Plus ça change….

….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.)

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