I guess life with dogs is predicted to have ups and downs. There was a time when I let the setbacks affect me really hard. Well, honestly there are still those times. Just not as often. And just not as hard. I don’t know whether my heart hardened or I just learned to live with those kind of feelings. Disappointment, sorrow, broken dreams. Maybe the answer is both. And yet, I still cannot help myself building those dreams again. Over and over. I just can’t let the setbacks stop me. I’m too devoted to hopes and dreams. Still.
Dora was supposed to have pups. She grew just fine until a few weeks ago. I could really see her waist widen, her udders grow. I waited a lot for this week, the seventh week, when I would finally start to see a new shape of the belly. The week passed just fine! Only… The belly didn´t grow.
I had no plans for an ultrasound. The visit at the veterinary wouldn’t change the number of puppies anyway. But now, entering the eight week with no obvious signs of pregnancy, I felt like I had to make a decision. A small, hidden, litter could mean trouble when it’s time for giving birth. I needed to be prepared. So we got a time at the vet today.
I had this really strong sense of Dora being pregnant. I don’t know why. I just felt it deep within me. Her chubby way of moving and her tense udders, along with her very worthy and calm manner, must have tricked me. Because there was nothing. Nothing in her belly.
The x-ray showed just a normal body of a strong female. Veterinary’s advice was to also make an ultrasound. So we did. Dora’s ovaries were so small, we could hardly distinguish them. Small, thin threads leaping along her back. As soon as the vet pressed her tool towards the belly to see them better, they would conceal themselves among the other contents of Dora’s body. There were a few small signs of something else – two bubbles sized 0,6 cm. Far too small to be puppies in the eighth week.
Somewhere along the way, nature changed its mind.
I got the question a few weeks ago. Why don´t I breed my own females? Well, the answer is not that simple. I tried to build my kennel for several years. But there was always something. As soon as I considered a female for breeding, adversity would appear. Mostly eye diseases, five times actually, then a suspected deformation of skeleton and now, the last one, a heart murmur.
At Vildmarksracet the specialised sleddog veterinary Sergio Maffi could hear something, a mild anomalous murmur, from Nitros heart. She was approved for running but he recommended me to follow up the murmur with an ultrasound at an experienced veterinary station. And today was the day to do this.
This left me with a feeling of unease for a very long time. Nitro is a very valuable dog for me, both as my daily input of joy and energy, as well as hard working team member in harness. What can I say.. DynaMitro. Nitro-glycerine. She is not that kind of dog you can leave at home, in the kennel, during training..
The consequences of a heart disease in this kind of dog – well, I’d rather not think about it. There is nothing I want more than to spend my life with my dogs! But not at all costs. I know the passion of each and every dog of mine. Folke needs attention. Turbo needs to be creative. Those kind of fundamental passions that you know your dog needs in order to be happy. And Nitro? Nitro needs to run.
Besides the worries for the results, I was also concerned about the fact that Nitro often has a hard time being still. Well, a few seconds is sometimes possible. But for this kind of examination, she would need to lay still for almost half an hour. But this ticking bomb of a dog – suddenly she seemed to understand what to do. Maybe she felt the gravity of the situation, my concern and my focus on the black and white screen in front of us. Because except from hiding her small face in my bosom a few times, she was really well behaved.
The examination went on in silence. It felt like my heart beat as fast and hard as I could hear Nitros heartbeats from the monitor. My precious Nitro. We switched sides and the examination continued. The veterinary printed a number of screens from the monitor, measured, listened and counted. I wanted to ask her about everything, wanted her to invite me into the advanced world of heart ultrasound. But I kept my mouth shut, afraid that my questions would interfere with the examination and affect the results. Nitro’s life might depend on them..
Regardless of the amount of time for the examination, I was surprised when the veterinary suddenly broke the silence. “There is no murmur. As you can see here on the screen, there is a small turbulence on the right side, making the sound of a murmur. But this will not affect her as a sleddog.”.
My instant reaction was with humorous relief. Of course. Of course Nitro’s heart would have turbulence. Everything with Nitro is turbulence. I couldn’t help but give up a laughter. Why was I even surprised.. This girl, whos paws spend more time in the air than on the earth. This girl, who could never control her enthusiasm about just everything that is happening around her.
Of course there would be turbulence.
In the darkest times of setbacks, I asked myself if I would ever be able to have hope again. But those darkest times actually taught me just that. There will always be setbacks. So I might just enjoy every step forward that we get to take. Every small step of ease. So we took this huge step back today. There will be no Yabasta pups this year. Either. But I get to keep Nitro. She will stay here, like the daily source of pure energy that she always is. And I’m truly grateful for that.