YAY! It's almost time for your precious pup to go home with you! He/she will have the 8-week shots before leaving with you. The signed purchase agreement and the remaining $1,700 check made to Family Legacy (the ministry in Zambia) are due a week prior to this homecoming date. I will send all the checks to Family Legacy at that time (thank you in advance for your support for these precious kiddos!). Also, if you would like for your puppy to stay here a while past the normal pickup date, just let me know the day that you would like to pick him/her up and I'll put it on my calendar! It's getting exciting! They are growing so fast and are so much fun!!!
Some of you may have a few questions about what to do to prepare for that homecoming day... so here are a few tips, the first two of which are the most important.
HEALTH CHECK: Remember that you will need to have your pup examined by your veterinarian within 5 days of bringing him/her home to insure that he/she is in good health; the one-year health guarantee is contingent upon this veterinarian exam. This is also the time to discuss the shots and boosters regime that your veterinarian recommends.
FOOD: It is really important that your puppy stay on the same food he/she was raised on... at least for the first couple of weeks. Then, if you want to transition to another food, be sure to do this very gradually, as an abrupt change can cause major stomach upset. (Add a little more of the new food each day, taking a week to make the complete transition.) The puppies have been raised on a high quality, grain-free food, Taste of the Wild, Pacific Stream puppy food. I will send home with you a large baggie full of this food to help you get started. It's always received high marks in its reviews. Chewy.com has one of the best prices I've found.
BEDDING: It's highly recommended that your precious puppy spend much of the next several weeks in a crate. It's great for house training (see our page on recommendations for this fun process!), but it also helps the little one feel secure in a nest-like environment, especially at night. It needs to be just large enough for the puppy to stretch out and stand up in, but not large enough for him/her to potty in one end and sleep in the other (puppies will keep their sleeping nest clean). Some people opt for buying a small plastic kennel to start off with, knowing that they will need to purchase a large one when their dog is full grown. Others go with a metal crate that has a divider panel which can be adjusted to enlarge the crate as the dog grows. If you choose the metal crate option, be sure to place a blanket around the crate to create a dark, nest-like feel to it. Then add a comfy washable cushion to make it feel like home. It's recommended that the kennel or crate be placed in a room far away from where you sleep. You will need to get up once during the night to take him/her outside to potty, but aside from that, you need your sleep!
PLAYPEN: There are lots of options out there, but I have loved the Iris playpens. I bought 2 sets of the 4-sided pens plus an additional 2 panels. I then created 2 5-sided pen areas, connected by one of the door panels. This way you can keep the puppy in one area when needed or open it up for him/her to have more space to play. Fortunately, the 49" EZwhelp Round Pee Pad fits well in this space (I'd recommend purchasing 4 of them, one for each side and then extras to use when others are being washed). Just be sure to place a tarp underneath the whole thing to keep your floors protected. Some people construct the panels into a long rectangular shape, but you will need to reinforce the middle with either some small pvc piping or an Iris door panel.
BONDING: Being held by you and being around other people is really important from weeks 6-12. This helps tremendously to prevent the pups from becoming nervous around others. That being said, puppies also need their sleep. Just like a human baby, count on your pup sleeping much more than playing. But that's okay... holding a sleeping puppy is a pretty great deal too!