This is a posting from August of 2009 on our www.rockdogdesigns.com blog, but it belongs here as well.
I’m about 2 months deferred in posting this, but it’s not for lack of wanting to….it’s complicated, we’ll leave it at that and you will have to forgive me.
Back in December my friend H decided to breed her greyhound, Lyric.
Enough people were clamoring for a puppy from her, it was time to go ahead and build some puppies. Nothing about this litter was natural. Frozen semen arrived from one of H’s long deceased champion dogs, Merlin, collected in 1997. Hmmmm, liquid nitrogen-frozen-Merlin-bits. Interesting. I knew Merlin, he was a nice dog with a quirky sense of humor. Funny, funny (ha-ha-funny) dog. But dead since, what? 2002? Something like that. Slightly weird to see him swimming around on the microscope. You know, just a little.
Lyric was not impressed.
On the chosen day, I defrosted Merlin, mixed him up and handed a syringe full of him to the surgeon, who, through a couple of incisions, put puppies in the oven. Wait wait wait. Ultrasound (that’s what we do at work everyday, so you know, Lyric got a substantial discount )
(note the "modesty hand" at the bottom of the picture, we respected her decency if not her privacy)
5 puppies, count ‘em……5. It seems there were more people who wanted a pup than pups that were cookin’. Oh well, we were lucky that a maiden bitch with a surgical implant of 11year old semen conceived at all. And I wasn’t really one of those people. Or so I told myself. NO PUPPY FOR YOU, LISA. No no no no no. And so I watched them grow, every day a very disconcerted Lyric getting larger and larger.
Near the end, we were ultrasounding her pretty much daily, up to the day we took them out of the oven. C-Section was scheduled, because knowing H’s luck, natural whelping would be a disaster and this was a miracle litter to begin with. H was a mess, the entire hospital was in a frenzy waiting for the first pup. Dr. Starlin Gary Brown pulled out the first, huge, stripy-brown pup and dropped him with full ceremony into my hands. He was dubbed Starlin, and was immediately, and oddly enough, permanently my favorite. He was the same color as Andretti, with silvery grey stripes.
He was immediately hustled into H’s hands and spent the next hour being revived (the anesthesia really depressed all of the pups). 4 more followed, one more boy and 3 girls. My job was taking them from the surgeon, doing an initial vital signs check, clearing the amniotic sacs, suctioning goo out of their little noses and throats and clamping umbilical cords. All of this in about 2 minutes per pup before they were handed off to designated ‘puppy revivers’. Everyone got their special pup, and all the pups revived well, although Starlin took the longest, but everything turned out well in the end. It should be noted that all the photos I took of him were labeled "Lisa's favorite", from 2 hours old. He was beautiful and very special.
H took everyone home, and I took the week off to help take care of Lyric and the litter with a troop of other volunteers (H has a veterinary clinic to keep running, she couldn’t stay home with everyone, no matter how much she wanted to)
The puppies grew, and people chose which ones they wanted.
My favorite boy was chosen as 'pick of the litter' by H’s friend G who lives in Los Angeles and named Sterling.
H chose the dark brindle girl and named her Echo. Echo loves everyone.
At 8 weeks the pups all left for their new homes: 2 went to Los Angeles, 1 went to Virginia, 1 went to Portland, Oregon and 1 stayed behind with H.
And then all was quiet.
Fast forward to May/June. Long story short, minus the details, Sterling needed to come back for a bit of training. I offered to go pick him up, drive him home and work with him for H (she had her hands full with her grown up dogs and Echo) H was very happy with that offer. I felt a little heart-tug because he was my original pick, my favorite, and I was going to get to work with him for a while. H was openly grateful, secretly I was THRILLED.
It was a long 4 hour ride out and back to Harris Ranch (the halfway point to meet G to pick up Sterling). He mostly slept all the way back. I spent a fair amount of this drive trying to convince myself not to fall in love with him.
That was a waste of effort. It was just inevitable. I was a goner 5 minutes into the drive, and irreversibly sold by the time I reached H at the hospital.
For 3 weeks he stayed with us. He went everywhere with me, we did a lot of daily training and behavior molding, we took trips to the city and up to Napa.
We did a lot of playing and just hanging out.
I fell completely in love….with someone else’s boyfriend. To be fair, he wasn’t my dog, and after 3 weeks G wanted him back, of course. She really did love him, and she wanted him back. I was heartbroken, absolutely crushed. Art watched me drag myself around in the days preceeding having to drive him back down to Harris Ranch. I moped and generally spiraled into a muck of depression. H went with me to give him back. Handing him over to G on that 110 degree Monday was heart-wrenching. I held it together while I demonstrated what he had learned and explained what he would need for G to maintain what we had accomplished and what would need to be done to move forward. He recognized her and willingly got into her car when it was time to go. I was devastated to have him gone. H was very sad. I had promised her I wouldn’t get attached. I lied. I loved him. Sadness was everywhere.
G called on Tuesday to let me know he was doing fabulously well and to thank me for giving her back a different dog. She was thrilled with changes in him, she said he was 180 degrees a different dog and she was very grateful. I was very happy that everything he and I did was holding, but on the inside I was sobbing. I filled her in on all the places we had gone and told her what his favorite games were. We talked about the handling classes (for showing) that we had gone to and the techniques that worked best with him. I wished her luck with him and told her to give him lots of hugs and kisses, and that we missed him a lot, and if he ever EVER needed a home, ours would be open to him. She thanked me again. I hung up and cried. And cried and cried.
On Wednesday G called to tell me that he was still behaving absolutely perfect, and that she wanted to give him to me. After our conversation Tuesday, wherein I gave her detailed instructions on how to maintain the level of attention and obedience that she took him home with, it seems she reflected on it, and came to the very sad conclusion that with her schedule and other dogs she wouldn’t be able to provide him with what he needs to be an awesome happy dog. She thought that from what she saw and what H told her, I’m the person he needs to be with. She said she could see how much I loved him, and that he deserves me. She said a lot of other very very nice things, and gave me the “best dog to come out of my kennels in a hell of a long time” (Lyric, his mother, was her breeding, given to H as a gift) I picked him up the next Sunday. She was crying. So was I. My boy came home.
P stands for Puppy…..we have a new one (albeit a HUGE one…..he’s 8 months old now and almost 80lb). I’m in love. Art is in love.
Dretti and he are BFFs.
Q has officially made him his bitch.
D-Square…..moderately amused at best. Can’t win em all I guess.
The only negative is the decrease in prime lounging real estate. Mostly, they all just sort of blend well together. And this is good.