Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chasing Dreams - Blackthorn's Z Litter

A few months ago, I started trying to get puppies using frozen semen from Coal. I didn't try to collect him until he was an older dog, so I was only able to get about 2 breedings' worth stored before he became infertile.

I have seen more frozen AI breedings fail than survive, so I tried very, very hard not to get my hopes up, but inside my head, I was jumping up and down and crossing my fingers and feeling very superstitious. I didn't want to jinx it, anything could go wrong at any time.
Oda--"lightly" pregnant
I chose Oda for this attempt, a breeding I had planned since Oda was a young dog--only to find that Coal became infertile as he got older. The breeding of Coal's brother Jedi with Oda showed me that I had good reason to believe that I would get what I wanted from this combination--sound, drivey, intelligent, useful, beautiful dogs. Getting feedback from the owners of these puppies was invaluable in being able to make an informed decision.

First picture of the Coal x Oda pups!
But breeding via frozen (even with semen I own) is, in addition to being a very uncertain venture with a success rate generally lower than 80%, an expensive and time-consuming adventure. It involved three vets, multiple progesterone tests, 4 trips to Richmond over the course of 5 days, and a plethora of vet expenses over the course of the breeding and pregnancy--every step of the way cost money. Picking up the semen from the storage facility involved renting a container ($150), paying the "prep" fee for the storage facility to load the container ($75), and then a variety of expenses from progesterone testing (5 or 6 tests), semen quality analysis, surgical AI, DNA testing of the semen (to get Coal's DNA on record), and ultrasound (one more trip to Richmond) to check for the developing pups, and an xray (another trip to Richmond) to get a final count.

And, then, on January 17, Oda had four beautiful babies. Every cent and every second were suddenly worth it.