or one of the best kept secrets on dog-breeding…
Coping With A Bitch In Season
Practically speaking, the owner of an unspayed bitch will expect her to come into season every six months. The season will last approximately 3 weeks and on average she'll be receptive to the dog during her middle week.
As with any organic function these can only be guidelines, and you'll know your own dog, so can adjust your life accordingly. If you don't own an entire male dog then your problems are reduced a hundred fold.
Ok, so we hear tales of dogs roaming far afield in search of females in season. Personally this is'nt something we have experienced and neighbours' dogs have been miserable but not inconsolable and get over it.
How Not To Do It
Until fairly recently we have always fallen into the category of 'those who cope'.
We bought a dog that showed fairly successfully, getting to Crufts a few times. He did basic obedience (up to the Kennel Club Good Citizen Gold level), and was trained to work in the field. When a friend who has always kept GSPs bred another litter, we jumped at the opportunity to buy another – this time a bitch.
Being fairly sensible and well organised people we thought we could cope with the seasons. Though our dog was unhappy for a couple of weeks each year he soon got over it and life reverted to normal, pretty much like with any male. The dogs were great pals and continue to be so.
There is always one day, isn't there? We have all been there, maybe we are not feeling 100%, maybe we have all been rushing around and not been able to talk uch and there is a communication breakdown. Or maybe we have just had one of those days at work, we're so tired when we get home that we don't focus. We make a little slip, a lapse in concentration, an error of judgement. Then Hey Presto! we're pulled up short; the damage is done.
That is exactly what happened to us. The “ships that pass in the night” conversations, the trying morning at work, the lapse in concentration when you get home for lunch, and the bitch screaming in the garden – et voila! the deed is done.
Both Dogs Were Of The Same Breed…
…and not related, also the bitch was of an age where the litter could be registered with the Kennel Club and a pedigree obtained (too old or young, and the Kennel Club would not give a pedigree), but we didn't feel ready to have puppies. Next, we visit the vets where a series of injections was given to stop the eggs embedding or so we thought (the morning after pill!). 99% effective so we felt certain we could relax.
We took our holiday and the dogs were duly kennelled. On returning from holiday we were greeted by two happy dogs (although they have always coped well with kennels they were always pleased to see us!) one of which had put on quite a bit of weight! Could she be pregnant we wondered? A quick visit to the vets in Bristol (where we had stopped to visit family) and we were reassured it was a phantom pregnancy and our wallets were suitably lighter. Life settled back to normal.
…a damp Summer day, a family sitting around the kitchen table playing cards and music from “The King and I” serenading us fromt he CD player. You know the song with the high pitched tune?
Mum says “What's that noise?”
“It's just the song”
“I don't think so”
“Look in the dog basket!”
99%? Don't forget there is always a 1%!
To cut the story short, two of the embryos embedded, and we were proud to have two gorgeous baby boy puppies. Both they and Mum were well and Dad was somewhat confused although accepting.
The vets were astonished, but “Life finds a way”. Interestingly enough Mum didn't take instantly to motherhood; once we'd had the all clear from the vets, we could consider our options.
I have always been a great believer of dogs knowing a lot more than we give them credit for. They seem to be good judges of body language, facial expressions and of course tone of voice. We spoke to her in a firm voice, told her to “stop her moaning and get on with it”. It may be coincidence, but she never looked back and was a wonderful mother. The puppies were a joy to have, we found fantastic homes for them and never regretted the experience.
I said at the beginning, “one of the best kept secrets in dog breeding” Once people know what we'd experienced folks said “I know someone… Yes, I had a litter like that… Did you hear about…”. It was surprising how many had had unplanned litters but not mentioned it. There was even a story of a mating that occured between the bars of a dog crate. I suppose 'Where there's a will there's a way!”.
Terry Devonald has bred one partial litter of German Shorthaired Pointers; she currently has no plans to breed another; but hey, who does?