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The Big E – Pleasure vs. Pain

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146 – May, 2018

BY ELAINE LESSIG

My cell phone rang on a recent Sunday morning. A friend and fellow kennel club member wanted some insight and advice on a 7-week-old puppy in her litter. She noticed that the puppy, the one who caught her eye over his first weeks of life, seemed listless. He no longer played with his littermates the way he once had. While he ate, it was without vigor. Losing weight each day, she took him to her vet. After examining him, the vet felt that a consultation with the pediatric specialists at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital might be useful. I agreed that it was worth pursuing.

“Maybe it is time to give up breeding. It is just too hard to keep doing this,” she lamented. “I have been doing my best for thirty years. I seem to be confronting more and more issues with each litter. I am starting to believe that there is a message I need to heed.” My heart hurt to hear her words. I knew how she felt. At some time, we as breeders all feel that very same emotion. How much pain can of doing what we love – breeding good dogs?

I too have been breeding dogs for thirty years. My first litter was a disaster drill to be sure. All the books, advice from colleagues, and preparations are of no value when your bitch spontaneously drops two dead puppies on your white bed cover and quickly delivers a third alive. How do you manage to drive to and from your vet’s office when you know that every puppy has died in utero? What can you tell yourself when two puppies in a litter of five are born with cleft palates? There are no words.

As unlikely as it maybe, what we do is carry on. Why? Defying logic, there is the hope that next time will be better. That long planned litter, which matches phenotype with genotype, doubtless will produce exactly the puppies we want. The sire and dam have produced well in the past, have all their health clearances, and are beautiful representatives of their breed. We get the timing right. Puppies are on the way. The bitch is eating well. All appears ready. Soon the puppies will be born. Those last days when we are on puppy watch are filled with anticipation. The time has come. Hours later a tired mom is feeding and calmly cleaning her newborns. A sense of euphoria fills the room.

Click here to read the complete article
146 – May, 2018

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=143716

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