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Letter to the Editor About Littermates

My Wednesday started with a nasty email…

This Seredipitous Saturday was originally going to be about the drama that led me to delete my Facebook Group, Raw Dog Food Chat.  I'm typing this up on Wednesday.  When I checked my email this morning, the first message I saw was from a former member who didn't realize I was disbanding the group…

“You've let your defensive ego get in the way I was only ever a helpful and positive contribution to your group polite and well mannered. How embarrassing for you, and immature. My statement was a thought for considering the welfare of the animals in the hands of ignorant owners. You are too pathetic to see past your judgement for the sake of the welfare of the animal then what is all of your effort for in sharing this raw food group. What a shame.”

He followed up the email with an apology if he came across too strongly and told me that I should be used to being called names like this and, to be honest, maybe I should.  I'm a blogger and I put myself out there daily, so I'm going to get some cruel backlash.

Should  we be used to nastiness just because we're online?

I have dealt with internet trolls in the past, but they've since moved on and I haven't had to deal with nasty people except in my raw food group, which is why I decided to delete the group.  I sent the following reply to the emailer…

“I disagree. I don't think anyone should get used to being called pathetic, ignorant, embarrassing, or judgmental. I don't want to ever be the type of person that is so detached that i don't feel hurt when I am called names like pathetic, embarrassing, defensive and immature. I think having feelings is what makes us good dog lovers. I know you were angry but please remember that there are real people with real feelings on the other side of words like that and I'm only human and I was doing the best that I could.”

Curious about past drama?

As the day wore on, I became happier. I was free from that drama.  And when I got home, I received a Tweet from Chelsea Price asking if I knew that I was in Bark Magazine.  A couple of months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor in response to an article about adopting littermates.  This is the perfect end to a day that didn't start out that well.  Pretty cool!

Quote in The Bark Magazine

My letter to the Editor of Bark Magazine about Adopting Littermates

Good evening…

My name is Kimberly and my boyfriend and I are raising 2 sets of littermates.  Although adopting 2 puppies at once is not easy and it truly tests your patience and ability to exist on an astonishing lack of sleep, I don't believe that it's ill advised.

Our first set of littermates will be 5 years old in the spring; we brought them home when they were 8 weeks old.  Our second set of littermates just celebrated their first birthday.  People often stumble across my blog, Keep the Tail Wagging, when they're researching the pros and cons of adopting 2 puppies at once.  Without fail, each person who sends me an email has already made the decision to adopt 2 puppies, that was the case with us too.

Instead of scaring them away with stories of Littermate Syndrome, I share how we were able to avoid the downsides that people associate with adopting 2 puppies at once; but our experience doesn't guarantee success for others.

1.  Hire a dog trainer.  The sooner the better.  We worked with a private trainer and it was fun .  We learned a lot about interacting with our puppies, how dogs communicate, and our trainer was able to point out similarities and differences in the personalities of our puppies that helped us train them better.

2.  Don't separate your dogs.  You're taking 2 puppies away from their family, from their siblings, and placing them into a new environment and they're going to be afraid.  What's wrong with allowing them the comfort of their littermate?   Both sets of our littermates shared one kennel when they slept until they wanted their own space – it didn't take long, their confidence started growing when they reached 3 months.  We did take them on separate walks and had individual play sessions – we still do this today.  It was important for our dogs to bond to each other and to us – I don't believe that separating them most of the day is going to accomplish this goal.  If you're bringing home 2 puppies, allow them to enjoy each other.

3.  Be prepared to work hard.  I didn't get a full night's sleep for a couple months.  When one was chewing on a chair leg, the other was peeing in a corner.  And they're so darn cute that it's tempting to allow them to get away with naughty behavior, but those cute puppies who are barking like crazy will become big dogs who are barking like crazy.  So be sure to incorporate training, consistency, and lots of exercise in your day – every day.

Someone told me that we had success with littermates twice, because we're lucky.  That might be true.  All of our dogs are Blue Heeler mix, so maybe that's why we've had such great success.  Or it could simply be that we worked with a dog trainer soon after bringing our puppies home.  Whatever the reason, I don't regret one moment with our littermates and we will continue to bring home 2 puppies at once, because it's been a blast.  But just in case, we'll stick with the herding breeds.

Thanks for reading.

Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging

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