The fun side of breeding.....or not

As a breeder, we often hear comments about how fun it must be to have puppies in our home. While this is a very rewarding hobby, there are some downsides to the whole process that can be a cause of frustration for us and our families patiently awaiting the arrival of their little puppy. It is not always fun and happy times. In fact there is much work, planning and expense behind each and every successful litter. We have the worst case scenario happen occasionally, where we can lose a mama, an entire litter, or even a pup or two. It is pretty common place for me to spend many sleepless nights nursing a weak puppy only to find it die after a week of hand feeding. I have cried so many tears and told my poor husband I am going to quit when we lose a baby or something equally traumatizing occurs. But it is my love for our breed and the joy we share with our new families that keeps me going. There is nothing as rewarding as seeing your faces when you are presented with your new family member. The friendships we have created, the bonds that last a lifetime with our families really make it all so worth it in the end. When we see our hard work result in a beautiful new healthy litter of puppies, it is indeed something we are so thankful for, as we know all to well what a blessing each and every puppy are. I am a firm believer that without heartache, we can never truly appreciate the sweet times. It is not easy to produce puppies, as we are dealing with nature and it is not an exact science. For these reasons we remind all awaiting families that certain aspects are completely out of our control, and ask everyone to wait patiently for their baby. This is the greatest test of all, and those that have experienced the disappointment of having to wait longer than anticipated have all shared with me later on that it was WORTH THE WAIT! I have written a little update on our blog and explained a couple aspects that most families are not aware that we breeders deal with when planning our litters. I thought I would expand on this a little more and write about it here.

Sometimes the girls cycles get off cycle!

Dogs are just like humans in this area! When you get several girls together, they will re-sync and often cycle together. This means if we have a new addition, she can throw off everyone, as well as all my best laid plans! Not all girls cycle on schedule, sometimes they skip heats, or cycle once a year...every 8 months instead of 6.......All these factors make pre-planning dates extremely difficult. Just when I think I have it all in my pocket, Mother Nature throws me a curve-ball and my ever-on-schedule girl will suddenly be late! Oh bother, there goes the the plans for the Smith Family and their summer vacation before the arrival of little Lucy! Trust me when I say, it is very upsetting for me to have to let a family know we have to wait a little longer for the arrival of a litter. Most families are very understanding and anticipate this can happen, but I have had the occasional angry family who simply cannot understand that we are not a store where you can 'order' a puppy to be shipped ASAP. The spontaneous impulsive buyers are not the families I choose for my puppies.

Why I have a long waiting list

As the guardians of my little Habibi Bears, it is my responsibility and joy to seek out the proper placement for each of my little ones. I feel very strongly that the families that are planning ahead are going to be dedicated and committed for the long haul. And they are! I love the whole process of getting to know our families before their puppy arrives. Usually, by the time the litter arrives we feel like old friends and it is such an enjoyable experience for me! This is a partnership, and we must have respect and patience for Nature. I feel in part, the reason for our successful puppy placement is because I am very selective about who I allow on my waiting list. I am looking for like-minded families that are willing to allow the process to take its course naturally. I am a firm believer that when I respect each puppy individually without rushing the process, it always works out beautifully. I truly believe that every puppy always ends up in the home he was meant to be in WHEN I observe and patiently listen to each family and their needs. To me, these are my precious babies and each puppy deserves to be placed in the home that is best suited for his needs. So in the end, my process takes me much more time and dedication than most breeders who simply list puppies on a website with a 'click here to buy' button, but I feel it is the only way to respectfully rear and raise puppies. I want my puppies in their forever homes, so I would much rather spend the time before-hand to ensure they are placed appropriately than have to re-home puppies later on.

Crazy Heat Cycles!!!

It seems our girls are having another off-sync winter heat cycle. This seems to happen in the winter months, due to the darker days and the dogs being indoors more than out. We did breed two girls, but it doesn't appear the breedings took. When this happens, it can be attributed to a few factors.

Occasionally a female is bred and will even look pregnant, yet no puppies. When this happens, it is called a False Pregnancy. It is next to impossible to determine a false pregnancy until the female is close to the due date, and they show no signs of labor. I have experienced this on several occasions over the years, and when the dog is x-rayed, we saw water sacks with no puppies. The vets believe the dog has re-absorbed the pregnancy, but the body still believes it is indeed pregnant. The female will even lactate! It is amazing how their bodies are able to simulate a pregnancy, and it is a common occurrence in the dog world.

Another phenomenon of the canine reproductive world is a Split-Heat. This is when a female comes into heat, yet not a full heat where they can be bred, or doesn't come into a full standing cycle. They can appear to be pregnant, then all signs go away. Usually, the female will come into heat again in a few weeks where they can be bred.

And lastly, occasionally we experience a Silent Heat, where the female shows no signs of cycle, and without close monitoring can end up pregnant without the breeder's knowledge OR a heat can be missed due to the lack of obvious signs.

All in all, these issues are a very common and frustrating part of breeding that we often face. I find that our girls tend to have these issues when their cycles are syncing up together (just as humans do) or in the winter months.

This is why we always list our planned litters as an estimation, because truly, when dealing with nature some things are absolutely out of our control.

So in other words, we have to wait and see if we have a winter litter of mini puppies. In the meantime, our girls that are due to come into heat for Spring and Summer litters will be on schedule. Oh the joys of mother nature!