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  • Writer's pictureLouise Matley

Life and times of a breeder

Breeding pedigree dogs is not for the faint hearted. If you do it properly it means a lifetime commitment to your dogs and the puppies you breed. It also means dedication to improving the breed by carrying out the correct health tests and researching pedigrees, making sure the inbreeding coefficient is in line with or below the current level for the breed.

These last few months have taught me that breeding has it's lows as well as it's highs. Before this year I had bred three litters of 28 healthy puppies all living in loving homes. Earlier in the summer I was informed that one of the puppies, barely a year old, from my last litter had been diagnosed with lymphoma. Such a devastating blow. Even my vet said this was just extremely unlucky. I don't know of anyone who had heard of a dog this young with this diagnosis. The prognosis is not good but she is undergoing a course of chemotherapy. I saw her this week and she was full of life and energy. I hope and pray that she will be a miracle dog, who knows. In these times, I think we should be prepared for anything, who really knows what is around the corner?

Last week my vet told me that my darling Poppy had miscarried and was in the process of absorbing her litter (dogs do this before the puppies bones form). She was certainly pregnant and showing signs of it but she had been bleeding at one or two points during the five weeks of pregnancy, which worried me, and when this appeared to be getting worse I arranged for an ultrasound. No heartbeats but signs of membranes on the uterine wall. No puppies. Devastated does not come close to what I was feeling. Just a sense of emptiness and numbness like I have never felt before.

Nobody knows why this happens and there are many possibilities. The danger now is of a pyometra (infection of the uterus) which would be catastrophic and result in a full hysterectomy. I am hoping antibiotics will keep this at bay as the uterus recovers. I want nothing more than to be able to have one of Poppy's puppies but the health of my dear Poppy will always be a priority.

One of the hardest things has been telling prospective owners that there will be no puppies this autumn. I know very well the feeling of anticipation and excitement when waiting for a new puppy. I am so grateful to them for being so loyal and prepared to wait a little longer for their 'special' puppy.

This has not been a good year for many, many people for many, many reasons but I hope and pray that what I and others have experienced with our dogs this year will never, ever happen again. All I can do as a good breeder is to make sure my dogs are healthy and keep researching the breed and trying to understand how our beautiful golden retrievers can benefit from us learning what is good for them. Life goes on....

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