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drdoombot's avatar

What advice can you give me about adopting a 5 year-old Papillon dog?

Asked by drdoombot (8095 points ) September 14th, 2009

My brother learned that a family is moving away and can’t take their 5 year-old Papillon female with them. I’ve been wanting a dog for several years, mostly for my mother’s health (but for myself also).

What do I need to know? I had a 16 week-old Miki boy once, but I only had him for a week.

As far as I know, the Papillon is friendly and house-trained. Is there something I need to do to make the transition into our family easier? We have a large extended family that we see often (the dog should be here on Friday, when about 25 members of our family are getting together). Will this freak the dog out?

I think my mother will want to change the dog’s name (her name is Cappuccino). Is it bad to change a 5 year-old dog’s name?

Another concern is that it’s a female dog? Is it difficult to clean up after a female dog? What is it like dealing with her period?

How do I learn what the dog has been trained for already? Besides talking to her old family (they are leaving tomorrow or the day after, I think, leaving little time to talk to them about it).

Do I need to get adoption papers or health records?

Any and all advice about getting a female dog from another family would be appreciated.

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18 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I would suggest delaying the adoption until your house is empty, so that you and the dog have a chance to bond. If the dog is not spayed, please arrange that immediately. It is the humane thing to do, unless you are a breeder. Then you need not worry about her oestrus.

Try to find out what veterinarian they used, and get the dog’s complete health records if possible.

I hope you will let your new dog sleep in your room, and will let her adjust at her own pace. I wouldn’t change a 5-year-old dog’s name, but there are those who disagree with me.

If you let her out, please use Frontline Plus and a heartworm medication once a month.

I’m sure there’s more, but I will just say that I hope your new dog will bring you years of love and pleasure.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I agree with what @pdworkin said.

When you get a dog from another family, you should get the name of their vet, and continue with that vet, if possible, until you get comfortable with the dog.

Expect the dog to be a little mopey, and perhaps a little cranky at first. Imagine what it would be like if strangers came and got you, and your family moved away without you. She will need to get used to the house, your routine, smells, etc. so give her some space and time to adjust. If she has a schedule at home, try to stick with it at least at first. Keep things as calm as possible. It may take several weeks before she feels at home.

As tempting as it may be to change the name, give her a chance to get used to your family before you do that. (Sometimes pets have nicknames that they answer to, and she may have one too.)

As @pdworkin said, get her spayed. There are enough dogs out there that need homes, and despite what it sounds like when you hear how much dogs cost, the cost of having a litter of puppies, in terms of vet bills is as much as what people pay for the dog themselves.

Buttonstc's avatar

Everything that’s already been said is excellent advice and I would second it.

If the circumstances are such that the adoption cannot be delayed until the house is empty of extraneous people then just put her in your bedroom and let her relax so she has only one room to get used to at first. Let that be her primary comfortable space during the initial adjustment period.

This will also keep any possible bathroom accidents contained if there are any. To minimize the chance of that happening, take her for walks every few hours until you get an idea of her normal elimination schedule.

Find out what types of dog treats she likes and give her one immediately after she does her duty. Also don’t be surprised at any possible slip ups with this and don’t be too punative with her. This is an enormous life change for her.

It may take a few months for her to adjust. Just remember that she is grieving the loss of her family the way we mourn the loss of a loved one.

Just give her lots of love praise snuggles and petting and you will have a loyal friend for years to come.

rooeytoo's avatar

I can’t add much to what has already been said. I know Papillions are great little dogs, gutsy and though petite, not particularly fragile. I don’t know enough about the breed as it is today to know if there are specific health probs, I would look for an online pap group in yahoo and ask questions there.

The amount of training she has had will become obvious. Just do not let her off lead in an unfenced area. If she doesn’t sit when you tell her, it is not a crisis but if she takes off down the street and doesn’t come back when you call, that could be a crisis.

Get vet name and records if possible, what meds she may be on. She should be a great companion for your mom, I wouldn’t want to live without my dogs, and I really think a pap might be a better choice than the other designer breed you mentioned!

drdoombot's avatar

A few things:

1. We can’t delay the adoption; the family is leaving the country in a day or two. The dog will be staying at my brother’s place until Friday, but he works full-time and attends school in the evening. Not a great situation for a grieving dog in an unfamiliar place.

2. I don’t know if we can keep the same vet. The vet is in south Brooklyn and we live in central Queens. And we don’t have a car. It’s at least a two hour trip by subway.

So, it looks like I can’t delay the dog’s arrival past Friday, but I might be able to get her earlier, perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday night. Will one or two days of relative quiet make more of a difference in her acclimation?

