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The pet dating game.

He may be the bee's knees; she may be the cat's meow--but should they get together?

"In the spring," Tennyson wrote, "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." But have you read the personal advertisements lately?

"Dark, handsome, experienced, prize-winning shepherd of German ancestry desires to meet light-colored female shepherd with great hips, good personality, championship background, and rich owner. Please send photographs. Object-ROMANCE." "PUSS & BOOTS COMPUTER DATING SERVICE-We can match your, lonely, passionate female cat with an amorous, winsome male with an impressive pedigree for one or several evenings of love and excitement. Kittens guaranteed or your money back."

It's spring, and you begin to wonder if you are refusing your darling pet one of nature's greatest pleasures.

Many owners should not breed their pets. Because of overpopulation, it's often difficult to find homes for even pedigreed animals. Think of you pet. A spayed or neutered dog or cat is often a hapier, healthier animal. Spayed or neutered animals are less likely to roam and fight; they ae at a lower risk of developing certain cancers, and they will never produce an unwanted litter. But breeding may be an option if you are willing to invest some time, monery, and care.

You must be prepared if you are serious about breeding you pet. Research the subject thoroughly. See your veterinarian and have your pet checked for potential medical problems or inherited disorders. Owners of unpedigreed pets should consider the options carefully before breeding their animals-litters of unpedigreed parents cannot be registered, and homes for the offspring may be difficult to find. Mixing breeds is not recommended for beginners. The American Veterinary Medical Association cautions pet owners not to breed their pets for the wrong reasons. For more information, send an SASE to the AMVA, 930 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60196, and request a copy of the pamphlet Pethood or Parenthood.

How do you select a mate for your dog or cat? Check with your veterinarian, local kennel club, or breeders association for the names of reputable breeders in your area. In some areas, pet "dating services" can put owners in contact with breeders in their area. Get the names of several breeders, and find an established one who clearly has a stake in the future of the breed.

Know your pet-its strong and weak points, as well as its background-before selecting a mate. Roberta Vesley, the library director of the American Kennel Club, says, "People who are going to breed dogs need some education about the lineage. If they are beginners, they should seek the advice of knowledgeable people who can look at their dog and give an objective opinion.

"Responsible dog ownership is the key to the whole thing," she cautions. "Don't breed your dog unless you know there will be an improvement of the breed."

*Breed an animal with a certain weakness to an animal with a corresponding strength.

*Look at littermates and parents of the prospective couple to get an idea of family traits.

*Consult a pedigree service to find out about the colors and championships of your pet's ancestors. The American Kennel Club and many other organizations provide such a service. It usually costs from $5 to

$50, depending upon how man generations are checked and how quickly you need the information. The Cat Fanciers' Data Center (77 Essex Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042) provides extensive information about the background of male and female cats of every major breed. Animal breeders classify the mating of father and daughter, mother and son, or full brothers and sisters as inbreeding; the mating of close but less direct relatives, such as cousins, is called line breeding. Animals from such matings can be registered,

but because these pairings intensify faults as well as good points, inbreeding is best left to the genetic experts.

We often assume that animals know how to do what comes naturally, but an inexperienced male may be unable to breed a female in heat. Pairing an inexperienced female with a proven male is best. Artificial insemination (AI) can be considered after trying to mate an incompatible canine couple. Consult with a veterinarian who offers this service. Check the requirements of the American Kennel Club for registering the offspring.

What is involved after the animals are selected? Usually, the female is sent to the male for mating. The female cat is an induced ovulator-she will go out of heat after being bred. The female dog will remain in standing heat, accepting the male for about six days; usually, the bitch will be bred twice at half-day intervals.

What about medical considerations? The appropriate local or national breed club can advise you on disorders common to your breed and on certification that the prospective parents are free of problems. Certain breeds tend to inherit defects, such as hip dysplasia in German shepherds and retinal dysplasia in Bedlington terriers. Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a disorder of the eyes and skin, can show up in light-colored blue smoke Persians with light yellow or green eyes; do not breed Persians with this coloration. Genetic counseling, advertised in many pet magazines, might be worthwhile if you know little about your breed's genetics.

Your female dog or cat should be checked by a veterinarian and declared free of parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to the offspring. Brucellosis is a venereal disease of dogs, and potential parents should be tested before breeding.

The pregnant or nursing mother should be on a special diet that supplies adequate protein and calories.

Tail docking, ear trimming, or vaccinations for the offspring may be necessary medical expenses.

Caesarean sections are common in certain breeds, such as English bulldogs and toy breeds; this expense should be considered when figuring your budget.

What are the costs? Linda Johnson, who breeds and shows Rottweilers, recently surveyed 35 established dog breeders, representing 23 different breeds. The average monetary expense was $2,482.47 per litter, including the original cost of the bitch at $462.29, the male at $772.57, and labor at $3.50 an hour. Quite an eyeopener for those who envision raising animals as a get-rich-quick scheme. For a copy of the survey, send a selfaddressed, stamped envelope to Linda at Box 179, North Clarendon, VT 05759.

How do you register the offspring? The American Kennel Club (51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010) is the major organization for the registration of most dog breeds. Both parents must be registered with the AKC before their litter will be eligible. Litters from (1) mothers under eight months or fathers under seven months at the time of mating or litters from (2) any parent over 12 years of age at the time of mating will be registered only under special circumstances. Seven organizations register cats in the United States. The largest is the Cat Fanciers' Association (1309 Allaire Avenue, Ocean, NJ 07712).

Should your pet be mated? The answer depends on the reasons for the mating and the health and attributes of your dog or cat. An animal of proven superiority can pass its genes on to future generations. But our country is suffering from pet overpopulation. Before you spend money for your pet's night on the town, consider the pros and cons of pethood.

Questions for the Vet

Dear Dr. Whiteley,

I have a calico cat named Ginger. But I want a small house dog. My dad said he might get me one for Christmas. But Ginger doesn't like other animals. But we're getting a dog anyway. What would be the best small dog to get? I really need your help.

Maranatha Eubank Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Dear Maranatha,

Personality is more important than looks when selecting a puppy. Select a confident puppy that is moderate in aggressive tendencies. In other words, I would avoid selecting the shy, submissive type of puppy or the puppy that runs up to jump and bark at you. Investigate the behavioral traits of breeds you are considering. The next consideration is Ginger. Introduce the two for short periods at first. Have someone else hold the puppy while you give Ginger lots of love and affection so she won't feel left out.

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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:breeding and breeding services
Author:Whiteley, H. Ellen
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1988
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