Joyce and all,
I know this was sent to the list (and by others as well) but yours was the first I received and it carried such a personal message for me. I received it a few days ago, just as our precious girl Dina (Ch. KaKily Starry Night of Pumamere-Copperridge, JC, RA, CGC) was preparing to deliver her first litter, sired by your beautiful boy Reggie (GCH Ashanti's Regulus of Royal Stars, SC, RE, CGC). I read a few lines, but the emotions it stirred up in me were more than I wanted to deal with at the time, so I set it aside to focus on the upcoming whelping.
As some of you know, it has been 6 years since our last litter, a horribly traumatic experience where we ended up losing the mom, Lea, during the birth and hand-raising 12 puppies, some of which joined their mom at the bridge in their first weeks. It was so heartbreaking that that Don and I weren’t sure we would ever have another litter. But it also gave us two special pups, Dina and Shaka, who have brought us such joy as family members and have given us a lifetime of show ring memories that we never would have dreamed possible. And the other six pups are bringing equal joy to their families.
So eventually, four years later, we decided to breed Dina. The first try didn’t take, nor did the second. The next time Dina was ready to breed she was 6 years old and it would likely be our last attempt. We took her to Reggie, who we knew Dina liked and who was now finally old enough to be her mate. They enjoyed a fun week together in Utah, romping in the snow and breeding when ready. And she did get pregnant.
Because of our past experience, we went the extra mile to ensure as much as possible that everything went well. The best vet we could find (even though an hour away), diet, exercise, every diagnostic, Whelpwise, the whole deal. She seemed large and stopped wanting to go for her walks about 2 weeks early, but they told us she had only 6 to 8 puppies. Labor began Thursday evening and kept Don up a good bit of the night. Whelping started yesterday morning with an easy delivery of one ridgeless liver-nose girl. She could not get the second puppy out, but we hung in there with the support of WhelpWise and it was finally delivered about three hours later breech with the legs tucked back. Stillborn, ridgeless. Heartbreaking but no time to grieve. More puppies were on the way. Puppy #3 was a ridgeless liver-nosed boy. Precious to be sure, but we began to wonder where the ridges were. There had been no apparent history of ridgelessness in either the sire or dam. So this was certainly not the fault that I would have expected to get expressed. Then #4 and #5, both with beautiful ridges. Dina had some trouble producing #6 and then she just shut down with more heartbeats inside. After 3 hours of no progress WhelpWise said it was time to see the doc and consider a C-section. Déjà vu for us. We called friends, cried a bit and watched with worry as they put our sweet Dina under and pulled out her uterus, huge with 5 more puppies. The first one out had been stuck there for 5 hours and was stillborn, a nice ridged girl. But no time for regrets, as the next four came fast and needed reviving. We sat with Dina until she woke up and then brought her and her 9 beautiful, strong pups home, arriving around midnight. I took the night shift, waking every time a puppy squealed.
This morning is a beautiful new day. Dina is eating and taking great care of the pups. We are getting a little rest. And I finally had time to sit down and read the “The Breeder”. By the end, I was just sobbing. The experience is just so fresh in my mind and the essay released a ton of emotion that I had kept in check in order to care for the dogs. Thank you for everyone who sent in supportive comments about the life of a breeder. It IS so very hard, but when I look in on Dina and her 9 babies and think of all the joy they will bring to a world badly in need of joy I know immediately why we do this.
Thank you Joyce, for sending this at a time when it had such meaning for us.
And thank you all for letting me share what is in our hearts this morning.
Kathryn and Don Blumenfeld-Jones