Also, I’m not sure about locking her up in my bedroom. I have lots of computer stuff: wires and junk that I’m afraid might get… chewed up? Peed on? Plus, my house is kinda “open,” meaning that when I have guests over, they pretty much go as they please into all of the rooms. Some of those guests will be little kids and you all know how kids get when they see a dog (hint: they go nuts).

Gah. I miss my privacy.

Anyways, any ideas on what I should do considering my above concerns?

EDIT: Oh yeah, what do dogs sleep on? My other dog used to hide in the arch that formed between the armrests of two couches. Kinda like a little sofa cave.

dpworkin's avatar

Maybe you should reconsider having a pet. Your household doesn’t seem to be set up for it, and you seem to be unwilling to take the normative steps to make sure your new dog has a good experience. In my opinion the dog would be better off with a family that could accommodate its needs.

I hope I don’t sound harsh, but your last post in this thread was most disheartening.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think getting her earlier and having some quiet time would be better than her being overwhelmed with unfamiliar strangers.

Then you can better gauge how she will handle the rest. Isn’t there any room at all where you can put her with a sign on the door keeping folks out? That way you could bring in a child or two at a time to supervise the interaction? Better safe than sorry.

Can you find out from her owners what she is used to regarding sleeping. Could they leave either an old shirt of theirs or a blanket with their smells on it to be a comfort for her in the transition.

They have all kinds of pet beds in stores or you could just cut down a grocery box and put in some soft blankets or pillow in temporarily?

Buttonstc's avatar

I just read pdworkins post.

Whatever you do decide, don’t put her in a shelter. Statistics for adult dogs are not good at all. If you do decide to give her up, there are breed-specific rescue groups. Just Google Papillon rescue with your zip code.

However, that being said, I think this can be workable for you if you are willing to put in the effort to make sure that her needs are met. Even now with this question you are beginning the process.

But there are just some changes you must be prepared for. This is a living being with emotional needs as well as physical.

Just because your family is used to having access to every room doesn’t mean it can’t change for the sake of the dogs adjustment. I assume they would understand.

Children should never be allowed unsupervised access to any animal and especially one who is in this type of transition.

dpworkin's avatar

Yes, I’m sorry if my answer had an air of finality about it. It holds if you are unwilling to alter things to accommodate the dog, but if you can begin to see yourself making changes to adapt to her needs, all power to you.

drdoombot's avatar

@pdworkin I don’t know what I said in my post that was so disheartening. In the end, the dog is for my mother, not me. I have stuff in my room that might not be safe around a dog. But there are two other bedrooms (albeit smaller ones). There’s not much more to say about that.

As for the “open house,” it’s something I’ve had fights with my mother about for years, but the bottom line is that it is her house and she decides how often to have guests over. I know my place will be different, but as long as I live with her, I have to do things her way. I can’t uninvite the guests coming over on Friday because this adoption opportunity came up (a holiday is a holiday).

@Buttonstc A shelter is not even in consideration. The family/guests situation caused many problems the last time I had a dog. I made it a point to tell all of my relatives that we would need time to let the puppy adjust to us, and the night we got him, everyone came over. The dog was frantic, I tried explaining it to them while they were hanging out, and they just didn’t get it. For the next week, the relatives with kids came over every. single. day. The only time the poor puppy barked was when the kids were annoying him (they didn’t know any better). Writing about it now reminds me of the promise I made to myself then: that I would get another pet when I was living on my own and had some more privacy. But I should reiterate: this dog is for my mother.

dpworkin's avatar

What seemed disheartening to me was a certain feeling of inflexibility. I hope I read that wrong. If your mother can’t be flexible, maybe it is she who should reconsider.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, all I can say is that you have your hands full trying to educate both your Mother and the rest of your family.

As I said before, this a living being with emotional needs as well as physical. I don’t understand why that would be such a difficult concept for the other adults in your family to grasp.

Someone needs to be looking out for the best interests is this poor dog. It looks as if you’ve nominated yourself and that’s what people are responding to.

drdoombot's avatar

Most of my family is from the Old Country (the former Soviet Union), where they had stray cats and dogs walking the streets. To them, a dog is not necessarily something that deserves respect. I’m only guessing here, but it seems to me that their attitude is: “It’s just a dog. It’ll get over it.” Or “What’s the big deal? Dogs love people.”

