Luna & I left Long Island Thursday morning for the two hour drive to the Smid’s home in northern New Jersey, drafting behind the masses making their morning commute into Manhattan. Because the Throgs Neck Bridge was partially closed along a key northern route, I opted to take the most southern west approach along the Island, crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, always a treat and reminder of my childhood. The Verrazano is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn and was the largest suspension bridge in the world until 1981. It is the starting point of the New York City Marathon and is the geographic entrance into New York Harbor. And a Long Islander’s preferred route to most of New Jersey and all points south, and how we always drove to Florida.
We made it to Lois & Tony’s just past noon and given Tony was away in Canada, Lois asked Sunny’s breeder, Florence Duggan, to join us. I took Luna into the fenced back yard, letting her off leash and she busied herself checking out the dozens of scents, marking each and every one along the way. Lois and Florence brought Sunny out a few minutes later and it seemed like the only thing these two Vizslas were interested in was in following and then marking each others scents in the yard, not the business of the day. But that ‘pawplay” didn’t last long as Sunny’s interest soon became very, very specific. Florence had me call Luna over to her and held her by the collar while Sunny approached and mounted.
Luna was anything but cooperative and despite Sunny’s effort, the first mount was off target so we separated them, let them run a little bit to burn off any excess energy and then tried again, this time with me holding Luna with Lois and Florence assisting Sunny’s guidance system to target. Florence gave me a firm warning to keep my face and hands away from Luna’ mouth, as it remained obvious she really wasn’t all to accepting of what was happening. This second mount was on target and Luna yelped at the appropriate moment, as I had been warned to expect, but instead of a traditional tying, Sunny somehow slipped out.
We let go of both dogs and due to Luna’s behavior – running about Sunny with not a mean but certainly an alpha bitch growling – we separated them, with Florence taking Luna inside, and then the three of us sitting outside with Sunny during his recovery, assessing what had happened and what to do next. Sunny looked a bit spent and like all he wanted was a nice steak and a cold beer. Florence thought Luna was on the cusp of being ready, that the day’s second attempt may have delivered a decent amount of semen, but given the outside tying, probably not much prospect. After some back and forth dialogue, we decided to proceed with our plan to return Saturday for another shot at a natural mating. Later that evening, Lois called and suggested we try an artificial insemination on Friday and then back it with the planned Saturday breeding. Back to Long Island we went.
We returned Friday and I left Luna in her truck crate and visited briefly with Lois and Sunny inside. His attention to me was incredible…like I had been dipped in pheasant and quail stew and rolled in tripe. Jumping, barking, sniffing and following me everywhere! I asked Lois if it was because he smelled Luna on me, which she confirmed but also added that was how he greeted her and Tony. He’s a high energy V, even for an 11 year old! Lois put Sunny up in his travel crate in their van and we followed them to the home of a woman named Diane, breeder/owner of the number one Lab in the ring and number two in the country in field, who was going to do the AI.
We entered Diane’ dog room, placed Luna in a kennel then positioned Sunny for the “collection”…an incredible experience to witness in person for the uninitiated. I held Luna’s panty at Sunny’s nose while Lois held him by his collar, while Diane did the collection and Luna stared at us from the kennel. All the time the three of us were encouraging and soothing Sunny by telling him what a good boy he was, and I tried to keep my gentlemanly composure and hide my smirk – but almost lost it when Diane changed her tune from “good boy Sunny” to a “oh, good man Sunny – good man!” After Sunny did his part, Lois took him out to their van and returned to assist with Luna. Diane took a non-needled syringe, pulling Sunny’s semen from the collection bag (a good amount – 2-3 plus tablespoons).
We then positioned Luna over Diane’s right knee to elevate her hind quarters, massaged Luna’s vulva and then inserted a good 8-10 inches of a thin plastic tube, connected the syringe, plunged and delivered the “liquid sunshine” into Luna. While we talked about the multiple progesterone tests with results all over the board, Diane’s encouraging assessment was Luna was ready given her swollenness and softness. We kept Luna in the elevated position for a good five minutes, then put her panty back on and I was given firm instructions to not let her urinate or do anything else for the next 3 hours. As we had 2 plus on our drive, that wasn’t going to be a problem. Along the way back to Alan & Amy’s home in Babylon, I drove through Floral Park, my old home town, past the house I grew up in and the street where I saw my first Vizsla 40+ years ago.
We’ll be returning to New Jersey later this morning for the last time on this trip…ideally for au natural puppy making, but Diane offered her able assist on doing another AI if Luna wasn’t receptive. Thoughts of what is hopefully to come given this mission’s success will occupy much of the drive, as will my best wishes and prayers for Jennie & Chris O’Brien of Chimera Vizslas, for their beautiful Mimi is due to give birth to her litter any time now.