule of thumb is to double the weight at 4 months to approximate their adult weight.
Nemo & Rex
So, back to the little guy. He was from a litter of 3 puppies. Everyone knows with mixed breed dogs it can be really hard to tell exactly what you’re getting, but I think it’s kind of fun to try guess based on their physical appearance and markings. He was mostly black with tan and white markings and had longish droopy ears that made me think perhaps he had some Beagle in him. I noticed that from the photos on the website that, other than size, he didn’t look anything like his two sisters who were mostly white and had smallish folded ears. I thought the girls looked more like Jack Russell terriers than Chihuahuas. In the end all that mattered was he would be on the small side and had a sweet face. I assumed maybe he had a different dad than his sisters.
Sorry for the interruption, but it’s time for a quick biology lesson – a female dog ovulates over a period of several days, releasing a few eggs at a time. If she mates with more than one male dog there can be puppies with different dads in the same litter. Weird right? It is not at all unusual for there to be more than one father in random mixed breed, unplanned litters. Again, sorry for the interruption, now back to our story.
We arrived at the shelter shortly after they opened and I handed over the application paperwork on the little guy. The shelter volunteer brought the puppy out to the visiting pen where we sitting on the floor and set him down. He was of course cute (I mean we’re talking about a puppy), but a little bigger than I had expected, considering he was supposed to be a Chihuahua mix. Hmmmm, maybe there was something to the “part Aussie” thing after all.
I should mention that when I’m evaluating a puppy in a shelter environment, I always watch to see how they react to all of the commotion going on around us. Shelters can be loud and chaotic, but most of the time puppies are pretty adaptable, and if they’ve been in the shelter for several days they typically adjust (I know this because I’ve worked in shelters). When I meet a puppy I understand if they are bit hesitant or overwhelmed at first, but I would find it a bit worrisome if they seemed completely shut down. That was far from a concern with his guy! He was happy, wiggly and outgoing. He pounced on the toys that the volunteer brought over and ran around the pen interested in everything going on around us.
This may surprise you, but it took about 30 seconds for me to decide that I was probably going to take a pass on him. Then I thought, to be fair I shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and decided to spend a few more minutes with him before I made up my mind.
He never stopped moving, and was a little too busy and overly distracted by everything going on around us. He didn’t really notice or acknowledge us. When I attempted to interact with him, he was more interested in watching the people playing with a puppy in the pen next to us. Eventually I got his attention and he gave me a big puppy smile and wagged his tail, but a split second later ran over to watch a volunteer who was mopping the floor in another pen. When I picked him up he wiggled and squirmed, and when I set him down, as soon as his feet touched the floor he was off and running again. NOPE. Waaaay too much energy for me. He was a bit overly confident for my liking too, which is great for a family with some kids to run around and play with, or someone who wants an agility dog, but not great for a house with several crotchety senior Chihuahuas who are going deaf and blind. I told the volunteer I was going to pass on the little dude, and walk around and look at some of the other dogs and puppies that had caught my eye on the website earlier in the week. More to come soon…