Learn All The Facts Before Buying A Puppy

FOCUS ON PETS

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'Tis Christmas time and I always welcome a fitting subject around which to wrap a holiday column. Rocky is a very special boxer puppy who seems to fit the bill. I first met Michelle Dyer and Rocky at the feed store and again at Dog Day in the Park. Rocky had just had extensive surgery and his whole tummy was one long row of stitches. Michelle said she would like to share their story if it might help another family.

The Dyer family has a history of loving boxers, but they have had their share of heartbreak. Their previous boxer, Biscuit, died during a veterinary procedure. The family was devastated. Michelle and her husband, Allen, would have waited a while longer before getting another dog, but their son pleaded.

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Who could resist this adorable face? Michelle shows the long row of stitches along Rocky's stomach from the surgery to correct a birth defect. He is now a healthy, full of beans, 5-month-old puppy.

Michelle searched the ads in the local and Phoenix papers for boxer puppies. One litter turned out to be unsuitable. A subsequent ad promised a possible AKC show prospect. The Phoenix man said he bought this puppy and a female a short time before, but conditions changed and he could not keep them. The female was already gone.

The Dyers immediately fell in love with this adorable six-week-old little boy. Michelle said, "This boxer in the face was the cutest I'd ever seen. He touched a place in my heart, my son and husband's, too. The man showed us the receipt for the puppy and also a vet bill showing a vet check and initial shots."

They had no reason to suspect any problems until they got the little guy home and fed him his dinner. Suddenly, a pouch appeared behind his left rib cage. Other than the obvious bulge, the puppy seemed playful and all systems seemed to be working. A visit to their veterinarian confirmed that all was not normal. She suspected a hernia. The purchase papers, which they discovered were not signed, said they had 24 hours to have the puppy checked by a vet. By then, naturally, they loved this puppy and were not about to send him back to the seller who had not been honest with them. There was no way this man could have been unaware of the problem with this puppy.

The Dyers were referred to a vet specialist in Phoenix for a consultation. More X-rays demanded exploratory surgery to determine the cause of the problem. The surgery revealed that this pup had been born without a whole band of muscle tissue and to correct it, abdominal reconstruction would be required. Without the surgery, intestinal strangulation was possible.

The surgery was nearly $2,000 plus the local vet fees. Fortunately, the Dyers were willing and able to pay for this expensive and extensive surgery for Rocky. They realize that in another situation, he might have been euthanized.

Rocky recovered from the surgery and although the repair is not perfect, he is doing very well. The son is happy to have a dog in the house and Michelle has a walking companion. Rocky, now almost five months old, is one very fortunate little guy.

There are lots of unscrupulous breeders out there who are passing down inherited defects in their dogs. Puppy mills are supplying pet stores with inferior dogs at high prices. The moral of this Christmas story is -- if you are looking for a dog, take the time to make some good decisions. Don't choose a puppy because he is cute. Don't go to a pet store and take one because he is adorable or he looks sad. Spend some time deciding the right breed for your household. If you want a purebred dog and are willing to pay the price, do your homework. Lots of help is available through the American Kennel Club, the Humane Society of the United States and individual breed groups over the Internet. Study different breeders and get recommendations from other dog people. But if you just want to add a four-legged best friend to your family, visit the Payson Humane Society.

Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, who is widely known because of his TV appearances and now his best selling book, gives an excellent piece of advice. Choose a dog that has an energy level a little lower than your own. Think about it. If you are an outdoor person who enjoys hiking, biking and jogging, get a dog with the energy to keep up. If you are a couch potato and a TV watcher, get a dog that will enjoy curling up next to you on the sofa. It is not fair to expect a high-energy dog to sleep all day and night without ample exercise.

The Dyer family has a puppy they love. They were willing to pay the price for his surgery even though they knew that it might not save his life. Rocky will be home for Christmas with a loving and caring family.

Speaking of Christmas, it is that wonderful season. Love, laugh, be with family and friends and enjoy every minute. And remember the reason for the season. Listen to the beautiful Christmas carols. Hear the words. How did we ever make this into such a secular, materialistic holiday? Is Christ in our Christmas? Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday to all. Let it be a time of sharing, caring, loving and family.

Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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