Today, an ultrasound showed that Hunter is definitely pregnant--the vet count 6 or 7 beating hearts in their little sacs. Hunter was an absolute doll for the ultrasound, and I scratched her chin and chest while she patiently waited upside down in the V shaped foam rest on the vet's exam table. It reminded me so much of her mother Nike's attitude during the ultrasound--just soaking up the attention and being very patient. This will be her first litter (just turned 4 years old), so I hope she's as good a mom as Nike too!
So, who's the daddy, you ask?
V Orus d'Ulmental, KK1a, SchH3
Well it was a really tough call, but I decided to try something different this breeding, and I did something I've never done before--I bred to a show-line male, V Orus d'Ulmental, KK1a, SchH3. He's breed survey class 1, a stamped, SchH3, and AD--that means that he was "recommended for breeding" by a German koermeister, passed his hip evaluations (and elbows, too), performed a 12 mile endurance test (the AD, which is a prerequisite for the Koerung), and has a schutzhund 3 title. He's a son of 2x German Sieger VA1 Vegas du Haut Mansard, a Sieger who is well-known for his working ability and sound temperament, and is linebred 5-2 on VA Max della Loggia dei Mercanti, a VA dog known for his ability to pass on strong working drives as well as his good looks.
When I met Orus, I was impressed by his confidence and clear-headed attitude. He showed strong ball drive as he played with his handler, Megan, and was aloof and neutral to my presence.
Too bad I cut off Orus's leg in this next shot--it would have been a nice image of him free gaiting with his beloved ball:
Blackthorn's Hunter, JHD
Hunter is OFA Good Hips and clear elbows and has an AHBA Junior Herding Dog title. I plan to do more herding with her and probably at least a BH title, but she had the poor timing to be born while I was in the midst of my schutzhund hiatus. She's a very calm dog in the house, good with children and sweet with strangers. She's got a lot of prey drive and loves to track. She's out of my Nike and the 2x USA Universal Sieger V Alex v Eisenhaus, KK1, SchH3, who is a Troll vh Milinda son.
Conformationally, she's very moderate and very balanced, although she could use a bit higher withers and just a bit more rear angulation (for my taste anyway--I prefer moderate rear angulation, but a GSD should have good "rear drive" and somewhat more angulation than most other breeds). She's an incredible agile dog, and always knows where every foot is as she goes over difficult footing.
So, I'm hoping with this litter to produce some beautiful puppies with confident personalities, plenty of prey drive, the ability to work at SAR or Schutzhund or herding or agility all day and then come home and relax on the couch all evening. I'm hoping for dogs who will love to work with their person, but who will be happy just to keep you company on quiet days.
The puppies should be black and red, with a lot of black pigment, but more extensive red/tan points than Hunter has. (Genetically, Hunter is bicolor/bicolor, and Orus is black&tan/black&tan, so all puppies will be black&tan with the bicolor recessive, which typically gives rich pigmentation and a large saddle area, like Nike, who is b&t/bicolor genetically.) I may get some long coats, which should make gorgeous companions. (As of this year, longcoats have been accepted for breeding by the SV in Germany.) I expect the pups to have very correct conformation--not as flashy or showy as their dad, but flashier than their very correct, very moderate mom. They'll probably be medium-sized adults--between 65 and 85 pounds for females/males.
Due date is June 12!