The Puppy Diaries – The First Month
Welcome to our new monthly blog series all about Murdock the lurcher puppy, with candid insights and practical tips on welcoming a dog into your home.
Choosing a Puppy
I’ve been looking into getting a pup for quite a long time, since my dear old lurcher Beau passed away a couple of years ago. As a family, we haven’t rushed into things. Beau was a very special dog and we have been taking the time to find the right dog for us, to suit our lifestyle and temperament. A dog that could become an integral part of our family, like Beau was.
Choosing a puppy is an incredibly important decision for any family – although it is easy to fall in love with a tiny ball of fluff, you have to remember that they are going to get bigger, they need regular exercise and attention and they are likely to live for 12+ years. It is a big commitment and not something that should be done on a whim.
During lockdown puppy sales have increased dramatically and the price of pups has shot up, with a lot of unscrupulous dealers looking to cash in on the trend. Unfortunately despite new regulations, puppy farms still continue to operate and it is really important if you are choosing a puppy that you get it from a reputable breeder and that you have seen it with one or both of its parents. You are not ‘rescuing’ or ‘saving’ a puppy if you buy it from a puppy farm – you are just encouraging these exploitative breeders to do more of the same. If you don’t like what you see, don’t buy the dog - and if you have welfare concerns about the conditions that a pup has been bred in, call the RSCPCA.
The other important factor when choosing a pup is to make sure that you have done your research. Don’t choose a dog because of the way it looks. I admit I was flirting with the idea of getting a dachshund (sausage dog) just because I love the way they look but I know that their personality wouldn’t suit our family’s active lifestyle. They may look cute but they are bred for hunting badgers and they can be both stubborn and persistent when fixated on a goal.
After much consideration, we decided to stick with what we know and look for another lurcher like Beau - but we didn’t want to rush - and we waited for the right dog. That’s how we found Murdock.
Murdock was bred by local Instagrammer Phoebe. She wasn’t breeding for profit, she has a lovely lurcher called Pie and wanted to breed from her to continue her bloodline. What Phoebe didn’t know was that Pie would have 12 pups! Crossed with a pedigree whippet, they were born in an amazing range of colours from brindle to blue and all thrived under Phoebe’s care during lockdown. Because they came from Pie, she called them the ‘Slices’ and you can check out some of the puppy pics on Phoebe’s Instagram stories (Murdock is the pup with the green collar). If you’re going to buy a dog in lockdown then getting one that is insta-famous is a great move. We were able to see Murdock grow and play with his brothers and sisters right up until the day we came to collect him.
27th June – The Pickup
After weeks of excitement and anticipation for all of the family, we collected Murdock on a Saturday morning when he was 8 and a half weeks old. He was sick on the car journey, but once home he settled in pretty quickly. The cats haven’t accepted him yet but they are getting closer every day. We are lucky enough to have a big garden for him to play in and he enjoys running around with short bursts of energy followed by long naps.
2nd July – First Jabs
Murdock was a very brave boy at the vets. He was already microchipped when we got him and the vet gave him a quick examination and his first set of injections. We had to hand him over in the car park due to the Covid-19 restrictions. He wasn’t car sick this time, but he had been sick quite a few times before and this has grown less frequent as he has become used to travelling in the car.
23rd July – First Walk
A week after Murdock’s second set of jabs he was able to take his first walk. My friend Susie came over with her dog and her children and Murdock really seemed to like running in a pack with them all. Although I intend to use a collar and lead in the long term, I bought him a little harness and an extendable lead for now so that he has the freedom to run around without pulling on his neck or worrying about getting lost. He was a little nervous at first but soon settled down. He seems a bit nervous in general – I think this is his whippet side coming out – so it is important for me to make sure that he has as many positive experiences as he can during these first few weeks whilst he is forming his world view.
24th July – First dip in the pool
Gravitis kindly sent us one of their new dog paddling pools to try out and we set it up in the garden. I was really impressed with the construction and quality of the pool, which is designed especially for dogs and is not inflatable, so it can be put up or packed away in seconds. We put a little bit of warm water in to start with and got in with Murdock, encouraging him to splash around until he got used to the feeling of the water. As we head into August a dog pool like this is a great way to make sure your pet is staying cool at home. The kids really loved playing in it too!
Tonight Murdock will be having his first dog training session. Because of Covid-19 there were only four places on the course and they were all snapped up by Slice owners – including Phoebe - so it will be really great fun for Murdock to meet up and play with some of his brothers and sisters again. We will be socially distanced together, in a local field. I have already taught Murdock to sit and stay but it is really important to socialise puppies at this age and I also want some tips on how to avoid separation anxiety when we do eventually start leaving him on his own. This is an issue that has been described as a ‘ticking time bomb’ by animal charities as puppies bought in lockdown and other pets have been spending a lot of time with their owners over the past few months – so it is crucial to make sure that as things begin to get back to normal, our pets are able to cope with the changes to their routine.
I’ll be telling you all about how we get on at dog training in our next Puppy Diary. If you’ve bought a puppy recently, we’d love to hear about your experiences – tell us all about it in the comments section below.
Want to read more about Murdock and his progress? You can find all of our puppy diaries here.