Archive for the ‘D Litter’ Category

The Thinking Thing

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Nina was such an easy dog to breed that I started out breeding Vallhunds with the idea that they were super easy and it was a doddle.

Then came Zhora.

There are many things I did in terms of breeding Zhora that I regret and wish I could go back in time to do differently.

I wish I’d started earlier with her. That’s the single biggest regret I have. She produced spectacular puppies and was a great mother, and it’s looking likely that her one litter was the only one she’ll have. I’m still hedging my bets on this because I want to see how it goes with Alice but…

I wish I hadn’t used mibolerone. I was told by a high profile repro vet that it was advisable to use it in any intact bitch to preserve her uterus from unbred heats. I do think that this was in good faith at the time, but I also think that the thinking is different now. I don’t know that this had anything to do with her issues, but…

Her issues maybe weren’t as huge a deal as they are in my memory. She missed or resorbed on our first attempt but I am convinced that it’s most likely that we bred her too late. That was fresh chilled and I thing we were a couple of days too late for success thanks to a weekend getting in the way. That was a very stressful breeding!

I think the same thing happened when we tried to do a TCI when a natural didn’t happen the third time I tried. I also think we may have been a tiny bit late that time by the time we actually got the breeding done.

Both times she failed to have a litter were with AI when extender was used. I know “they” say that extender doesn’t cause a problem but…

I wish I’d just bred her last winter when she came in just in time for me to have to skip the Invitational, but I was so excited about going to the National Agility Championship in the spring….I wasn’t to know that COVID would cancel THOSE plans.

So I decided I was going to breed Alice for the first time at around the same age I bred Nina for the first time. Nina was 2 1/2, Alice is almost 3. This gives me much more time in her breeding life to plan and adjust as needed, and more wiggle room for how many litters she can have (2 or 3 instead of 1). I think she is a pretty amazing dog and an excellent example of the breed in many ways.

But the heartbreaks with Zhora have for sure given me “once bitten twice shy” syndrome. I keep analyzing the timing for this breeding we just did. I am reasonably certain that at least the Saturday breeding was within the window. Even if she ovulated late Tuesday, the eggs wouldn’t have been ripe until Thursday, and they live for at least 2-3 days, which puts Saturday within the window.

Plus it was my first AI attempt. So we will see. I booked her pregnancy check for October 6 (that’s day 28), and I will just have to bite my nails until then. I am glad that she is young and healthy and I was so impressed with how she handled the indignities of the AI (she is like that about everything though, she takes everything in her stride, plus cookies help).

I wish I’d just done an AI on Friday, and I wish we’d actually started Thursday. But it is what it is! Fingers and paws crossed.

The Deed Is Done!

Sunday, September 13th, 2020

Ollie arrived Friday evening, we nearly had a tie but just couldn’t quite get it done. So Saturday Kat and I sat and watched several videos on how to collect and inseminate (thank goodness I took Renee the repro tech’s advice and picked up two AI kits on Friday!), and then we collected Ollie and inseminated Alice. We were pretty sure they could have managed a natural breeding yesterday but after three near misses we decided to just get it done one way or another.

I am fortunate that Ollie has been collected several times, so he knows what it’s about, and I was really impressed with myself that I managed it!

I think our timing should have been good (today is most likely the last day of the window). We got one AI done yesterday and another this morning. So hopefully we were well within the window, hopefully I did it right, and hopefully all goes well.

I am so grateful to Kat for driving here to make this happen. Fingers crossed for a healthy Alice and a pregnancy!

Ollie is such a lovely dog, so happy and friendly and easy-going, I am really excited to see how this cross turns out!

Dog breeding is not for the faint of heart, not many people can say that they spent their weekend learning how to collect and AI dogs…

Alice Progesterone

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

We started progesterone testing! Remember per Dr Gray “Identifying day of ovulation requires documenting a rise in progesterone beyond 4-8ng/ml with ideally at least a 2ng surge/jump over a 24 hour period.”

Day 5 Wednesday September 2: 0.3 ng/mL

Day 7 Friday September 4: 0.5 ng/mL

Day 8 Saturday September 5: 0.9 ng/mL (thank you for coming in on a weekend Linda, and thank you to another vet clinic that allowed me to drive the sample over to them to go out in their lab pickup!)

Going the right way for sure! And she has been just spectacular for her blood draws so far.

Alice Day 1

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Sad news about Lisa, then exciting news about Alice. I’d felt she was getting close to going into season and today turns out to be day 1!

I will start progesterone testing later this week, which will tell us when it’s time for Ollie to make his way here.

So exciting!

