Hello all. It has been several days since I’ve posted. I wanted to talk to all the wonderful families on my waiting list personally before I posted the news publicly. Since it is the holidays not everyone was readily accessible.
I took little miss Rosie into the veterinarian Wednesday, a day early (went to a different vet since the other insisted I wait) and saw a veterinarian that worked under our canine cardiologist for many years previously so I felt confident he would be knowledgeable.
Immediately the vet said that Rosie looked and felt to be in-whelp (pregnant) and ready to deliver, though it must be a small litter. But he said that he didn’t trust himself since pups can be very hard to feel (very hard) and so he wanted to get concrete proof before we started finding out why the pups were over-due.
We had an x-ray done. Yes, I hate x-rays but in this case we really didn’t have a choice and we needed to be sure that emergency action wasn’t needed. When it comes down to these kinds of situations we all make the best choices available to us and an x-ray was the right way to go.
We received good news and bad news. The good news is that there weren’t any poor little dead puppies, Rosie did not require a cesarean section and Rosie is in excellent health. The bad news is that we were having a phantom pregnancy and there were no puppies to be had.
The vet felt that due to her enlarged teats (which contain milk) and all the pregnancy signs she could potentially be less than 43 days pregnant (since pups don’t show up on x-ray until after day 43) but I am 100% positive about her season dates and know that it simply isn’t a case of a bizarre cycle. So it is a phantom pregnancy.
The vet told me multiple times that it happens very frequently, but it was still disappointing that it happened to us. We were sad for the families waiting for a baby and sad for Rosie, who was ready to whelp babies but had none to whelp and I was also sad for not getting to see another beautiful litter of canine miracles.
The veterinarian told me that the way to “cure” the problem is to cut Rosie’s food and water in half for several days and she’d be back to normal. He said he has no idea why but it works every time. I really need to look it up and find out why that works.
Rosie was already not eating or drinking hardly anything at all since her body was insistent that she was in early labor and about to whelp imaginary puppies. So I didn’t need to do much there. Because of her water refusal, however, she was a little dehydrated so the vet gave her some fluids (under the skin) before we left and we hoped that would make poor, sad mama Rosie a little more comfortable.
My post title is “Good Things to Those Who Wait”…
I say that all the time. I’m constantly chiming “patience is a virtue” to my children though in my head I always finish the sentence with “…one that I don’t posses”.
Getting a healthy, high quality dog in any form; crossbred or purebred; working or pageant; companion or champion is always going to take a great deal of patience. Any time I decide to have a late night click-through of my favorite breeders’ pages (it is one way to pass the time while rocking a colicky baby at 4 am) I see the same time frame in print: you must be willing to wait 6-9 months for a high-quality dog. And don’t I know it! I have always waited so long for my dogs and many times I had to skip out on a litter and wait for another until the little sweetie that I was looking for was born. Of course I’m going to have a far more critical eye and stringent standards than your average family looking for a companion will.
But still, I say “all good things to those who wait” and know it to be true. But sometimes it is so hard to be patient. And that is something my children frequently point out.
And now it seems that I am going to have to accept that sometimes I need to be patient and set a good example for those wonderful people who receive my puppies and a good model for my children.
But I don’t wanna. I wanna sit down on the floor with Rosie in my lap and sulk. And that is what I did (when the kids were in bed-I do have some standards) for the last couple of nights.
Since Wednesday’s trip to the vet she has been confused. She continues to go to the whelping box and look into the nest. She does this quite frequently when she has a non-imaginary litter. If she isn’t in the nest with them then she likes to watch them sleep by sitting outside the whelping box and resting her chin on the wall and peering in. In many ways doggie mamas are not much different from people-mamas.
Rosie where her missing babies should be piled up asleep, then comes to me and paws at me and nudges me and whines a little. Then she returns to the whelping box, looks in, then looks back to me. Her sweet doggie eyes look sad and I can practically hear her saying “Mama, were are my babies? I can’t find them. Please help me” and it makes me feel terrible because I cannot help her.
I removed the whelping box while she was out playing a good invigorating game of fetch and taking a walk with my husband. That helped significantly by the second day (Thursday) and by today (Saturday) she is practically back to normal. Her coat is starting to return to its normal color and texture (female dogs “blow their coats” when they have puppies) and she has stopped looking for her puppies almost entirely (except for once or twice today).
I have been trying to keep her busy playing with the other dogs and going for trips, visits and just getting out of the house in general. She seems to be coping well. Dogs are so resilient. I’m not quite as flexible and I know I’m just a tiny bit sad still, even though I know it happens and that it isn’t my fault and there will be other litters.
It has been a rough doggie month for me, since I decided not to breed one of my beautiful girls again (Fern) since a couple of her puppies had submissive tendencies (she had her first litter a couple of months ago). Fern will make an amazing pet and she is such a sweet and pretty dog and her first litter was a handsome bunch but these are the hard decisions breeders must face. It is important for breeders not to become “kennel blind” and keep breeding dogs that ought not to be bred. It is easy to love all of them and allow yourself to fail to see the faults.
But it doesn’t make it any easier when you must spay a bitch you’ve invested thousands of dollars in and 2 years of time and work (and oh, the endless hours of training). The emotional side of it is harder for me, as I love her and she was such a devoted and tender mommy. It is so easy to see all the points you cherish in your pet, but much harder to force yourself to view her with the critical eye of a working-dog handler and a breeder.
Sometimes breeding is a lot of fun and extremely rewarding but other times it can be frustrating, disappointing and downright sad.
We can’t control nature we can only help encourage it in a certain direction. I cannot control the creation and timing of my puppies any more than I can control a creeping vine I train on a trellis. I can encourage its growth, nurture it and guide it along the shape and path I prefer and I can do everything in my power to keep it healthy but ultimately I cannot have any genuine control over the life and growth of the vine.
And I won’t pretend it isn’t a little maddening sometimes.
Thankfully my disappointed families did not make me feel any worse, they were all so gracious (I always have the most wonderful people on my list) and that is always something to feel grateful for. (And if any of you are reading this I thank you a million times over for not making me feel worse). So there is some good in there, good people, good dogs and we’ll have another good litter in just a few months’ time. Hopefully I will be posting soon that Rosie has come back into season!
Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me. I’m excited to try again soon… and now… we wait. (Arg. There’s that word again. Eventually I’ll master this patience stuff…. I hope.)