Breeder's Notebook: Oops!

Two dogs conceive an unplanned litter. What’s a breeder to do?


Janet Warner thought her English Springer Spaniel bitch, Rory, was out of season. That is, until she left her for just an instant with her male and returned to find them tied. “I tried everything to untie them,” she recalls, “and let me tell you, cold water doesn’t help!” Warner didn’t want unplanned puppies, but of course, two months later, Rory delivered a healthy litter of four.

Warner isn’t the only breeder whose dogs threw a wrench in the breeding plans. Despite their best efforts, some breeders experience unplanned pregnancies.

The “I thought she was out of season” syndrome is apparently one of the most common excuses for unplanned pregnancies. Like Warner, Marcella Gemmell was also mistaken. Her Dachshund, Jane, had been seemingly out of season for a week when Gemmell looked outside and saw her tied. Because Gemmell was sure it was too late, she didn’t worry, and in fact didn’t think much about it. Two months later, while on a camping trip, Gemmell picked up Jane and remarked on how fat she was, and that if she didn’t know better she’d think she was pregnant. When Gemmell put Jane to bed, the Dachshund seemed restless and kept making noises. Again Gemmell joked that it was almost like she was in labor. The joke was on her: “When I looked inside her crate I saw a little red puppy,” she says. “I was in total disbelief. Jane had never shown any signs of pregnancy.”

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