Plus ça change….

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

….Zhora being Zhora, she once again has taught me something about dog breeding. (content warning: if you are squeamish about discussion of dog body parts, maybe skip this post)

Around two weeks ago I noticed she looked like she was coming into season, so I started blotting her twice a day so I could catch and note the day she actually started (a dog’s vulva swells when they are coming into season, and generally “day 1” is considered the first day you see a bloody discharge). Knowing when the season starts is important, because you generally start progesterone testing 5-7 days after the first blood is seen.

She was licking herself a lot, the other dogs were interested in her nether regions, and I kept blotting and blotting and finding…nothing. There was one day I thought there was maaaaybe a tiny vaguely pinkish tinge on the paper, and I thought “any day now!”. I put Ollie’s owner Kat on alert that we were getting close (this was to be attempt #2 at Ollie x Zhora). And then…nothing….

My only excuse for not thinking faster is that there’s a global pandemic and NOTHING is normal about ANYTHING right now. But I kept thinking “maybe I should run a progesterone on her”. So I did on Tuesday. And she was at 17.9 already! I emailed and called my awesome repro vet’s office, the awesome tech Renee (the one who saved Cora) emailed me and then called me right away. She said it would be a hail Mary for sure, it wasn’t impossible but it was likely that if she did conceive, it would be a tiny litter (raising a singleton puppy is a huge headache and almost worse than having no puppies sometimes). I asked about trying again and she asked what the breed’s lifespan was, and when I told her Zhora’s grandfather was nearly 17, she said it was worth a try, might be a smaller litter but wasn’t impossible.

Of course I posted on the wonderful repro group on Facebook, and several people said they’d had large litters with progesterone up to 30, so I frantically messaged Kat, started getting myself sorted out to tear ass to meet her on the Thruway, but then my repro vet said “progesterone level on the day of breeding is irrelevant. Days after ovulation is what’s important when determining fertile period. Identifying day of ovulation requires documenting a rise in progesterone beyond 4-8ng/ml with ideally at least a 2ng surge/jump over a 24 hour period. Remember that while the average bitch may end up about 18ng/mL on about day 3 post ovulation, one cannot expect that every bitch at 18 is on day 3. In fact, many bitches will stay below 10-15 throughout an entire pregnancy. With having only one level available it is impossible to determine days post ovulation. We can only determine that she did in fact ovulate. Now, as a breeder, if a particular breeding is critical and the stud dog is available then there’s no reason not to try – and there is a chance for a normal litter. However, one must be prepared for a miss or a very small litter (ie singleton) if the bitch is near the end of the window and allocate resources accordingly. Hope this helps clarify some things..”

So now, the D litter will be Ollie x Alice. Given Zhora’s history of not being the easiest dog to breed, the thought of going through all that panic and worry to have maaaaaybe one puppy….just not worth it. I learned from my experience breeding Zhora that I far prefer how I did things with Nina: first litter at 2-3 years old. So that’s what we’ll do with Alice. She’s due to come into season in August, so now we wait…

IF YOU HAVE CONTACTED ME ABOUT A PUPPY: please stay in touch! This litter should be bred in August and born in October if Alice follows the textbook (which Zhora has taught me isn’t always the case!).

(I VERY MUCH would like to co-own one or two puppies from this litter. If you might be interested in co-owning a puppy with me, ESPECIALLY if you are someone interested in showing or trialing your dog (agility, herding, obedience, I don’t care what), please email me. I think I am quite reasonable with my co-own contract, but I’ve only done it once so far. On a co-own, your purchase price is lower, and basically the dog is yours except for breeding. The dog lives with you, I just borrow it occasionally. Anything breeding related is paid by me (including show and trial entries if they are shows/trials I wish the dog to enter). The dog must stay intact until I determine its breeding/showing career is over, at which point the dog is sterilized at my expense and signed over to you at no further cost to you.)

Nobody Home

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

So the ultrasound was today, and while it wasn’t Dr Gray doing it (she’s off this week), and wasn’t a repro vet, we didn’t see anything.

There are very rare cases where there’s one or two puppies who aren’t seen on an ultrasound at this stage, but it’s unlikely that this is the case.

Our timing should have been good, the breeding should have been good (although they did use extender on the semen for some reason). Just wasn’t meant to be this time.

I am debating what to do, but I am leaning towards trying again on her next heat. Stay tuned.

Day 16

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Today is day 16 (from ovulation) and I see what I hope are promising signs (ultrasound appointment is July 9)! I’ve been looking back over my notes and posts from the last litter.

