Last year, I bred my Iris to Hamilton, but unfortunately, she did not get pregnant, and actually gave me a terrible scare by developing metritis after her due date. I do really want to have puppies from her so I am trying again this year (she only comes in season every 10-12 months, so it was a long wait!)
I still think Hamilton is an excellent match for Iris, and he is still producing puppies on a regular basis, so I know his fertility was not the issue.
When Iris developed a dark discharge last summer, I freaked out, I was afraid she might have pyometra, which is a life-threatening uterine infection. It started on a Saturday morning, and both the vet clinics I use that do reproductive work are closed on weekends. I learned the hard way not to take canine reproduction issues to a vet without reproductive expertise, as I had received incorrect advice for Iris’s mother, Vanna when her puppies were young. Iris didn’t have a fever, and didn’t act sick, which are hallmarks of pyo, so I was able to maintain composure (just barely!) I had one of the reproductive vet’s home phone number, so I called him, and he scheduled us to come in first thing Monday.
Not the Worst Case, Not the Best
At Schultz Veterinary Hospital, they brought us in, did a blood draw and an uterine ultrasound. The diagnosis was metritis, serious but not life threatening, it’s an accumulation o. Iris had to take a series of Lutelyse shots that help the uterus contract and expel the nasty stuff, and return for another ultrasound to confirm that the shots had worked.
Breeding Iris, Round Two
Iris came in season in March, about two months earlier than I expected, causing me to cancel some international travel plans (in light of COVID 19, they may have been cancelled with more drama later anyway.) I went through the usual drill of progesterone testing, with the added twist of doing a uterine ultrasound on the first visit. Fortunately, her uterus had not refilled with any concerning fluid, so we were judged good to go.
Another Dog Breeding Trip to Pittsburgh
This time, the timing was right while Hamilton’s owner was out of town, but thankfully, she had put multiple levels of back up plan in place. Dr Schultz had recommended that we do the first breeding as a transcervical insemination, and Dr Kate Gardner, a reproductive vet who also owns Bull Terriers, made room in her schedule to help us out, and another friend of Hamilton’s owner brought him over to the clinic. We stayed overnight an extra day to do one more early morning breeding before leaving for home. I put my extra day in Pittsburgh to good use and did some sight seeing at the University of Pittsburgh, where I toured the Cathedral of Learning.
We Had a Puppy!
Shortly after we got back, the COVID19 pandemic started affecting everyday life. Dr Schultz had recommended getting an ultrasound done to make sure the pregnancy was progressing normally. I had to wait in the car while a masked vet tech came out to get Iris and then the doctor called me when she came out. Everything looked good, and they saw 4 puppies. The local reproductive vet I used didn’t seem to be offering any office hours, so I ended up taking Iris back to Schultz for her x-ray a week before her due date, and at that time they only saw one, but of a normal size (sometimes single puppies grow extremely large.) We decided to plan for a natural delivery, but keep an eagle eye on Iris’s temperature and behavior.
As her due date approached, Iris didn’t really show any differences in behavior that are typical for dogs expecting puppies. No digging, no nesting, no practice panting. This can happen with single puppy litters because the puppy doesn’t secrete enough hormone to trigger these behaviors or even labor. Dr Schultz and I decided it would be best to do a preemptive C-section as her due date was on a Friday, if she went into labor over the weekend, or just kept the puppy beyond term without delivery, there was potential for disaster. Again, I had to wait in the car while she was taken in for surgery, and I was directed to the local Meijer as the nearest open public restroom, since I had to wait a couple of hours until surgery was over and Iris was awake enough to come home. Thankfully, the puppy was obviously full term and vigorous, she’s been developing normally, other than being big and fat due to having the entire milk bar to herself!