Brood Bitches: An
Interview with Donna Dale
Originally printed in the
Summer, 1994 issue of the Skye Terrier Club of America Bulletin
1) How do you train
your brood bitch specifically with regard to crate training, comfort
with travel and strange situations? Do you do progesterone testing?
All our bitches are
crate trained as youngsters so that, for us, is a moot point. We do,
however, try to avoid shipping a bitch by air for breeding,
preferring to drive her to her affair. Recently, we have done
progesterone testing when using frozen semen. Otherwise, we prefer
to rely on the "good nose" of the stud.
2) How do you
evaluate and ultimately select a stud dog?
Basically we look for a
dog which exhibits and produces the qualities we either wish to
obtain, strengthen, or maintain what we have. We do not believe in
change for the sake of change and we are always careful to be aware
of traits that we may obtain that we are not keen to bring into the
3) What supplies do
you keep on hand to prepare for whelping? What do you use for a
whelping box and how do you regulate whelping box temperature?
We keep a "puppy
box" which goes along with the whelping pen. It is always
stocked so that there is not panic as to where something is when it
is needed. It is just a collection of things we have found to aid in
parturition. It contains a couple pairs of good scissors, cotton
swabs, cotton balls, iodine, oxytocin, syringes and needles of
different sizes, KY jelly, Esbalic and a french catheter. For many
years we used a 4 x 4 whelping pen made for us by an old friend
whose hobby away from the FDIC was cabinet making. It was a
wonderful box but after 25 years it became just too heavy to hoist
around and we now use a new fangled plastic commercial model. Not
nearly as beautiful, but easier on the back. We have for years
elevated our whelping box during the actual event so that we could
stand. We never allowed a bitch to whelp without out being present.
For temperature regulation we normally use artificial lamb fleece on
the floor and a radiant heat lamp. In this way the dam can remain
comfortable and yet the whelps do not get chilled. We tried a
heating pad but were not enamored with them and we do not like
electrical cords in the box that might become chewed.
4) What timetable do
you use in whelping? How long do you wait before seeking assistance
from your vet?
First of all, you had
best be on the very best terms with your vet and make sure that they
are aware of the coming event. In this day many, if not most vets
will refer you to some emergency clinic should the bitch decide to
deliver at any time not during regular business hours. This seems
particularly true in metropolitan areas. So make arrangements just
in case you might need your own trusted vet. We've used the same
practice for 25 years and have had no problems. This particular
practice likes breeders and feels that breeders do know things about
their own breed that these vets may not know. They will listen and
not just dismiss you out of hand. Once a bitch begins active labor,
with contractions every few minutes, we would expect the first puppy
within an hour to an hour and a half. After that first puppy, if
contractions do not resume in two hours, call your vet. Do not
hesitate to section the bitch. This does not means that should you
breed her again that she will need a section. Uterine inertia is a
5) How do you
recognize signs of trouble in your newborns?
Puppies that are cold,
lethargic, not nursing, just not thrifty are the most common signs
of trouble. Naturally, if a whelp is not breathing, that would be a
sign of distress. If the bitch pushes a whelp away and does not
stimulate it and/or keep it warm, there is little you will be able
to do to save it.
6) Have you had a
bitch who has exhibited non-maternal behavior (for example, after
C-section) early on and, if so, what suggestions can you offer for
dealing with this?
We have never had a
section done on a bitch which has not progressed through labor and
had two or three puppies naturally. We have had young bitches on
their first litters when presented with that first puppy seem to
ask, "What's that?" or "I'm supposed to do
what?" However, they have all settled down to their maternal
duties with no problems. We all have found that some bitches seem
more attuned to motherhood than others. While they all do the
necessary work, some will take on any and all puppies available. We
have one bitch that we have to make sure doesn't get too near the
box as she will adopt any litter as her own. Makes no difference to
her that there is no milk in the faucets.
7) How do you select
a puppy buyer and what information/items do you send puppies home
A candidate for
ownership of one of our Skyes must first feel completely comfortable
with our contract. We prefer to have known the prospective owner
prior to the sale. This can come from visits to our home or perhaps
even at a show. We have actually sold very few Skyes, if any, into
homes that have not previously owned Skyes or other dogs. We, of
course, send health records, a pedigree, and a supply of food the
puppy is accustomed to eating. Therefore, if the pup's diet is to be
changed, it can be done gradually by adding a little of the new food
each day to the accustomed diet. We send warnings about the use of
Ivermectin in any form and we are considering adding it prohibition
to our sales contract for future sales.
8) What are your
favorite books on breeding and genetics?
Fanny Hill, Sex and the
Single Bitch, as well as the Victoria's Secrets and Fredericks of
Hollywood catalogs are among the top vote getters. Ooops! That is
for breeding. Muriel Lee's book, The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies
is probably the most complete we have seen.
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