A while ago, I met a man, his son and their two dogs. I was making a fuss over the dogs, and the boy said “she’s going to have babies”. The dad confirmed it. She was purebred, he said, as was the father of the pups. So I figured daddy dog wasn’t their other dog, an unneutered male, but not the same breed. Both dogs were about 2 years old, and after the puppies were born, the man said, they’d have both dogs neutered. But they wanted her to have one litter of puppies – for her sake, for the kids to see.
“A Good Dog”
I didn’t say much about it, other than asking if they were breeders. “Oh no, just she’s a good dog and we know people who’d like one of her pups.” I agreed that neutering them was certainly a good idea. They seemed like nice people. They had got the female from a breeder they know who enters his dogs in field trials (she was a hound). This guy wants to hunt with her. She clearly was a beloved pet, both dogs were, and they knew and appreciated her lineage even though they weren’t into dog showing or competitions. Probably those pups will get good homes.
But what I wanted to say – scream even – was why? why? why? You’re not breeding her at the request of her breeder, so that her pups can add to the prestige of his kennel. You’re not, fortunately, breeding her so you can make some extra money off selling them on Kijiji. You are doing it so she has the experience of having puppies and so your children can watch the miracle of birth. Both are nice, family-oriented ideals – but why?
Why, at age 2 with no breeding plans in his future, was the male not already neutered? Why do people think it’s necessary for a dog’s fulfillment to have puppies? And why is deliberately letting a dog (or cat) get pregnant the only way to let your children witness the giving of birth?
A dog adjusts very quickly to being neutered. At least, it’s quick if he’s young. When older, when used to being “Mr. Testosterone”, the adjustment can be harder. Still, the adjustment he has to undergo is preferable to the fights he’ll get in, the roaming he’ll feel compelled to do, and the unwanted puppies he’ll create given half a chance if he is not neutered. A female dog does not feel she’s missing out on something if she never has puppies. There is no health benefit for her in having puppies.
If it’s important to you that your children witness birth and the first weeks of animals’ lives, there are other ways of doing it. There are always irresponsible people who let their dogs or cats get pregnant, then don’t want to be bothered with them. Those pregnant animals end up in shelters or wandering the streets until they get picked up by the dog catcher. In every city and town, there are animal pounds and rescue groups looking for foster homes for pregnant dogs and cats.
You can take the mother in and look after her, experience the miracle of birth and help her look after the newborns. When they are old enough to leave their mother, the babies and mother will go into the foster/adoption system. You can have the joy of nurturing a mother and her babies and you have a support system finding homes for them. You’ve got what you wanted for yourself or your kids. You’ve helped animals in need, and you haven’t contributed to the problem of too many pets and not enough homes.
The miracle of birth can be shared by anyone willing to foster a pregnant animal for a couple of months. Unfortunately, the supply of unwanted and/or unneutered pets so far seems inexhaustible, so finding a needy animal to foster isn’t likely to be a problem.
Contact a local shelter
If you can foster a pregnant dog or cat, contact All Breed Canine Rescue, St. Thomas Animal Control, Animal Aide or Pets/Friends 4 Life. The miracle of birth will be just as miraculous and moving.
The dog and her 12 puppies in the top photo is Kylie. An elderly feral dog, she was rescued by Stray Rescue of St. Louis in Missouri while pregnant for the umpteenth time. The middle photo is of Penny who, after weaning her own puppies, nursed a litter of abandoned pups. She, and they, were at Save a Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue in East Sparta, Ohio. The third photo speaks for itself. What happens to the cats and dogs when there’s no room at the pound?
First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 14, 2010