Juggling…

Breeding” takes up a LOT of time when done with intention and care!

What a week (or two) it has been! After tomorrow, I will have been to my vet seven out of the last eight days! Really, I should be getting a paycheck, right? Or a room there! Today (and first thing tomorrow morning), Ms. Vee will be getting inseminated with Grand Champion Tazo’s frozen semen. I am using the “good stuff” from a collection I did on him back in 2012. Back then, he had several collections done and frozen with varying quality simplistically rated as “ok”, “better” and “best”. These “collections” are taken and some of the collection is frozen, thawed and evaluated for these ratings. The decision on “what to use” for Vee’s breeding was difficult but easy in hindsight compared to future decisions that are being made!

Grand Champion Tazo… I will always miss this beautiful, sweet dog! He was the love of my life…

The reason for the multiple trips to the vet is based on timing; exactly WHEN to inseminate Vee? Vee has had a blood draw done every day to evaluate exactly when she ovulated and then, blood draws to make sure she is progressing to time her most fertile period of time. Frozen semen, once thawed, has the lifespan of approximately eight hours. Timing is crucial on insemination to conceive those puppies later. According to her progesterone results, Vee’s MOST fertile period of time will be Monday (today), Tuesday and Wednesday. We are doing two inseminations (actually transcervical so past the cervix using flouroscopy). We are picking the middle of her most fertile period of time so late today and first thing tomorrow morning doing two TCI’s (transcerical inseminations). And then… we cross our fingers and hold our breath that she becomes pregnant!

Vee doesn’t know what all the fuss is about? Always happy to be “the chosen one”, she has been enjoying the car trips and extra attention.

Meanwhile, Champion Deja has also been bred this season also. Deja was bred to a local boy, also a Champion. Her progesterone (blood test) was also monitored to make sure she ovulated as expected? Her “boyfriend” agreed she had; HUGE thanks to this stud dog owner for agreeing to do multiple breedings every other day to cover Deja’s fertile period. And to be sure she didn’t “stall” or quit progressing, we had another progeterone done to make sure her level was high; that her cycle was progressing as expected. It was.

Deja is a sweet girl and a most excellent “mommy”! Pictured here on one of our many trips to the mountains. In this photo, she was helping us organize our new barn “up there”.

After tomorrow, we sit back and wait. In about four weeks (actually 30 days), we can do an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy for both girls. Once pregnancy is confirmed, diet is adjusted for the growing puppies/pregnancy. Not to “count my chickens before they hatch”, our whelp date (day pups would be expected) will be April 22 for Deja and April 28 for Vee. This is important for future planning… we WILL be home and available to help each “mom-to-be” both in the delivery of puppies and then mom and puppy care afterwards.

Breeding ONE dog is very stressful; breeding two so close together… I must be crazy! I ALWAYS think the actual breeding is more stressful than the whelping/birth of puppies. Why? Timing is critical! One “shortcut” can mean the difference between having puppies or… NO puppies! So yes, we did those progesterone tests, even on the weekend when the price for doing them is doubled because it is considered an “emergency” appointment. And I’m putting my faith in my repro vet who HAS talked to me in person at length regarding the science and “the plan” even though we are doing all of these appointments “curbside” because of Covid and social distancing. Thinking ahead… I may opt to do a planned C-section for both girls (assuming they both get pregnant) so as not to risk losing any puppies. I’ve put too much work in both of these breedings to risk losing even one puppy later. Whether we have confirmed large or small litters, birth is always a stressful event on mom and puppies. It isn’t unusual to “lose” a puppy during the process. If I can avoid that, even at a greater expense, it would be worth it!

The size of the litter i.e. number of pups to be expected is done first by ultrasound when confirming the pregnancy although an exact count can not be made at this time and then later, at approximately 58 days, by x-ray, when puppy bones can be seen by x-ray. We then can count “skulls and spines” to determine how many puppies to expect? This is important because… we like to know where mom’s are at when delivering puppies? Sometimes a puppy can “get stucked”; we like to know this to be able to help mom’s throughout the entire labor and delivery process.

I don’t have puppies/breed that often because besides the amount of work involved, it always is a very emotional endeavor. Every one of my puppies has my heart. Puppy photo from my last litter two years ago.

Meanwhile, my new dog, Trek, is going out of his mind! He KNOWS the girls are “in season” and wants to be the daddy! Sorry buddy, NOT going to happen! I have him separated from the girls with a run in between them. Dogs have been known to breed through fencing to “get to those girls!” He is distractable so “training” has taken a back seat as he watches those girls from afar. When they go outside (I have indoor/outdoor runs), he goes outside and just pines for their attention. My neighbors will be glad when this is done and over with; his barking at the girls to notice him IS a bit obnoxious. Just another reason I live “out in the country”. At least all of my girls do cycle in unison. It is the “dorm effect” so that once one girl “comes in season”, they all do. Hormones are in the air around here right now!

Trek out playing in the yard (and burning off some excess energy)! Formal “training” is taking a backseat until the girls are out of season and hormones return to a more normal level around here!

Trek’s transfer of ownership has gone through so he is now officially “my dog”; yeah! And he is scheduled for HIS health testing coming up at a local “health clinic” which also will be “curbside”. Unfortunately, the canine eye vet appointments filled almost immediately so I will have to take him to a different eye vet to get his eyes tested. Yesterday I ordered his DNA swabs that will test for 133 genetic diseases. These are in addition to the core health clearances recommended by both the local and national Golden Retriever clubs. This health testing is not done just for future puppies but for the health and well being for the breed in general. It is an expectation that breeders do this testing. Both the Champion boy who hopefully will be sire to Deja’s puppies as well as Tazo used for Vee’s breeding have this health testing and clearances. I’m serious when I say “health” is a priority for my puppies. And any breeder who makes excuses as to why they didn’t do this health testing before puppies… well, they are just that; EXCUSES! Unfortunately many soon-to-be puppy owners may not realize this? I mean, every baby animal is “cute”, right?! But what is behind those cute puppies? It should be health testing done on the parents!

Off to create an account for Trek with the company that is sending me my DNA swabs. I’m using a different company than the one I’ve used in the past with my other dogs. And thanks to an online friend for the “heads up”; I’m using a coupon for a discount and allowing my DNA results to be part of a Golden Retriever Genetic Diversity study sponsored by the Mid Michigan Golden Retriever Club. Works for me!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and that you all do something today that makes you happy! It is sunny here with promises of being a beautiful spring-like day. I think I will go outside and play with the doggies!