By Janet McAfee

A Good Samaritan brought the little puppy to the Loving All Animals shelter after finding her running loose in the streets, but no one came to claim her.  Had Loving All Animals posted the photo of this adorable 3-month old Spanish mix, the calls would have poured in for Tootsie.  More people seek dogs and puppies during the holidays and during the pandemic.  But sometimes dogs orchestrate their own adoption, and circumstances magically fall into place as they find a forever home.

Animal lover Joyce Medford volunteers at the Loving All Animals shelter two days a week, providing on site care for their rescue dogs and transporting them to appointments.  When she heard a transporter was needed to take Tootsie to get vaccinated, she happily offered her services.  These days the little patients wait outside busy veterinary clinics in parking lots inside cars with their humans.  Their wait in the car dragged on, but resourceful Tootsie kept Joyce amused with her antics.  Tootsie was secretly pleased to get more one-on-one time with Joyce.

Joyce recalls, “As it got later at the vet clinic, the time passed for the shelter back in Coachella to close. I offered to keep Tootsie overnight at my house.  That evening, it was like a slumber party while we bonded, although then I kept her separate from my three cats and one dog.  During the long wait in the car and the sleep over, I fell in love with this little pup!”.  After experiencing an evening at Joyce’s lovely pet friendly home, Tootsie charmed her way into becoming a permanent resident.

This fall, Joyce adopted 5-year old Heiso from Loving All Animals after transporting the badly matted stray to a grooming appointment.  She hadn’t planned on a second dog, and wasn’t initially certain how the new siblings would get along given their five year age gap.  Joyce reports, “Luckily, none of my pets were put out by the new arrival.  Soon Heiso was over the moon with joy with his new sister pup.  They play endlessly, and then kiss and cuddle together.”

How did Joyce’s cats react to the newcomer?  She reports, “The cats’ first reaction was…what else?  There was curiosity.  I believe in that first contact, they sensed there was nothing to fear.  There was only a stinkin’ cute creature smaller than any of the 3 of them, full of lightness and joy.  Now there continues to be harmony, fun, and company.  Tootsie sniffs and licks inside their ears, chases and gets chased.”

Puppies are always a popular adoption choice, their cuteness and charm melting out hearts.  Families with children clamor for them, as do singles and couples of all ages.  In deciding whether to select a young puppy or an older rescue dog that also deserves a second chance.

Joyce, a retired registered nurse, advises, “If you are going to be the primary care taker for a puppy, best to be a stay-at-home parent or spouse, or retired with the extra time puppies require. Puppies pee and poop frequently.  I have to take Tootsie outside for potty breaks every 3 or 4 hours, choosing not to use puppy pads, and I monitor her safety while she’s in the backyard.  She was not potty trained, but Loving All Animals offered advice.  Since I have other pets, I also have to coordinate feeding schedules, and maintain four separate eating areas!”

Puppies are rambunctious and require a lot of human attention, playtime, and exercise.  If you’re exhausted at the end of a busy work day and looking for a couch potato to join you on the couch, a middle age or sweet senior dog would be a better choice.

Puppies need to be socialized to many of the things in the world, new people including male and female, young and old, people wearing hats, and now people wearing masks!  They need to go on car rides from a young age so that they become comfortable with this.  Puppy training classes give them a good start, and much of this information can be found online.

Before you adopt a puppy this holiday season, consider how this new active addition will affect all family members.  Very young children may unintentionally rough house and injure a small puppy.  Puppies go through teething and may break human skin if they decide to chew on your hand.  They can chew up household items, so you must keep a “puppy proof” home.  A large size exuberant puppy can knock off tiny children and frail seniors

Finally, consider the other pets in your household and how they will adapt to a lively puppy.  Older cats who have no prior dog experience will most likely be a bad match, and injury or worse could result from lack of forethought.  A senior dog with medical problems may be annoyed by a energetic puppy.  However, sometimes a younger dog puts a spring in the step of an older one, as the two engage in joyful play.  Whenever possible, introduce your dog to the newcomer in neutral territory before you adopt to ensure compatibility.

PLEASE REFRAIN FROM ORDERING A PUPPY FROM A PUPPY MILL ONLINE OR FROM A BREEDER.  These groups are usually so profit driven that the parent dogs suffer severe neglect from lack of care.  Check to see their available pets.  The list below should help you find the perfect dog or cat this holiday season.  The Palm Springs Animal Shelter and the Coachella Valley Animal Campus are good sources of adoptable puppies.  You are welcome to email me if you need more assistance finding the perfect pet.

Happy holidays to you and your 4-legged family members!