The ups and downs of unexpected dog breeding
You never know quite what your day will bring being a vet, but sometimes the bigger surprise is for the owner.
I had a lovely client with two older dogs who decided to get a rescue dog to add to her pack. She got a sweetheart of a mixed breed with lots of character and a lovely personality, who fitted in very nicely with her older furbabies. Life was good and, apart from a few minor changes to the home, the adoption seemed to go very well indeed.
A few weeks later I got a phone call from the owner early one morning: “I think you should come over and please bring the ultrasound machine, I think we might have a problem.”
When I arrived I took one look at the new dog – and the owner’s ghostly face – and knew immediately that she was pregnant.
The owner laughed nervously and said, “Please tell me this is a false pregnancy.”
I already knew it wasn’t, but performed an ultrasound so she could see the pups for herself. As soon as I started to scan, there were several healthy pups waving back at us on the screen, all with strong heartbeats and clearly well along in their development. This girl had definitely been pregnant before she arrived at her new home.
“Well,” I said. “I think congratulations are in order.”
The owner replied that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and nervously asked how long she had to prepare for the pups.
I smiled and said, “You’ve got about a week so we’d better get started.” The poor owner just about lost her mind at this point. This was a lot of news in a very short amount of time. She had to sit down for a minute.
We made a list of all the things she would need: whelping box, old towels, heat lamp, puppy food, emergency vet on speed dial.
Luckily there are some amazingly kind and very experienced breeders on this island who jumped to her rescue and, by the end of Day 1, we had pretty much set her up for the whelping.
We switched the mummy dog over to puppy food to give her some more calories, but she seemed to be handling everything very well, just as nature does.
Seven days later she gave birth to eight beautiful healthy pups, each one a different colour. We called them our rainbow litter. They were beautiful. The owner did an amazing job.
Even though she was thrown in at the deep end she rose to the occasion and would now tell you it was a wonderful experience – if not a huge amount of work. Needless to say, as soon as the pups were weaned and happy in their new homes, their mum was booked in for a spay. Her owner said once was enough.
Breeding dogs can be a huge amount of work and takes a lot of careful planning – from choosing a mate right through to weaning and finding loving homes. It also takes time and money so always get good professional advice if you are thinking of doing it.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda