I've heard people ask, frequently, why purebred dogs cost so much. The short answer is that raising quality dogs is expensive. The long answer is that I'm still learning, after 15 years of raising dogs, that there is no end to the reasons and ways that you can spend money on dogs. And I'm not talking about spoiling them with treats and designer collars.
It's been a very long month here, and we are seriously questioning why we do what we do. I'm thinking that I've run into the worst streak of bad luck known to dog breeders, but then I'm reminded that any time you deal with live animals you'll have all sorts of unknowns and unlucky things happen. Live things, by nature's own law, go downhill from the moment of birth until finally they are no longer living things. Harsh? Very. And anyone who has loved an animal and lost it due to their too-short number of years they're allotted to live, knows this.
My favorite dear dog developed back problems, which are very common in the French bulldog breed. For 2.5 years she ran and jumped and played and that back never gave her an issue, and then one morning she couldn't get out of her crate or walk down the steps to go outside. X-rays and readings by specialists and many pain meds and laser treatments have done wonders for her, but not before taking a toll on her that should never have been asked. She was pregnant at the time, and we lost her litter due to the treatments necessary to restore her health.
Nature doesn't recognize that people play favorites, nor does Nature care much that some things just should never happen.
One of our girls had a c-section today and had 2 incredibly fat babies, but unfortunately one of those didn't make it. I have learned the hard way that scheduling a c-section for the dogs is the far better route to go than letting them try to birth naturally. I've let each girl try naturally once, because I believe in giving a fair chance to let Nature take care of things the way they are supposed to be done, but sometimes those things are never meant to be. Losing babies, or mamas, is not ever what I want to have happen. If a vet can't save a baby, there's no way that I could have. And yet, sometimes, Nature just steps in and does whatever it pleases regardless of how many safeguards you take or how much you care.
While that girl was recovering today, another of our dogs, due with a litter at Christmas, developed a discharge that I'd never seen before. An emergency run to the vet now has us hoping that she has pyometra, which not something you ever want to wish on a living thing. It's a uterine infection that can be fatal at worst, require an emergency spay that would abort the litter, or perhaps only just cause her fever, discharge and discomfort. We're desperately hoping that perhaps this is the answer, because the other option is so horrifying that I won't even entertain the thought of it. It'll be hard not to think of it, though, as we have the dog tested and re-tested over the course of 2 months to be sure that she not only does not have it, but doesn't develop it from exposure to a possible carrier.
Note: pyometra is a real thing that any female dog can develop after a heat cycle. This is why vets are adamant that if you're not raising puppies to get your dog spayed. Please do the responsible thing and keep your girls healthy.
We are learning. Every year we learn new things. Some are at a high cost, and some, thankfully, are not. We are learning that quarantine may not even tell us if a dog is unhealthy before being introduced into our home. We are learning that the best food, the best care, the best vets and a whole lot of love sometimes just isn't enough. We are learning that spending thousands of dollars to ensure the dogs are healthy doesn't mean we'll always end up with healthy babies. We are learning that genetic testing, while of utmost importance, simply tells us if our dogs are healthy or not and is no indicator of what future babies will carry. Most of all, we are learning that no matter what we plan, Nature's plans trump ours.
It's been a very long month here, and we've been on a steep learning curve. Again. We are questioning why we raise dogs, because raising dogs is so incredibly expensive and heart wrenching and hard. Changes may be coming, and we may pursue another venue that isn't as painful to watch fail on occasion. Or we may say, once again, that when you deal with living things there will be difficulties and heartbreak, because living things, by Nature, are destined to die. And that's harsh.
But one thing I do know is that no matter how much the medical expenses add up, or how many hard lessons we've had to learn, there is no therapy in the world like a newborn puppy. And that is why I do what I do. Seeing the joy that my babies bring to their new owners is some of the most rewarding pay I'll ever receive. You can buy happiness. It comes with 4 legs and a tongue that never stops licking.