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Dog vs puppy: which is better for your family?

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Last week, Fern and her puppies (big Fred, fluffy funny Fiona, Franklin-the-explorer and sweet Felicia) left our Warrenville home for their next foster homes. I was sort of sad to pass them all along to new families, but we had to travel to Newfoundland, Canada, for a family wedding so it was time. Nevertheless, the pups had also just begun to develop real personalities, so I’m glad to have had them his long, too.

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Mama Fern was adopted within days of weaning her pups, and no doubt is now enjoying soaking up every moment of attention from the two young men who've given her a place in their home. The puppies are just coming up on 8 weeks old now—and the two boys have adoptions pending already. Chicagoland Dog Rescue has some photos and bios posted for all four. By the time we get home in early August, I expect they'll all have found families who want them. Puppies, after all—and these are as sweet as they come.

If I didn't already have two dogs, I would be tempted to keep one or two of this family myself, because they are very dear and affectionate dogs. But I can’t easily say whether I would have chosen to keep Fern or a puppy (or two).

Because, with the puppies, well … puppies, after all. Cute, cuddly, loving. Plus, they probably will not get much bigger than their mother, who’s about 30-35 lbs. Fred is the big, outgoing boy. Franklin shows a bit more need to explore than the others. Fiona, the only longer-furred pup and a true extrovert, shows a bit of waviness in the fur, as if she might have some spaniel or long-coated retriever in her heritage. And the smallest by a few ounces, Felicia, is just plain sweet.

But Fern is hardly more than a pup herself, probably closer to one year old than two. She still shows a puppy’s playfulness, enthusiasm, ability to learn quickly, and curiosity about new experiences. At the same time, she has a big head start over her pups in the areas of housetraining and in recognizing and responding to basic commands such as “sit” and “down.” And her satin-smooth dark caramel coat is both beautiful and easy care.

My husband would keep them all if we had the room. But if we’re to keep fostering, we need to stop with our existing shiba and the beagle-y pup we kept from Pearl’s litter that we fostered last winter. Plus, Perdita hasn't reached 1 year yet and still needs lots of training herself. And since we committed to keeping her, Seiki-the-shiba developed glaucoma, which means 3 meds 3 times a day, plus a dog who lost her young exuberance along with most of her sight. No time or energy to do justice to raising yet another dog from a pup.

So I’m hoping for loving, responsible people who realize how perfect these puppies would be in their families. And when you’re looking to adopt a dog, consider well: do you have the time for an adorable little time-sink of a puppy, or would your family be better suited with an already-somewhat-trained adult dog? But if you do want puppies, these are winners.

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