Breeding another successful Love Story at NHAH: by Mary Sebzda

Alex, is a big beautiful Weimaraner, from which we (his owner and I) had long desired to see sire a litter of puppies. Alex and his owner had their hearts set on: Tiffany, another beautiful Weimaraner living nearby. This shouldn't be a problem with proximity or logisitics, right? Just wait for nature to take its course... Well, it seems like the best ideas sometimes fall short of their mark when it comes to nature.

So great to have diversity in nature, but not when it leads to subfertility or infertility in the male. The reproductive system is the one organ system of your body that can have so many adaptations or anomalies and yet the animal still lives a healthy life, albeit without offspring. This is one of the reasons, Dr Sebzda loves her specialty in medicine (theriogenology) so much, because there are always new and exciting cases to work on. It can however sometimes lead to frustration.

So back to Alex. Alex is big and beautiful, but has many defects in the sperm that he produces and is incapable of having semen frozen and stored for future use. Some of the defects are so severe, his fertility even at a natural mating, is questionable.

Tiffany is just getting to an age suitable for pregnancy and delivery of a litter.

Since Tiffany is not in season yet, and the owner hopes desperately to produce a litter with Alex's one true love, we set upon the adventure of trying antioxidants and other medications to improve Alex's semen quality. From the start of initiation of medical therapy, it would be 2 months or longer to see any benefits, as the timeframe for production of a new sperm cell and its transport through the complex ducts and storage will take this long. Within 2 months we see some improvement, but still not enough to assure collection to freeze semen that we would be able to use as a frozen sample in the future, whenever Tiffany reaches her next heat.

And then as luck would have it, all the stars line up, and Tiffany comes into heat in the nick of time and is successfully bred by Alex just after Christmas. Everyone is jubilant in anticipation of a possible pregnancy. I hope with all my might, that what we have done medically is just enough to create a pregnancy of sufficient size that there will be 1 or 2 males puppies that can be future breeding replacements for Alex, to continue his line.

4 weeks later, we are again elated to discover Tiffany is indeed pregnant and expecting 5 puppies. Her owner sets about reading all the information sent home about preparing a whelping area, dietary changes to support pregnancy and nursing and what to expect during whelping.

Then the BIG day arrives. We are expecting a litter of puppies, but apart from some weak abdominal contractions early in the morning, Tiffany hasn't done very much. We measure her serum progesterone and find it to be low enough that she should be whelping today. After discussing the risks versus benefits of a C-section, we decided it was in the best interests of both the puppies and Tiffany to proceed with surgery.

About 1 hour later, we were greeted by 5 new, happy wriggly newborns and in about another hour, Tiffany was awake from the C-section and able to nurse with assistance.

Tiffany seemed a little unfamiliar with her surroundings and a little confused about her role as a new mom for most of the evening, but she quickly got into the hang of things by the next morning.

The puppies continue to thrive, eat well and bulk up in size every day. Tiffany and Alex are proud new parents and everybody has a smile on their face.

It's great to be involved in the creation and preservation of life where their once existed obstacles. Oh and Alex now has 2 daughters and 3 SONS to continue on his genetics.

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