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Confessions of An Ignorant Breeder
byJoya Bocock

So you think it would be fun to have puppies?

Our boxer, Lupe, was just turning two when my husband brought up the idea of breeding her. I was just beginning to learn a thing or two about the ins and outs of raising dogs, having just gotten on the internet a few months before, and at first I resisted the idea, but then I gave in thinking maybe this is something I might be good at (being a breeder) and could maybe go into. Ignorance is bliss, but it doesn't last. So, with my limited knowledge, and feeling like I knew it all, I started preparing Lupe for her mating. I got all her shots up to date (ah…the things I have learned since then), we found her a good-looking mate and voila! She was ready!

I knew what days were right for breeding, being all-knowing, you understand, about breeding.

And sure enough, within the month, we knew she was expecting. Her pregnancy went well, and the due date arrived, and although it was a little nerve wracking, she delivered just fine. Breeding was a cinch! Within a week of having her puppies, Lupe started having a discharge. She got very skinny and I was quite worried about her, but got her back into shape with the old Satin Balls recipe. Her puppies seemed to be thriving. The vet said the infection was venereal passed on by the male.

Mistake number two…. number one was breeding her in the first place...

We could not do anything about the disease because she was still nursing so would have to wait to treat it. Three and a half weeks went by and I started one feeding of gruel a day. One morning I awoke to a crying pup with a distended stomach. I called the vet and he came and gave the pup an enema, saying it was too soon to feed them. I forget what else he did, but he assured me all would be well and left. Three hours later I had a dead puppy. I insisted on an autopsy, because with my "vast" textbook knowledge, I thought it might be herpes, in which case all the pups would probably die. The vet did the autopsy, found red spots on the kidneys and agreed that it probably was herpes. Thank God he was wrong…if it had been, the whole litter would have died, but the rest of the puppies thrived. Lupe had to have twice-daily injections for two weeks.

Now, I knew it was very important to find good homes for the puppies…

I was in love with them, but tired of all the poop and the feedings and they were almost eight weeks old, so time to leave the nest. I wanted to keep the male, Spike, but he was huge and I did not have room for another big dog. He was such a cutie. But I digress. The vet called and said he had a friend who wanted three puppies. The man came over and I inquired as to why he wanted three puppies. He said one was for his mother, and one for his sister and Spike would be his. I warned him about breeding siblings and he assured me that this was not going to happen. He came and visited several times and I went to his house once and checked it out. All seemed to be on the up and up.

I had done my duty or so I thought...

This was close to Christmas. Well, he took the three puppies and about two weeks later I saw an ad in the paper with this man's phone number. The ad said that he had all sorts of breeds of puppies (including boxers) for gifts for Christmas. This was my first experience with a puppy broker. He now has a thriving business. I wanted to buy the dogs back, but he was asking twice what I had sold them for and I just couldn't do it. I was heartbroken and guilty about what I had done.

Who knows what happened to those puppies...

Daisy, the littlest female, stayed with me till she was five months old. I had to give her to my husband's best friend because he had given me Lupe and the deal was he would get a puppy in return. He had her grandfather. He promised me that when she came into heat the first time, she would come stay with me so she would not get pregnant (people here do not spay their dogs, unfortunately) . Well, the other day, he sheepishly told me that Daisy, who just turned one in September, had had six puppies, two died, and that he did not realize she was pregnant. One of the puppies is a boxer (the grandfather's) and the others are who knows what.

So Daisy is getting supreme care, isn't she?

See-- the thing about breeding is that you are responsible for all these little lives. Just because they leave your home and go on to other homes does not absolve you of that. I will never do this again because I can never be sure that one of my pups is not abandoned, mistreated or worse. I did not even mention the other part of breeding---being sure that you are passing on a healthy line---because I didn't know about that in those days. I have no idea if they have some defects that will show up later on down the line. And that, too, is irresponsible. So if you want another puppy, just like "Fido", get it from a responsible breeder and neuter/spay it….leave the breeding to the experts.

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