This entry is a bit PG-13 so readers beware.
As some of you know, Waymire Schnauzers has been planning on breeding our dam, Fritsi, with an AKC champion. Unfortunately for us, there are no gorgeous AKC champion miniature schnauzers in the Twin Cities area. This fact has led us to a whole new world-- the world of artificial insemination.
To those who just want a nice miniature schnauzer whom they bought from a good breeder, they probably do not care a bit about how the babies were made-- they just want their new family member to be a quality pup.
We want the same for our families but on our end the A-Z process is a bit more complicated than meets the eye-- especially when we decide to bring in the fancy new papa from Pennsylvania. You see, flying Fritsi or our dream- sire (thank goodness Ozzy cannot read or he would be so offended!) half-way across the country is not an option, nor is it necessary in this modern age.
So here we are: exploring the new-for-us territory of artificial insemination (AI). This is a well-established practice amongst breeders of all sorts of species (cattle, for example) but it is new to us which means a lot of learning has had to be done.
The situation has been complicated by the fact that Fritsi went through either a silent or a skipped heat in October 2019 and tends to show minimal outward symptoms of heat (the usual signs include vaginal bleeding and vulvar swelling-- PG-13-- you were warned). Just to keep us on our toes, Fritsi has been behaving like she is in heat for a month now by burying her food, storing her food and eating next to nothing. She has been acting very flirty with Ozzy (a total teeze if you ask me) who has also been ignoring his food (sires have ONLY one thing on their mind when a female in heat is nearby. Typical males). Because of these behaviors we have had no idea when our friends in PA should be ready to rush his highness to the vet for a semen collection. It is like being on-call to deliver a baby. So far we have had false alarms when Fritsi and Ozzy were acting super randy and based on this we have twice had to run her to the reproductive vet 30 minutes away for a progesterone test at $100 each and they both showed she is not ready! The investment is real!
Obviously, monitoring Fritsi's behaviors was not providing reliable information which leads us to where we are today: staring into a miscoscope.
Flashback to microbiology in 2002: a bunch of med students in white coats in a lab making gram stains to study bacteria. My husband (who is more of a science geek than I am) heard me say "I wish I had a microscope" and off he was only to return a couple hours later with a $200 microscope, slides, stains etc in order for me to do my own vaginal cytology.
After reading approximately 30 different web sites with images of the canine vaginal cytology through the stages of heat, I started obtaining my own samples and making slides. Grossed out yet? Sorry, you were warned. I'll leave out the gory details but, finally, 10 months after she was last confirmed in heat, Fritsi is in heat and our handsome sire's family in PA is waiting for the call.
So what happens next? Hopefully steps that will lead to a beautiful litter of salt and pepper pups. When Fritsi's slides tell me it is time, I will run her to Smith Veterinary in Burnsville (one of the 2 repro vets in the Twin Cities area) for a progesterone level. If the level is between 5-10, our sire will be taken to the repro vet nearest them in PA (a 3 hour trip each way) for a semen collection (use your own imagination or google this if you want details because that is rated R). His semen will be chilled and overnighted to our vet who will inseminate Fritsi using the trans-cervical method and probably a few prayers on our end!
We are committed to improving our breeding lines and if this is what it takes, we are up to the challenge. We are also very blessed to have a family of a gorgeous sire that is so kind and willing to work with us. We cannot wait to see these puppies!