Lady Misfortune Deals us a Breeding-Ending Card

How silly of me to write of our nice weekend with blue skies and happy goings on here in dogville. My cousin Ron had remarked that it was getting depressing to read the blog events with the never ending litany of misfortunes. So it was satisfying to write on Sunday of life events that were not life threatening. A honey of a weekend to sweeten our taste buds grown bitter with the daily dose of vinegar we have come to expect in our breeding lives.

Monday began innocently enough with everyone feeding and active. Barb went out for an errand and returned to find Riley lethargic and hot in the whelping box. Her temp was near 106 degrees and a check of her nipples revealed a swollen back breast with the less developed nipple. An emergency visit to Dr. Feldman found another mastitis location with a bacteria obviously resistant to the amoxacillin she was already on. An afternoon stay at the vet hospital became a necessity, and after IV fluids and IV antibiotics, we were able to pick her up last evening.

This meant once again, the end of Riley’s breast feeding ability (the same had happened to our Emma last litter but further along from her delivery). We are now watching Riley closely for the possibility of an abscess that might require surgical drainage. So Barb called me, understandably upset yesterday afternoon, with this news as she was on her way to buy preemie nursing bottles and goat’s milk. Our mentor Berna Welch, Mulder’s owner, gave us some sage advice about how to take over Riley’s job. So it was with some trepidation and anxiety that I made my way home after work last evening. We had at least a week of bottle feeding the pups ahead of us, every three to four hours, with no experience in this situation. The task loomed large and forbidding in both our minds.

But lo, something amazing happened… the pups took to their bottle feeding ways with bravado and enthusiasm. What we both thought would be a burdensome task, has now turned into a wonderful experience interacting with mother nature in a new way. I grew up watching  “Wild Kingdom” on our black and white television as a child, where exotic animals were featured each week. I can still vividly recall the park rangers feeding the orphaned tiger and lion cubs out of a bottle. And here we found ourselves, doing the same thing, standing in for their disappointed and frustrated mom. Thus you can see the smile on my face in some of these photos from last night and today.

What you can’t appreciate from these pictures is the amount of goat’s milk you get on yourself doing this task. A different smell to your clothes for sure after each meal also! After the pups have chugged down their milk, we pile them into the little box while we clean the whelping box. They love to cuddle when they are stuffed with milk.

Of course, my smiles above, were for the camera only, for in my heart I know this is a career ending event.

We had lost Solo’s breedability two years ago because of her mild hip dysplasia. Last year we had lost Emma’s ability to have any more puppies secondary to her breast issues. Lucy was disqualified in March with her new eye problem. Now we have just lost our Riley to nature’s ill whim again. So our four breeding females are no longer breedable. We are at our limit of tolerance and zoning for our six that we presently have. So we have now been forced out of the puppy business in spite of all our efforts. While I had hoped that my reliance on science would override the infertility issues and any other medical happenstance, I forgot one very basic rule: In breeding as in life, the House always wins. So while I will try to put a smile on the good fortune that we have had with these six healthy miracle puppies, a tear is forming in my heart, as I know that each day that passes we are coming closer to saying goodbye to all this. So we will live in the moment as Abby taught us so long ago, and enjoy every memory that comes our way. When I was out with our daughter Kristen Sunday, it occurred to me that we have six generations of our Goldens presently under our roof. It looks like this will be the end of Abby’s line. Not the end of her story however, as there is a lot of adventure still to be written in the minds and hearts of her offspring and their families.  But..


As I was writing my final words, Lucy and Rocky came storming up the stairs covered in black mud from the backyard. I had left the backdoor open so the dogs could do their business while Barb was in the basement with the pups, and I was writing this upstairs. Big mistake.

Thank God Isabelle who cleaned our home today won’t see this post.

As I followed the muddy tracks back through the house, I suddenly couldn’t  remember what I was going to miss about this business…