He is lovely and he looks big for 4 weeks. Itís great of you to take him.
I think you might find that the murmur is a puppy murmur and will disappear when he gets older.
Awe, Alisha....he is so cute. You did a good thing. There is obviously lots or risks and health stuff that everyone already mentioned...but having the heart to stop and do what you did takes a lot of strength. He is lucky to have you and everyone who will be in his life from this day forward. :l*v:
He's very cute! I wouldn't worry about what you could have done about all the other puppies–you were put into a situation where you suddenly had a totally unexpected response. The puppies would have been pretty young for a rescue or pound to take on (6 weeks is an easier age than just 4), but a rescue or pound will definitely be able to home young puppies and it is useful to keep in mind that it's probably a safer situation than living on the street, if anyone ever comes across a similar situation. Most likely these puppies will end up in a shelter somewhere in the next couple of weeks anyway :). At the same time, nobody can possibly save all the dogs that need to be saved, and I think people need to take decisions based on what they can manage, not on what would be ideal. I think you made the right decision to not go back and try to get them all given your own situation. You have him set up with a whole range of options and he has landed on his feet! :)
As your vet says, he is a pretty big puppy for 4 weeks. I would guess he is going to be at least a good solid medium-size dog and perhaps larger. The thing is, you really cannot rely at all on what someone said about parentage–it would be really hard for the woman to have known who the father was given that a dog in heat, especially one belonging to someone who is homeless, could have encountered any number of intact males. For that matter, there can be a number of fathers in the same litter with different puppies having different fathers. I would guess this might be a puppy from a slightly larger parentage. She may also really have no idea about the parentage of her own dog.
Coming back to safety issues for this pup, though, really a puppy could not go to a socialization class at only 6 weeks–no puppy should be getting exposed to other dogs until it has finished the full vax cycle which will not be until somewhere between 11 and 14 weeks. Some breeders and some people feel comfortable fudging the vax issue because of the advantage of socialization, but even then you are talking about puppies that are well into their puppy vaccinations–6 weeks is before that process should start & would just be alarmingly early to be exposing a puppy to other strange dogs. Vets should not really start vaccinating as early as 6 weeks any longer either because it is believed this could put puppies that young at risk (or is just a total waste, and may mean that the puppy at the end of the series does not actually have enough active antibodies and remains at risk–there is plenty of research to support that this is just too early to vaccinate).
This is Jean Dodds current vaccination protocol which is the basic format for what most vet schools now recommend and the US veterinary organizations (though, sadly, far too many individual vets ignore it and still start vaccination series too early, and insist on annual boosters). You will see that she recommends that the very 1st puppy vacs should not be given until 9 to 10 weeks. That means you have several weeks in which you are going to need to keep this guy fairly well protected: http://www.doglogic.com/vaccination.htm
Probably the best thing this puppy has going for him is that he was still with his mother and his litter until the point at which you took him which means he could have the antibodies from his mother's milk still and would have been socialized with a large gang of pups.
I would still call a rescue or somebody more familiar with raising puppies for advice, as trainers and vets often really have very little idea about very young puppies at all. I also really don't understand how a vet could be suggesting that a puppy this young has a grade 1/2 murmur–meaning a permanent murmur. The vet should have explained the whole issue of puppy murmurs and that they are generally harmless, or should have explained the more serious issues if the vet believes this is not a puppy murmur but something of greater concern–in which case, they should've been talking to you about seeing a cardiologist?
I cannot emphasize enough that parvo and distemper remain very serious risks. The highest number of deaths any rescue or pound will see will be in puppies and they really can go from very healthy one day to seriously ill/dead the next. Trying to save a puppy with parvo/distemper is extremely costly because they have to go into the equivalent of intensive care and it would not be unusual for it to cost well in access of $1000-2000 with a low survival rate so it is really really important to be meticulous in terms of hygiene. I would personally be a lot less concerned about what the puppy might pass along to your own dogs than the other way around because adult dogs already have a lot of resistance to various things anyway. Kennel cough is usually the worst thing that strange dogs might bring in. But it is best practice to not expose them all together.
Karlin, can you explain why you wouldn't worry much about what a stray dog might bring into your home and expose your dogs to? I was always concerned about that even though my dogs had their vaccs (Dr. Dodd's protocol). Maybe I shouldn't have worried so much about that??
Just from personal experience from doing rescue for so long, really, but there are a few caveats and it is definitely not a good idea just to let a strange dog mix in the home with the resident dogs without having had the strange dog at least get a basic vet check 1st and if it is old enough, vaccinations (as well as flea treatment and a wormer). We have never quarantined dogs that we've taken in and they have almost always gone to fosterhomes where they are in with other dogs. By the time we are adults our immune systems are just far more resilient and mature; same for adult dogs. On the other hand, puppies have very weak immune systems and are really at risk especially in the 1st 2 to 3 months of their lives.
I don't disagree at all though with being cautious about exposing resident dogs, especially if there are younger or ill dogs in the house. In practice, though, outside dogs generally only bring in something like kennel cough. But if you have a dog that already has a health issue and weaker immune system, or if you have say, 5 dogs, having them get kennel cough can be at best an expensive issue if it is a stronger strain and makes them quite ill, or could actually put a younger or an ill dog at risk of pneumonia. I'd also be cautious with a dog on prednisone, because it is an immune suppressant. So there is always a balancing act.
All of us in rescue regularly foster out dogs, however, and I've never had anything reported back except kennel cough or may be a case of the runs. For large rescues that kennel large numbers of dogs, they need to be far more strict and they will be very careful about introducing stray dogs without having them vaccinated and then putting dogs in quarantine for the vaccination to begin to take effect. Parvovirus is extremely difficult to get rid of in a kennel and can wipe out many weaker or unvaccinated dogs. Getting rid of it tends to involve scrubbing down the entire kennels with very strong chemicals and then quarantining all the dogs and putting the kennel on quarantines for several months–yes, months–it is just a nightmare for a large rescue or pound to deal with. Even kennel cough in such a situation can be a serious problem. And of course you do need to consider mange, which can also be a nightmar and many stray dogs–especially puppies, I am afraid–will be carrying a worm load which can be passed to every other dog in the house and in some cases, the humans (it is almost impossible for young puppies not be carrying worms regardless of whether they are bloated with them–they generally all have them which is why warming is a routine and repeated action with young puppies) and they will also tend to have fleas and potentially mites.
That's why best practice is to take any new dog immediately to the vet before it ever even sets foot in a house around other dogs. If this is not possible, it really is best to isolate the incoming dog in an area where there is absolutely no contact with the dogs in the home until a vet can give the incoming dog a once over and check for basic problems. If the dog is a young puppy and still needs vaccinations, that is a complication as well.
Basically, people need to assess their own individual situation. Puppy deaths are a regular feature of rescue and pound work (almost always because they are exposed to something either already in the house/kennel or that the other dogs around them have carried in), whereas illness amongst dogs already in the house are not.
Second to worrying about his health, I still want to try to socialize this puppy as best as I can. I really hesitate contacting shelters to see if there are similar aged litters for him to mingle with...doesn't that seem risky??!
I have thought about looking around to foster another puppy of similar age and letting the two grow up a bit together at my place before homing the foster. It sounds cleaner and safer to me than letting him go hang out at an actual shelter...
We are still not sure if we are going to keep this rescue puppy either, but gosh something about hand raising him is pretty bonding.
Any other ideas of things I can do to socialize him to dogs? I worry his interactions with Coco won't be enough, she is so submissive lol!