Practically Speaking

Practically Speaking – real life issues, and how we deal with them.

A time to implant…

 When is the best time of the year to provide dogs with no names with a  contraceptive implant?

The right answer if you are on the medical team is summer as we all enjoy fair weather days to work outdoors. In addition, it is rather difficult to prevent implants and vaccines from freezing at -20C.

The right answer if you are a dog with no name is also summer as you will be freely roaming or soaking the warm sun rays of July. During the cold winter days, you will be huddled with other dogs in old abandoned cars to stay warm: you will not roam and be easily spotted by spying eyes of the DWNN team.

But really, if you are on a limited budget and take in account the above two factors, the best time of the year to neutralize female dogs is early spring. Here is why: as we know the survival rate of each litter in winter is poor since only the mother is likely to survive along with one maybe two pups at most. Thus only one maybe two dogs would need an implant (pup has a 50% chance of being female). However, in July that same female is more likely to successfully raise 8 pups: five implants would now be needed to neutralize further reproduction.

We have heard it often: if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? and that certainly applies to dealing with the problem of overpopulation of dogs. Why implant (or spay) five females when there is an opportunity to do only two? The time of the year to address a problem matters.


Six reasons why it’s tough to be a female dog:

It is only by recognizing, acknowledging, and articulating a problem that a solution can be brought forth. The DWNN team is focusing considerable efforts on sexually neutralizing female dogs, as for every inactive uterus, hundreds of unwanted lives are not born. We welcome input from everyone as a collective mind is stronger than an individual one. Here are 6 reasons why it is tough to be a girl dog and how we are working to solve the problem.

1. Their litter is their strongest competitor. Mothers on the rez give their all to raise their pups. The problem is as these pups get to be 6-8 weeks old, they compete directly with their mother for the little food available. In this case on the photo, the resident wished to give pups away herself so the mother got implanted, deworming pills given all around, and lots of food given for them all until pups found new homes. The longer the pups stay, the more they endanger their mother’s life if there is no external help.



2.  An average size dog like this girl in the photo requires about 50ml of water per kilogram of body weight per day. Simply put, a 50 lbs dog needs over one liter of water a day. But what if you are heavily lactating? That requirement at least doubles to two liters per day. … What if 5 to 6 months of the year there is no free flowing water and dogs need to eat snow to get their water intake? To get one cup of water, one needs to eat about 10 cups of snow (can be as much as 20 cups if the snow is dry and powdery or as low as 5 cups if the snow is wet). So for a girl dog with no name who just had 8 puppies in January like this dog in the photo, she would need to eat nearly 100 cups of snow a day to sustain lactation. Of course, there is the problem of staying warm eating all that snow at sub-zero temperatures. So every time we encounter a lactating female on our field trips, pups MUST  be pulled to ensure not only their survival but that of their mother’s as well, it is not a matter of just providing food. The best outcome is to pull the mother and
spay her. A new home awaits this blue eyed dog.

3. The road system on First Nations land has certain peculiarities which can be hazardous to anyone not used to it, including free-roaming dogs. On the positive side, we have witnessed dogs on the rez looking both ways before crossing a busy road – amazing! However for a girl dog, whom we know will be rigorously  searching for food and water 4 months of the year (late pregnancy and lactation), chances of vehicular trauma and death are increased. This is a difficult issue to deal with  since there are no animal services/pound services on the rez: we must rely on individual people to address the problem of hurt dogs.


4. On the rez, as soon as a female with no name reaches sexual maturity (likely around 8 months of age), a successful breeding is almost guaranteed to happen. Although there are plenty of male dogs around, we suspect that a male litter mate is likely the first one to breed her (incest). Although natural selection mechanisms prevent this from ha…ppening in close relatives like wolves, these mechanisms are no longer in place due to our genetic manipulation of dogs. This is not unique to rez dogs, it is also the case for our companion dogs. It is not unusual to find girl dogs less than one year old with a large litter in tow (average number is 8). Thankfully there is great acceptance of non-surgical contraceptive implants when this problem is addressed. This was the case of this little 5 month old who received an implant. As a result, the earliest she can have a litter if not spayed or re-implanted is likely not until after 2 years of age.

5. It takes a community to raise a child, it takes a pack of wolves to raise a litter of wolf pups and, unfortunately, it would also take the help of another dog for a mom to raise her litter without struggle. Unfortunately that is not the case for rez dogs: a female does not normally get assistance from other dogs to help her feed and care for her 8 pups. Al…so the pups need to learn life lessons on how to interact with other members of their own and other species; they will have limited learning when taught only by their mother since she can only teach what she has experienced herself. In this case, it was unusual and heartwarming to see a nearby freshly implanted pit bull female protect the pups of this long-haired blond mom while she departed to feed. This blond female received an implant and pups were eventually pulled with permission.

 6. Female dogs with no names can be shy, very shy. In the photo, team member Mona is trying to make friends with “dishwasher dog”, the long haired dog. She was implanted over 2 years ago, having just had pups. We had then cornered her in an old abandoned dishwasher and were able to handle her for implant and vaccine. Since then, every attempt to re…-implant her has failed. Murphy’s law (if something is going to go wrong, it will – code for if a dog will be friendly to us it will be a male) often seems to apply when trying to catch females. Males, as frightened as they are (look at posture and low tail of the short hair dog), often make contact with us while females seem incapable to, as much as they would like to. Anecdotally, previously uncatchable females become “friendlier” and catchable once they have pups at their side. We’ve never had lactating females show aggression to us while handling their pups – not always the case with our companion breeder dogs.


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