March 5, 1997
It has been three and one half weeks since the "chilled semen" procedure was performed on Colleen. At 12:45 PM today we will make the journey to Dr. Grogan's clinic for an ultra sound. The ultra sound will tell us very quickly whether we have had a successful venture.
12:35 PM - Colleen and I arrive a few minutes early for our appointment. I put her on the scale for a weigh-in and she weighs 56 pounds today. That's one pound lighter than she weighed the day of the procedure.
We spend the rest of our time watching as various animals and people come in and out of the lobby. An old St. Bernard is being ultra sounded ahead of us. His owner visits with me in the lobby while his wife and mother stay in the exam room with the dog. The Saint is almost 12 years old and is suffering from not only heart problems but hip dysplasia as well. He can no longer walk and is pulled from the exam room on a blanket to the door. From there his owner, his wife and mother struggle to pick him up and carry him back out to the van. I can't help but feel their sorrow. Their decision must be what is good for the dog; however, I know only too well how painful a decision like this can be to one's heart. Perhaps he has a few more weeks or months and they will decide for themselves what is best for him within the next few days. I wish them well as they journey down this heartbreaking, well-traveled road.
1:00 PM - We finally begin our ultra sound procedure. Dr. Grogan shaves just a small portion of Colleen's abdomen to allow better contact with the viewing camera. Colleen is tense at being put on the exam table and then made to lie down. We finally get her to relax long enough and Dr. Grogan begins scanning her abdomen. After several attempts to locate any puppies with Colleen lying down, we stand her to try again. We find no signs of fetuses Dr. Grogan palpates Colleen and again finds no signs of pregnancy.
To say I am disappointed is putting it mildly. I had so wanted a Colleen litter this spring. I am, however, one of those who believes that everything happens for a reason and although I don't know right now what that reason is, someday I will.
What went wrong? That is impossible to determine with absolute proof. Colleen was young and healthy with no signs of infection. Her thyroid checked out normally prior to the breeding. Dr. Grogan tested the sperm for mobility prior to the procedure and the sperm was alive. There are simply too many variables and there is no finger of blame to be pointed in either direction. We must remember that each time we breed we are taking the "luck of the draw" or in this case it was the "luck of the straw." Whether I try this procedure again, will remain to be seen. In nearly 30 years of breeding this is the first time I have ever had a bitch miss. Is it just a coincidence that it occurred now while I was trying something new, or was I just due for a miss after so many years of success? Again, the answers are impossible to assess.
My Personal Opinion
My own opinion is not based on medical facts, science or any "professional" basis, but is merely derived from 30 years of experience in breeding and a consistent history of fertile bitches. What's my gut feeling? I think the procedure was performed too early. Looking back I think we should have done another progesterone level on Wednesday, and perhaps another on Friday before the procedure was done. Colleen received her first procedure on day 9 and the second procedure on day 10 from the time she showed color. I traditionally have bred my bitches on there 11 and 13 day and on a rare occasion have had a breeding occur as late as the 14th day (in both those instances, the bitches involved conceived litters of 9 puppies each with only one mating).
Two days after the final procedure, (day 12 and Day 13) Colleen entered what I consider her "hot to trot stage". She became increasingly interested in Dollar and stood outside his crate on several occasions with her butt in his face, her tail flagging. She was definitely interested in securing a "serious" relationship. Dollar too became increasingly upset with not being allowed to breed. When Colleen was crated during his house time he too spent a great deal of time standing outside her crate whining. Their interest was at a peak and these are the signs I look for when breeding naturally. In this case I think the dogs were closer to target than we were.
As promised I will give you a cost comparison of this procedure. The amount of the stud fee is not included in these figures as that is a given cost regardless of how the breeding was accomplished. Also the cost of a Brucellosis test (10.00), a thyroid test ($20.00) and the vaginal cytology are all expenses related to breeding, regardless of what method of breeding is chosen.
The ultra sound cost ($40.00) is also a procedure I choose to do on each of my bitches as a routine practice after breeding.
The cost of shipping Colleen to Boston would have been more than $400.00 round trip. As related in Part I, the anguish of shipping her during the winter months was a risk I didn't want to take at the time, the cost of shipping was never a consideration. The cost of the entire AI procedure is as follows: