With careful planning, a multitude of patience due to unexpected events and the cooperation
of many people, we have completed a breeding that was done literally "COAST TO COAST".
Several weeks ago, I began talking with Chris & Mark in California after their intial phone call, inquiring
about possibly breeding their female, 'Poppy', to our Vindicator. Chris began the cytology testing and subsequent progesterone
testing on Poppy in California while I started working on the logistics of shipping fresh chilled semen to them from Maine.
While in the planning stages, I had a chilled semen kit from ICG (now owned by Synbiotics), shipped to my
vet. Also, a 'teaser' female was needed on our end to 'assist' in the process and as luck would have it, one of my females
was out of heat by the time we received the call to 'ship the package'. After a week long search, with the help of my handling
class instructor, I found a woman, Tina, in Strafford, NH (about 45 minutes from me) that had a Belgian Sheepdog, 'Doe' that
had just come into heat. I called Tina, told her of my delimma and she said as long as we were doing the breeding before
Saturday morning, she'd be more than happy to help out.
So.....I prayed....then had another idea - in case a contingency plan was needed (with Doe leaving on Saturday
morning for NJ, to be bred). On a whim, I called Chris & Mark, explained about finding Tina & Doe; then told
her if we go beyond Friday, we needed another plan. So, Chris & Mark got a rather odd introduction to the world
of dog breeding: I asked if they would 'swab' Poppy with sterile gauze then pack those swabs in polar ice and send them
priority mail to me. (The things we do for our dogs!)
At any rate, I felt better having Contingency Plan D in motion :)
On Friday around 6PM eastern standard time - 3PM pacific time, Chris calls to say Poppy is ready.
At that time, I hadn't received my 'special package' from Poppy ;) so, called Tina to see if
by chance Doe was still available to use as a teaser. Lady Luck was with us - Doe's transport arrangements to NJ were
postponed until Sunday. PHEW! Tina was more than happy to meet us at my vet's office 9:30 Saturday morning.
So it looked like all things were in place to proceed.......
First, I hadn't been able to get in touch with Chris & Mark because of bad storms (thunder, snow, sleet,
you name it!), to let them know we were doing the collection and shipment Saturday morning.
At my vet's all things look as though they are going as planned until the vet announces, ICG FORGOT to include
the semen extender in the kit and they had none in stock. Can't do the shipping without the extender.
My vet was livid - he came back from a business trip specifically to do this collection then was to leave
again to lecture at the seminar he was attending that weekend. (Trust me, Synbiotics received two nasty phone calls
on Monday morning).
With quick thinking, we called the closest reproduction vet in our area, which is a 2 1/2 hr drive for me.
We find out she has extender and says, come down now.
Tina decides she wants to go - instead of me just taking Doe with me. This is above and beyond what
a total stranger (until that morning) would be asked to do. It's especially so considering Tina cares for her elderly
mom who has had numerous strokes, cannot speak and is on a continuous feeding tube for nutrition/hydration.
Tina offers to drive in her van, since she has her mom with her. So, Tina, her Mom, Vin, Doe and I
head out to Massachusetts. While driving there, I make many phone calls to California, hoping to get the courier
pick up changed from my vet to the vet in Massachusetts and to hopefully confirm with Chris & Mark as well as their vet
that the shipment is on the way that morning.
WHAT A STRESSFUL BREEDING! ;)
We arrive in Massachusetts and within 10 minutes, we have our package ready to go (or I should say, Vin
has his package ready to go!). Courier service picked it up within an hour and it arrived in California 10PM pacific
time. Poppy is AI'd a little before Midnight!
I arrived home at 4:30 that afternoon -totally worn out! Only to find a package from Poppy waiting
in my mail that day....Murphy's Law prevails :)
Had it arrived the day before, Tina would have been spared the stress of my breeding encounter!
Finally, Sunday morning, I get to talk to Chris on the phone. Saturday, I did talk with her vet about
the flight arrangements, pick up etc however, this was the first time I had been able to talk with Chris & Mark since
Friday when they called saying it's time. They were still without electric power or phone and would be until Monday.
They called from a friend's house they were watching while they were in Fresno, CA at a dog show - of all things! :) The
friends still had phone service.
Funny how things work themselves out isn't it? Despite all our stress, we found a way to communicate!
Come Monday - another breeding is needed to reach California before Tuesday. After Tuesday, Poppy
would not be fertile....so, off to Masschusetts Vin and I go. This time I had the swab kit sent from Poppy and also,
the vet in Massachusetts advised me she had a female in heat at the office that day - made things much less stressful for
We complete the second collection, send it off by courier (by this time it's after 8PM eastern time). It
was another long day - I got home around 10:30 Monday night - totally wiped out again!
The shipment arrives in California around 11AM pacific time and Poppy is AI'd again on Tuesday.
Now, we leave it all up to the heavens in determining if the breeding is successful. Lord knows, we
(Chris, Mark, Tina and I) moved heaven and earth getting the job done!
If we are sucessful with producing this litter with chilled semen, we will have accomplished breedings by
using the following methods: Natural Breeding, Artifical Insemination, Frozen Semen Trans-Cervical Imsemination and
Chilled Semen Insemination.