We have been fortunate to be mentored by some wonderful and very exprienced breeders (both in and outside the Chihuahua breed) since we established Kitaco 5 years ago, and all of them have, at one time or another, recommended having two litters at the same time.
The logic is sound. Should anything happen to one of the bitches - from rejecting her babies through to the tragedy of not surviving the whelping - a second lactating bitch means you have a readily available foster mother.
Oh, and the soul-crushing reminder that, "well, you're not going to sleep for the first three weeks of a litter anyway..."
Organising to produce 2 litters at the same time is not as easy as it sounds. First you need the right bitches to be in season at the same time, you need the right sires to be available and in the mood, and you need to be sure you're mating them at the right time so that you actually get the aforementioned dual litters.
Science can take care of the last detail, but the others are less easy to arrange. The stars aligned for us late last year, however, when Tara and Kaley came into season within a week of each other. We hadn't really planned on having another 2 litters so soon on the heels of Bubbles and Chloe's babies, but we had, for the first time, both the right bitches in season with the right sires at hand. It seemed a pity to waste the opportunity to test the "two is better than one" theory.
We always intended to put Narci (GR CH, GR JNR CH, CACIB, NZ CH Mystic Legion Narcissus (Imp Greece)) to Kaley (El-Toro Liv-N-Doll at Teddee). Although our other girls are descended from the magnificent El-Toro lines, this was our first chance for a direct merging of the two lines, and Bev Ward of El-Toro is just as interested as we are to see what such an out-cross can produce. Randomly mating two wildly divergent lines can be a bit of a crap-shoot (as any of our breeding mentors will tell you) so there was just as much chance of producing something very ordinary, as there was of producing something stellar.
Tara's (NZ CH Kitaco's Divine Miss T at Eldivino) intended baby-daddy was a bit more problematic. She produced a lovely litter with Taco (Gemchi Yum Yum Taco), but it was a complete outcross and we have the wonderful Alice (Kitaco's Jappy Jalapeno) to carry on that line. We also only wanted to do one more litter with her (we don't often do more than 2) so it was important to get it right.
Her ideal partner, as it turned out, was our visiting house-guest, the absolutely stunning Ren (Salinacruz Renassaince). who is - co-incidentally - her distant cousin on Narci's side as both he and Ren are descended (via different lines) from the gorgeous 2013 US Westmister winner, AM CH, JP CH, GB CH Brilliant Win JP Famous Ambrose, Cannot thank the amazing Tanith Robb enough for allowing us use to her darling Ren. It's been a dream, dealing with someone so professional and generous and co-operative in arranging for us to get Ren's health test results submitted and his DNA screening done in an amazingly short time. All breeders should be so lucky to deal with such an easy-going stud owner.
So, we had the right bitches in season and the right sires on hand, two close matings and a theory about to be tested.
"Tested" turned out to be a very good description.
Don't Touch Me Tara decided that if Chloe could have her babies a week early, so could she. In what is becoming a disturbing habit on public holidays, we found ourselves catching another litter of 4 gorgeous, albeit very premmie babies on Waitangi Day.
Tara's litter is amazing and the first time these outstanding lines have been brought together in NZ, Although Ren and Tara are NZ bred dogs, but they are descended from a veritble who's who of famous of international champion ancestors. Tara is a Narci daughter, descended from her father's Cruft's and Westminister winnning Greek, Japanese and Italian champion lines while Ren brings his stunning Japanese and rare Latvian lines to the mix.
But so much for the synched up litters plan. Litter number one is a week early and Kaley is just sitting there, looking smug, with an "I'll have these babies when I'm good and bloody ready" look on her face that entirely disregards any plans we have, any theories we want to test and any hopeful notion of the "no sleep" part of the whelping process being limited to 3 weeks.
Finally, on Earthquake Day (Feb 22), Kaley delivered three healthy Narci babies: 2 beautiful girls and a lovely wee boy we have named Boomer.
So, here we are at what should have been the end of our "no sleep" stretch. 2 thriving litters 2 weeks apart. Tara's babies are spectacular, and she is a fabulous mother but she wants nothing to do with Kaley and her beautiful babies, so it's a good thing Kaley didn't need her help,
Kaley is looking a more than a little shell-shocked about having those beautiful babies and the "no-sleep" thing looks like stretching to about 5 weeks while she comes to terms with being a parent.
All we have learned from this experirment thus far is that Tara is probably the second best mum we have (Ms "I'm Never Going To Wean My Babies" Chloe is running in first place ATM). And Kaley is angling for the second worst mum, hot on the heels of "Oh, If I Have To Feed Them, I Suppose I Must" Diva, who is - bizzarely - Tara's mum.
Still trying to decide if this "two simultaneous litters" thing is a good idea or a prank the older breeders play on newbies to teach us a lesson.