I was inspired to write this story following the news that Greyhound Racing is to be banned in NSW.
Atrocities the greyhound sector systemically inflicted on innocent beautiful creatures strikes to the core of our humanity. I hope other States and the Racing Industry follow NSW’s lead that this misery ceases nationwide.
If ever there was black and white, night and day, on and off, then that is the complete contrast between how we treat our animals compared to some racing greyhound breeders and trainers. We’re poles apart; binary.
I hope this insight into our treatment of animals in our care injects something positive concerning dog breeding generally.
My first insight into the level of care and commitment it takes to be a dog breeder came through a work colleague some 18 years back. Betty and I worked closely for 10 years, from 1998 to 2008. Her as sales manager of an industry newspaper and me as editor.
Betty was the envy of many in showing circles with her Royal Show wins Australia wide.
But her prize winning achievements pale, in my view, compared to her passion and compassion as dog breeder.
No sleep weeks
A few times over that 10 year period Betty had a litter of newborns who were compromised. (In subsequent years I’ve learned first hand that this can happen to any breeder at any time.)
We would receive daily updates of the hourly feeding of five tiny babies. Betty and her sister would tag team the hourly feeding and toileting overnight, determined the tiny creatures would survive.
I recall one occasion, around day five of very little sleep, the daily update was not good. Despite best efforts, a pup had passed away overnight. Then each following day brought the same sad news until all pups were gone.
The impact this had was as much emotional as was physical. They were heartbroken. If I recall correctly Betty vowed to never breed again, such was the sadness.
Jump forward a few years
When Dave and I started breeding we soon learnt that caring for puppies is very much a partnership with mum. And mum herself needs special care and attention too.
Just over a year ago now we had a defining moment whereby exhaustion and sadness made me take stock. How much could I handle? Could I go through this again?
The incident was our lovely long hair black & tan girl Macey. She apparently went into labour and after a few hours was displaying all the signs of a troubled birthing. Namely, pacing about (not nesting) with her tail tucked under.
I took her for a Cesarean to Jeremy and while he was operating he asked if she was full term. A staff member records these dates and I confirmed she was definitely due. As the operation progressed Jeremy asked me again was I sure of the whelping date. He didn’t like the size of the pups he was now holding in the as-yet unopened uterus. I confirmed she was due according to the dates recored and furthermore she had shown all the signs of discomfort you would expect in a first stage labour that wasn’t progressing.
Jeremy took out one pup only and distressingly he was very prem. Pup had one little gasp at life and then life left him.
I was dumfounded and horrified in one. The date was wrong. And the labour I had interpreted as clearly under way and stalled (after 9 years of breeding) was not labour at all. Wrong records and me misreading something ailing our girl coincided that evening with dire outcome.
Jeremy stopped the cesarean and sutured Macey. He explained he had never done this before and had never even heard of this procedure, so the outcome of the remain puppies and Macey herself was unknown.
Jeremy estimated the pup he delivered was two weeks poem. In canine pregnancy, this matters a lot because the last two weeks is when puppy does the most growth.
He said if we Macey can hold the unborn pups another 2 weeks then there is a possibility things will be fine; but only a slim one.