“Owning a stud dog is such fun!” said no experienced dog person ever Sure, it may sound flattering that people want to breed to your dog, but the luster can quickly tarnish. I’m not referring to failed breedings or people blaming the sire for the faults. I’m referring to the process of getting the breeding accomplished.
While I absolutely support doing live cover, a recent experience has forced me to reevaluate just how accommodating I will be in the future. A breeder from western Canada wanted to send her bitch to southwest Florida to be mated with a dog we are showing. This is not our dog, and we derive no stud fee. She was adamant about doing a natural, and the owner of the stud dog supported her decision. Against my recommendation, the owner sent her bitch via cargo.
My week began with a six hour round trip to Tampa during rush hour. My cost: $50/hour + mileage = $384. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at air cargo to find a 26”/75 lb bitch packed into a 400 vari-kennel with no water bowls. Did I mention it was 90 degrees? How on earth did Alaska Airlines allow this? One thing was clear… this bitch was not returning in this crate. The owner did not believe me, and said her husband would be willing to talk with air cargo when I return her. “Really? REALLY!?!” Then, the owner told me to “Just go buy those dishes that she will need to have in her crate for the return flight” and “Can you get her Merrick fish formula food?” Um, NO! At my suggestion, the owner had a 700 crate shipped to us so that we would be guaranteed the safe return of her bitch (sidebar: she also included those little dishes and some of her special food).
The day she was shipped her progesterone was 1.2. After she had spent four days at my house, we were able to attempt a breeding, unsuccessfully I might add. We tried the next day, unsuccessfully. Do you know how frustrating it is to have two dogs that clearly want to have sex, but can’t get the job done? On the third day we were forced to take her for a “side by side AI”. Her progesterone showed the timing to be perfect – thankfully! My cost $272.
The return flight was booked on United out of our local airport. However, I discovered that United no longer accepts 700 crates, so I went on a wild goose chase for a 500. Two hours and four pet supply stores later, I found one. My cost: $163. The return flight was scheduled for 7:00 AM. Things went from bad to worse when my 4:00 AM alarm failed, and I missed the flight. Thankfully I was able to rebook her later that same day.
Upon arriving at air cargo, the staff confirmed what I already knew… the 400 crate was not going to fly. I assembled the 500 as the cargo staff asked for documentation – the same documentation that had been emailed to United five days prior in order to have the flight confirmed. I did not have hard copies. After begging to email them the digital files, I was getting somewhere. Then they needed a photo to tape to the crate. Thank God for cell phone cameras. I emailed that as well. Did I mention how unfriendly these people are at air cargo? After begging and pleading I finally got this bitch in the air back to her owner. My cost: $630 (sparing time and mileage for the alarm faux pas).
Upon my return home, I promptly amended my stud dog and handling contracts to say: No bitch will be accepted for live cover that is not accompanied by her owner or agent. It may sound unreasonable, but some experiences sour us, and this was one of those. What could have easily beed accomplished with the use of frozen semen turned into one week of things gone wrong. So, the next time you really want to do that live breeding, please think about the what it means for everyone involved.
P.S. It has now been two weeks, and I’m still waiting to be reimbursed for my expenses.