Zhora is very, very mellow. Happy to go for a walk and bouncing around all over the place when we are getting ready to go, but otherwise snoozing most of the time.

She is very, very affectionate, especially with Jim.

She has that cow-eyed, lovey look all the time.

It’s important to remember that her body is going to behave more or less as if she is pregnant, whether she is or not.

If she is pregnant, the embryos will be implanting very soon (roughly day 18-21). This is called “nidation”. Right now they are little blobs floating around free in the uterus after having migrated down into the horns over the last week or so.

She is eating her normal food, and getting her usual probiotic and Omega Fatty Acid supplement, plus folic acid. Normal walks and fetch in the yard but no agility.

The deed is done!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

The awesome Bekka met me Sunday night to do another blood draw. I drove that sample to my repro vet Monday morning first thing and also sent some of the same sample to the IDEXX reference lab. I got the call about 10:30 that it was 10.9 per my repro vet’s machine and 10 per the reference lab, so we needed to breed Monday night into Tuesday for ideal timing. Thanks to my awesome co-worker and friend Caroline, I booked it out of work, ran home, threw some things into a bag, and Zhora and I hit the road for Massachusetts!

Ollie’s owner Kat had come up with an awesome plan for a location. I was asking if she had a quiet room at her house or, failing that, we should probably do it in my motel room. She had a better idea. We met at her campsite, out in the country and very quiet. Plus! We stayed there!

Now Zhora is a strong-willed dog with a lot of personality, and that, plus her being more mature than Ollie, meant that I think he found her a little intimidating. She snarked at him a bit (as many do), and he took it personally (she also snarked at Bert, but Bert is experienced and comfortable being assertive). He was very interested, but very polite. So we didn’t get a natural breeding Monday night. I’d made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon with a local repro vet as a backup plan, and I was VERY glad I did! Tuesday morning we drove the dogs over to Kat’s training center, where they could run around together and have some room. Zhora was very flirty and I think if Ollie had been a tad bit less polite they’d have managed a natural, but this is his first time being bred and I REALLY didn’t want her to put him off the whole idea so….off to the repro vet we went!

We showed up at Slade Veterinary Hospital in Framingham, where we met with Dr Gatlin. She and her staff (all breeders) talked us through what was going to be done. Kat commented that this was the weirdest thing she’s ever done in the dog world. Poor Ollie was horrified, then thrilled, then horrified again, then he wanted a sandwich and a beer. His semen was excellent (92% motility (“are they moving?”) with over 88% progressive motility (“are they going somewhere?”), it was also a large sized sample for a smaller breed, so yay Ollie. We did a vaginal insemination and then I agreed to take part in a study which required a blood draw, so I decided to run another progesterone while we were there to decide if we needed to try a second breeding the next day. The progesterone came back at >20, which made me panic until I asked if it was an IDEXX in house machine, which it was. Dr Gray had told me (and others on my repro groups also said) that the IDEXX in house machines can be very inaccurate with the higher numbers.

I emailed Renee and Dr Gray with the details, and Renee sent me a pregnancy calendar (due date is August 11), and Dr Gray said not to worry about that progesterone number at all, that she’s seen colleagues report >20 on the in house with reference lab numbers closer to 7. So we should have been comfortably in the window (Tuesday would have been day 2-3, which is well within the ideal window).

So now we wait. I have some planning and thinking to do, but first we will see if she’s pregnant or not. That will be around July 7th.

I am so grateful to Kat for all her help, for her hospitality, and her company. We had an awesome time talking dogs dogs dogs for a day and a half!

Ollie and Zhora 6/11/19

2.5!

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Zhora’s progesterone was at 1.3 on Thursday (day 6), which was higher than I expected that soon (she ovulated on day 14 last time, but day of ovulation can vary wildly from season to season, as any repro vet will tell you, Nina didn’t ovulate until day 21 when we did the frozen semen breeding for the B litter!), and then late yesterday (day 7) she was already at 2.5, which is associated with the LH surge, which happens before ovulation. So we could be looking at breeding as soon as Monday (eggs take 24-48 hours to mature and live for about 5 days after they are ovulated).

So the plan right now is to do another blood draw late tomorrow (Sunday, of course), drive it to my repro vet (the awesome Alliance Animal Hospital) in addition to sending some out to IDEXX so we know whether or not the numbers match. And then we may know about travel plans (one of the reasons Vallhunds are tough to breed sometimes is that you generally have to travel, or ship dogs or semen, to get the breeding you want).

Even when I have my ducks in a row, this time-critical stuff is always stressful!

ZHORA DAY 1!

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Zhora JUST started her season this evening…plans are being made! Watch this space!