Frozen Semen Breeding and Artificial Pet Insemination - Stella Johnson and her puppies

Not all perfect matches live within a 50 mile radius of each other. So what do you do if your perfect mate lives in a separate city, state, country or even continent? Such was the dilemma for Stella. A beautiful female Portuguese Water Dog (thinks President Obama's current dog), who had a planned breeding to a male living a long distance away.

Stella was first given a physical examination by Dr. Mary Sebzda (AKA Dr. S) to confirm that she was healthy and capable of carrying a litter of puppies successfully to term. After her physical exam, Dr. Mary Sebzda decided to collect a swab from Stella's vagina to assess the types of cells present for signs of impending estrus (readiness for breeding). Dr. Mary Sebzda also ordered a progesterone test that day to further stage at what point in Stella's estrous cycle we were starting at. We confirmed within 12 hours that we were at the beginning of Stella's estrous cycle.

As no 2 situations are exactly alike, we found that this one was made particularly challenging by the fact that Stella's mom lived more than 3 hours from our hospital. This meant daily or even every other day measurements of serum progesterone and vaginal cytology would be impractical for us to conduct. Our plan was to have a local veterinarian (closer to Stella) collect blood every other day for progesterone levels and test the same blood for another hormone (LH; or luteininzing hormone) at approximately 5 days from the onset of her heat, until an LH peak was identified.

Within 4 days, we had confirmation of rising levels of progesterone and a peak of LH to assure us that Stella was about to ovulate. Ashley (Stella's owner) ordered semen from another Portuguese Water Dog saved frozen at a frozen semen center located in Missouri (Synbiotics).

The container arrived the next day, and the semen was stored in hospital until the day of Stella's planned insemination.

Stella was surgically inseminated with the thawed frozen semen 5 days after her calculated date of ovulation, and released home the same day.

She returned 25 days later for Dr. Mary Sebzda to confirm by ultrasound that she was carrying 7 live, healthy puppies which she delivered right after Christmas (12/29/10).

The American Kennel Club has registered litters of dogs created by frozen semen since 1981. Although frozen semen is still not as widely used in dogs as in other species- cattle, horses, and humans, it certainly has merit in a variety of situations: selection of sires living at a distance, selection of sires of superior genetic stock, use of sires that are no longer available due to neutering or death, prevention of certain forms of disease either transmissible by semen or heritable traits for which parents can be screened prior to semen collection.

We are delighted to bring to this planet, Stella's 7 lovely offspring and look forward to sharing more stories of successful solutions to the complications of life.

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