Give me a litter of pups or a pack of rabid dogs rather than send me to a children’s soft play area in the midst of half term. So when a close friend suggested a lunch date recently, my hair started to prickle but this particular friend I hadn’t seen for an age and really wanted to catch up so I reluctantly agreed.
I arrived 10 mins early for our date and so allowed my two girls, 5 and 2 to remove their shoes and run off into the abyss of children while I suffered my palpitations quietly in the corner under the cover of a quick Facebook check and responded to a few client messages trying to mentally drown out the screams and sheer din that children en mass inevitably make.
My friend arrived around half an hour after me with her 5 year old and 12 week old baby. As she sat down I happened to get a wiff of a stinky nappy which sent my mind flying back a few hours and the sudden, soul destroying realisation that I hadn’t brought my nappy bag with me and therefore had no nappies or wipes for my two year old.
Of course, I instinctively knew that the stench was my 2 year old. Happily scooting passed me for another go down the slide so I gripped her and armed with a nappy the size of a new borns and my friends pack of baby wipes too I headed for the baby change room to deal with the atrocity that awaited.
To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as I expected, the only issue being my daughters commendable efforts to kamikaze down the slide had rendered her original nappy un trust worthy and she had leaked a little onto her tights and the back of her dress.
Having to think on my feet I cleaned her up, stripped her dress and tights from her. It was warm in the soft play any way, these places typically are to ensure the children ask for lots of drinks and snacks in between pretending they are super heros or searching for what I can only describe as debatable buried treasure including but not exclusive to; odd socks, well chewed dummies and the odd soggy blood spotted plaster from the ball pool.
Off she toddles back to her friends in the nappy we have resourcefully made fit and her vest while I withdrew to the table hopeful of an adult conversation with my friend.
There was no such luck as the next minute I realised that there was a commotion at the base of the big slide and heard murmurings of “someone’s poo’d on the slide..” feeling my cheeks glisten I tried to ignore it. My daughter was of course now clean and therefore the faecal matter coudn’t possibly be hers…could it?
I could feel all eyes on me, maybe I exaggerate through paranoia or maybe it really was this bad but I felt judged, these other mothers, maybe 20 of them in the soft play, had clearly never experienced their child embarrassing them or a situation residing from motherhood that was even marginally uncomfortable. RUBBISH!!
I decided the best form of defence was head on and I collared a member of staff asking if the issue was now resolved and, if it was in fact my child from her previous nappy that had smeared the slide, I would happily go and clear up my own mess. Relatively speaking obviously. I was reassured by her, this very young waitress that it wasn’t a big deal and I should sit down and relax. As she said it, a cry went out from another member of staff that the soft play was now closed for the next 20 minutes while they addressed a cleansing issue.
Que all eyes on me. I didn’t know how to react, I really wanted to stand up and shout that whilst we are all only human, we are all parents here. All Mothers in the main that are all winging life as a mummy, not one of us were born into this, we plan and we research and we read but NOTHING prepares you for what’s needed from you emotionally, physically and mentally to be a parent and a good one at that. We are ALL winging it, just some show it less than others.
I wonder how many of us comment on breeding posts on social media and judge the person writing the message? We assume they’re incompetent or depending on our own disposition, we assume they know better than us. After how many litters do we have to breed to be classed as “experienced” ? When do we stop needing one another for support and not judgement?
How many of those mothers staring at me in the soft play café wanted to lean over and say “don’t worry that happened to me last year” for fear of repercussions, clearly no one wants to be friends with the mum who’s kid s**ts on the slide!
I’m lucky, my friend found the whole thing hilarious and I’m a pretty tough cookie that it was water of a poodles back for me but how about next time we see someone in an awkward situation or we see someone being hounded over a particular query on Facebook, think outside the box and ask them if they need help.
They might just thank you for it, after all, it feels nice to be nice xx
“Dog breeding is like any creative art and combination of science. But most of all its about hard work and learning all the time. It’s about trying, making mistakes and learning from them.” Juha Kares 2016.
Benjamin franklin supposedly said “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and as I’ve just continued to read in a blog by William Bouffard from 2013 Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work”.
I agree with the blog author in that this Edison comment isn’t quite the mind set we should be in when learning from the past when it comes to breeding a living being. We don’t get many opportunities to “fail” as usually failing puts us in life and death situations with our pets or their progeny.
It still amazes me how many people think it’s “easy” to breed. Don’t get me wrong, fundamentally it is. Dog meets bitch, bitch flags her tail a little, dog follows for a walk round the grassed common and ….. well…. You know where I’m going with this. We’ve all watched THAT scene in Lady and the Tramp. He definitely woo’s her with the spaghetti.
That part, for the most part IS easy. But is it? Are the star crossed lovers made for each other? are their breeds compatible (this isn’t an anti cross breed post at all but a great dane and a chihuahua?? Commmmeee onnnn aint a nice image is it?).
Are they healthy ideally health tested specimens of their breed? Has she reached her peak ovulation or is the duck pond walk foreplay for a main event a few days later. Is “Tramp” firing on all cylinders so to speak? Are his swimmers up to the free style relay flowing towards him?
Does he have form and know what he’s doing (living up to his name of course) or is a little human intervention required? Maybe “Lady” ain’t a lady at all and snarls a serious “back off buddy” warning as soon as he comes within a country mile?
All joking apart these and many many more issues can rise when breeding and this is just the tip of the ice berg. There’s the pregnancy, whelping and rearing of pups. Suitable diets, delving into vet support and vetting of new homes before you even start on problem pups and potentially life threatening issues to watch for in mum.
I received a call this morning from someone with an 8 month old pup just out of season and she’s considering mating her next time. The lady caller wanted to learn about “breeding.” Just about to run out of the door on the school run before starting my days appointments and trying to take in the mammoth task that was being asked of me, my response was that she may be needed to buy numerous books, read up on the wealth of info on social media and the internet, chat to numerous breeders within her chosen breed about health testing etc and maybe enjoy her puppy for at least another year and come back to me and we’d chat again.
Ok, so I am rubbish at my job in that light. I know for a fact others in my position would have taken the opportunity to offer stud services immediately and cash in on the poor girls naivety for their own gains but I couldn’t sleep at night. Hopefully, she’ll take my response in the means it was meant and come back to me in a year with food for thought.
And then to the lovely lady I met this afternoon with her bitch in pup with an estimated 6 babies due just next week give or take to the resident stud muffin. We chatted about the accidental mating’s and she, as many clients do, told me “she’s not a breeder”. My response now to this almost daily phrase is, ‘you are now my love!”
It is our responsibility not just as breeders but as dog owners with entire opposite sexes at home to educate ourselves on the beautiful art of breeding.
From the spaghetti dates to the cute little fluffies with red bows at the end of the hopefully happy, if not a little traumatic in the middle, movie.
I am in the final stages of completing my “Need to Know….” Packs which previously have been electronic form for some clients, and now will be in printed copy in handy folders to help ease your research into the world of breeding a little more gently.
To add to that I am almost through reading Sara Lamonts new book “not born yesterday” which I highly recommend already! An easy read for the experienced and new breeders out there looking for that extra bit of reassurance that if and when your babies make babies you’re fully prepared for what’s to come!! Being a bestie of the author I’ll have a special offer available next month to purchase both my pack and Sara’s book for a limited time at a discount fee;)
while you’re taking five minutes to read this post, you’re naturally thinking over your own breeding experiences past or present… maybe you could impart in the comments your biggest mistake or your best advice to a newbie? Maybe we can help each other from making the same 10000 mistakes Edison did ?