I think they don’t understand that dogs are emotional beings. They are a stubborn, backwards bunch.

dpworkin's avatar

@drdoombot Do you detect a worried tone in @Buttonstc ‘s post? I’m sure you did in mine. I really think you and your family have to have a talk about this, and have to bend to adapt to the dog’s needs, or you really should not take this on. It is at least a 10-year commitment to take care of the dog’s physical and emotional needs even if you are too tired, harassed, overwhelmed or overcome with visiting children to manage it with ease.

It will not be a kindness to the dog, nor will your mom have a happy, deep and fulfilling relationship with her if she can’t make some fundamental changes and stick to them, even if it means postponing a party. What would you do if a baby human were suddenly born? Invite the crowd?

I just saw your last post about your family’s attitude. I hope you can talk them out of this. Otherwise you are lending yourself to a form of cruelty.

rooeytoo's avatar

Here is how I would handle it. I would buy a small crate. I would get the dog as soon as possible. At 5, let’s hope it is housebroken and over the chewing stage, the crate is to protect the dog. And give it a place of its own. Let it sleep in there.

When the company comes, let the dog meet everyone, then tell kids it is time for the dog to have a rest and put it in the crate in your room and tell the kids to let the dog alone, it wants to have a nap. You can sneak in and visit every now and again.

I really don’t think this is a huge problem. Dogs are usually very adaptable. I have found MOST dogs if they are not with the one they love, they love the one they are with. Now there are exceptions, neurotic dogs who are simply nut cases.

I would give it a try. If the owners were not leaving I would say take the dog for a 2 week trial and see how it works. You can still do that, if it doesn’t work out, be in touch with a papillion rescue.

Does your mom want a dog? Did she like the other dog you had? That is probably the most important question and if the answer is yes, then I would have a go.

drdoombot's avatar

@pdworkin I think I have a pretty good understanding of the commitment it takes to have a pet. I don’t think I can convince others of this, especially the ones that don’t actually live in my house.

A baby was recently born to a cousin of mine, and she is currently dealing with a large influx of relatives. Such is life in traditional, extended families (in contrast to the typical nuclear family prevalent in the US). My mother is very close to her aunts and cousins, and has them over a lot. I’ve not-so-affectionately nicknamed our home the “Clubhouse” because it’s the place everyone stops by when they’re in the neighborhood. I don’t think this is necessarily an unlivable environment for a dog; just for a dog that is going through a difficult emotional adjustment.

It’s not just a party. It’s a religious holiday, which is always a family affair.

Buttonstc's avatar

The scenario I am most concerned about immediately is this:

Small dogs can get overwhelmed pretty easily because of their size and when surrounded by a group of shrill voiced children and feeling frightened they may snap or bite as a defensive reaction.

Of course then it’s perceived as the dogs fault when a bit of forethought could have prevented an unfortunate situation. And it’s the dog which pays the price.

I am not saying this is inevitable and I fervently hope nothing like this does happen, but it certainly wouldn’t be that unlikely. What I do know for certain is that the dog will be as unhappy as the poor puppy which you described.

wildpotato's avatar

Good for you and your family, doombot! What you’re doing for this dog is awesome. I am familiar with the attitude you describe towards animals (some of my friends are farmers), and I think it’s something that just has to be worked around. pdworkin, don’t you think you’re passing judgment on these folks a bit quickly? The fact that they’re accepting the dog into their home – a pretty large accommodation all on its own – indicates that despite their own feelings that “its just a dog,” they are showing her consideration. And think about it from their perspective – this is how they were raised thinking about animals. You and I happen to have been raised differently – I grew up in a non-Slavic culture, and with pets. People who didn’t grow up with animals, or those who grew up with animals as equipment (for example, my farmer friends) don’t usually think about animals overmuch at all.

I think rooey’s suggestion is perfect – get a dog crate. If you don’t have one, people often give them away on the nyc craigslist free section. I’d give you my extra, but it’s for a large dog. As far as the sleeping situation, you can buy a small dog bed at many pet stores or at Target. If possible, ask the family you’re getting her from if they can give you her current bedding – that’ll make her feel a lot more comfy at your place.

Dealing with her period will be not so fun. You will need doggy diapers. Otherwise, she should be pretty clean in her habits. But I concur entirely with other posters: please try to get her spayed. I work with a rescue society and can hook you up when the free spay/neuter clinics some up. There should be one in the next few months. If not, the AAC sends vans out to the outlying boroughs all the time; you can get the spay done for free or very cheaply at one of those. The only thing is, you have to get there early in the morning to stand in line.

Try thinking of a name change to something similar, perhaps? I know there are many Slavic nicknames that end in an “aya” or “nya,”, and such a name might sound a bit like “Cappa” (just guessing on what her own nickname might be), especially if you began the name with a “K” sound.

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