Merry Christmas, Jessie!! - Time passes
|Merry Christmas, Jessie!!|
Time passes. I had planned to take a Pandemonium litter from Jess (including, of course, the famous Ping Pong). She turned out to be vWD Affected (von Willebrand's Disease is essentially haemophilia, a blood-clotting disorder, although Dobermanns do not suffer as badly as humans and some other dog breeds), and so as a result I had more or less decided not to breed her. (I was also increasly fed up and disillusioned with dog world politics, which frequently threaten to ruin the sport.)
Then Sharlene was diagnosed with the secondary cancer that would eventually kill her in November 2005. Jess was probably the best dog she and Barb had ever bred, and for Sharlene's sake we decided to go ahead with a litter, so that she could leave us knowing that the bloodline would carry on.
The first attempt, early in 2005, with Ch Trustdore Oliver (who lived in Jhb with JC Pieters), was by AI and was unsuccessful. On her next season in October, when Sharl had about six weeks left to live, we fought to get my roly-poly hooligan tranquilised, drove from vet to vet with a supposedly sedated dog hanging out of the window trawling for business, and eventually shoved her into a crate and bunged her on an aeroplane to Johannesburg, where she was successfully mated to Oliver.
She barked all the way there, and all the way back, and arrived in Cape Town three days later, exhausted, a seasoned flyer, and very proud of herself.
But the 30-day scan was negative. The mating had failed again. "I'm not going to try again," I said to JC. "It could be a fertility problem, who knows? She's getting on; I'm just going to spay her instead." We were both disappointed and disconsolate, but agreed that there was nothing further to be done.
Sharlene was in a coma most of the time by now, but we did manage to have one conversation about it. "Never mind," she said, "can't be helped, just spay her after her due date to be quite sure." She didn't seem to be upset at all.
On the 29th of November 2005, Sharlene finally lost her battle and slipped away. It was a Tuesday; the group of us who had been glued together around her for the last eighteen months collected at the house, and stayed until late that night, braaing, talking, drinking, crying. We had spent so many hours in chemo wards, at the house, taking turns to babysit, listening, talking, just trying to be there. I used to call us the Chemo Ward Club. Sue, Barbara's sister-in-law, hit the nail on the head when she looked at me and said: "What are we going to do now? Play scrabble?"
The funeral, although beautiful, was bigger and less personal, as funerals are. It was held on the Friday following Sharlene's death - the 2nd of December.
The next day I took Jessie to the vet. Something just wasn't quite right. Natalie rummaged around a bit and then straightened up beaming. "Well," she said, "unless she's got poos with skulls in there, she's pregnant!"
It felt like a gift from Sharlene. I phoned Barbara, who was still too stunned to take it in, and sms'ed JC, who phoned me back a few moments later in tears of joy. We were ecstatic.
And after all my worries about her health and her vWD, Jessie produced four perfect puppies on 13th December 2005, doing all the work herself except for Simon, my lovely podgy brown boy, who needed a helping finger to get one of his legs delivered. She didn't bleed at all and didn't even need an oxytocin shot. And she was an excellent mother.
Sandy (Sharlene's sister) and I discussed names with Barbara. She agreed. The paperwork to get all the dogs transferred around was horrendous, and the Sharbara letter sequence had only gotten up to 'P', I think, but we managed to register them as the Sharbara 'S' litter. They even have a t-shirt.
Sabre (Sammy) went to a friend of mine who had never had a Dobe before. He's been a difficult dog, but she's hooked.
Shady Lady went to Sharlene's sister Sandy, who worked really hard with her. She's Ch Sharbara Shady Lady now, and has had a good litter of pups. Sandy also has a rescue male from one of the big PE breeders, who asked her to take him after the first home proved a problem. RBISS BPISS Ch Donnehaus Xaran APT EX is one of the best working and show dogs we've seen in this country for a while, and the first Dobe in a long time to be rated Excellent in the very tough Swedish Military Working Aptitude Test. We're busy trying to mate him to Lickety - Sharbara Spitfire. The first mating failed (shades of Mom?) but we'll try again next time.
Simon Says is a bit of a dud - slightly dysplastic hips, a cryptorchid testicle, various stomach gripes. He stayed with me, as did (Lickety) Spitfire, easily the pick of the litter. And Simon and Lickety gave me a wonderful little surprise who was born on the 6th of January 2007 (the 12th Day of Christmas) and who was promptly christened Partridge, later shortened to Puttle.
Although his life was cut short at 5 earlier this year by rapid-onset Wobblers, Puttle was a joy, and the light of Granny Jess's life. He teased her, played with her, adored her, deferred to her, and generally kept her young.
Next: Christmas 2012
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