Almost immediately after getting Fessie I knew that I wanted her to have puppies. Friends and family are already requesting her progeny. Considerable thought is being expended in the selection of her mate. But unfortunately, in the world of dogs, a tryst is less like “Strangers in the Night” and more like things that go bump in the night. Hey, where’s the love? I announced to my family that we must find a local dog with which Fessie could develop a friendship. Play dates and everything. The specter of serving her up during her heat period to a complete stranger didn’t appeal to anyone. So everybody is looking and so far nobody seems right for her. (If I’m like this about my dog, I can’t even imagine how I’m going to react about my beautiful daughters.)
The fellas all seem too small or too frenetic or they just don’t have the right markings. My daughter Hillary has come up with the most leads because she is a frequent visitor, along with her dog, Bella, to local dog parks in Runyun and Franklin Canyons as well as Brentwood. But even she is beginning to be discouraged. “It’s going to be so hard to find a match for Fessie’s terrific personality and impeccable conformation,” she said. She also had this advice, “You must get her out more often — she is a fine bitch!” The local search will continue, but just in case, we are making contingency plans.
My brother is also a veterinarian and he practices in Lynchburg, Virginia. During one of our long distance conversations he mentioned that he had just delivered a litter of French Bulldogs. He had felt particularly invested in this litter, as not only had he performed the caesarian that brought them into this world, but also he was the quasi-father of the litter, as he had artificially inseminated the dam. He raved about how nice the parents were and he suggested that should my efforts at matchmaking fail, I could always contact the breeder and arrange for a shipment of frozen, American Kennel Club DNA-certified semen to inseminate her with. I’m glad that the alternative exists but I still want her to have a special friend.
As the conversation with Sam continued, I asked him whether the c-section had been done out of necessity or whether it had been an elective procedure. I know that if Fessie needed to have any operation, I would be an emotional wreck and that I would have to have one of my associates do the procedure. He told me that it had been elective and that this particular breeder never allowed her pregnant bitches to deliver naturally for fear of complications when narrow pelvic females deliver puppies with big heads and shoulders. He lamented this trend and said, “If this continues, these dogs will be just like the turkeys.” I didn’t understand what he meant, so he quickly explained, “All of the commercially raised turkeys in this country are bred artificially.” In the quest to engineer the ideal bird, the turkeys had developed breast muscles so large that the act of copulating became a physical impossibility.
But Fessie in no turkey! This little butterball is presently involved in a physical-conditioning program in order to facilitate an easier delivery. By walking the hills of Bel Air, we are strengthening those abdominal muscles that are so important for forceful contractions. The exercise also improves her breathing, and even though dogs use a Lamaze technique naturally when whelping, a little extra help never hurts.
UPDATE: The Saga of Fessie, Episode 4.