This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and I hope to do it through a video series soon. (You know, when that day finally comes when I have a little extra time.)
I want to take you through “the making of a puppy.” I have to admit- 20 years ago when we sought to have our first litter of Labradors, I thought it was much easier than it actually is. Here’s the short version….
- A female shows signs of coming into heat. Her mood changes and there is some noticeable anatomy differences. We keep a close eye on her and when she starts her heat cycle, we call our veterinarian. We are absolutely blessed to work with Schultz Veterinary Clinic and Countryside Animal Hospital…2 top notch reproductive clinics. Lots and lots of trips from Wheeler, MI to Lansing.
- We take the female in for a breeders consultation with our veterinarian. They do a complete check of her health to make sure that she is healthy and ready to have a litter. We then check to make sure there is no disease such as Brucellosis and Heartworm.
- Next is a blood draw to test her progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone released as a female ovulates. We will most likely test this 4-6 times during the first 15 days of her heat cycle. Once her level reaches a certain height, we know she’s ready to breed.
- We bring our girl back to the vet with our male to do a breeding when the time is right. The male is collected by hand at the vet and his semen is tested for motility. We’re looking for at least 100 million per 10 lbs of body weight and 80% motile. As long as it passes, the breeding proceeds.
- We do a Trans-cervical Insemination at our vet. We’ll use a catheter along with a small camera to reach into the females cervix and deposit the semen. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, sometimes it can take hours depending on a few factors.
- Another breeding, just like the first, occurs 2 days later. Then we pray for happy, healthy momma and puppies!
- 23 days after the final breeding, momma goes in for a pregnancy ultrasound. It’s so fun to see the puppy sacs, just 3/4″ long and the little flutter of a heartbeat. We’ll get a rough count (sometimes they hide) of the litter and momma now goes back home to rest and be babied.
- Momma gets a protocol of supplements, exercise and cuddles as the litter grows inside her. We love loving her!
- At 52 days, momma goes for an x-ray for a final puppy count.
- At 56 days, she moves into our whelping room in our home to prepare for her litter!
- 63 days after her progesterone level was 5.0 ng/ml, we expect puppies. We’ll monitor her 24/7 and have cameras set up over her if we have to step away.
- Then, the midwife extraordinaire, Alisha Karp, takes over with momma and makes sure that she and her puppies are happy and healthy during the entire labor.
- Labor is an entire post by itself. We are always on standby with our emergency clinic for a c-section if need be. Alisha always knows when things are going well or if momma needs some help.
- After the litter is born, it’s time to supplement mom more/differently and make sure her milk supply is in and the puppies are nursing and gaining weight! No resting yet!
- We finally get a break from the intensity of the 24/7 care during week 2 for a couple days as momma and pups sleep most of that time- we do too!
- Week 4 starts weaning, another whole other post!
- Puppies then meet their new families around week 8 and it’s so bittersweet!
This post is just a summary, basically off the top of my head, for what it takes to make a puppy. God is so good, we’re extremely blessed to be able to have this lifestyle. Oh yeah! Theres, family, school, dance, sports, ministry, church, farming….it makes for a crazy, fun life!