So one day before I was due to fly to Porto (which has obviously been cancelled due to virus stuff) and once again just before I thought I may go and visit my parents (getting away from the city would be a nice back-up holiday plan) Shadow comes on heat. She first came on heat very close to her turning six month, by which I mean I came downstairs one day and when she flopped onto her back for belly scratches I saw drops of blood on her privates, that was all. Easy, I thought, not sure why people are so dramatic about this coming into heat business. I was mostly upset because I had been planning to return to my parents’ and quarantine up there for a couple of weeks and then had to change my plans because Shadow’s parents live with my parents and I didn’t want her dad getting any incestuous thoughts (I don’t really think he would have but always better safe than sorry!).
So this time, when I came downstairs one morning a couple of weeks ago and found blood drops once again between her legs I wasn’t worried. Last time she seemed to clean up any blood from herself before I even saw her in the morning, and her behaviour changed very little apart from a slight increase in neediness. It appears though that her first heat was just a warm up heat, this one must be real. Now when I go downstairs there’s lots of blood drops, or blood smears on my floor (lovely white floors, very dramatic), she jumps up incessantly when greeting (which I keep reminding myself she’d almost stopped doing), she can no longer be trusted to return to me if a male dog walks by and shows an interest (I’d taken for granted her basic obedience to me), and her genitals, which last time looked exactly as they always did, are now huge and swollen and seem somehow in your face when she lies on her back (my friend says they look like balls, I can’t help but agree, and I’m not a fan).
It’s been about two weeks now and there are still blood drops on my floor, but less of them each day. I’m not sure if she’ll move into the next phase of heat after they stop or if she’s in that now. For now I have bought a heavy duty extendable lead for use in the park and I’m trying to mostly take her to secluded places where she can be off-lead without risk of any male dogs finding their way to her. I’m looking at options of spaying her, I don’t want to breed her myself but I also don’t want to spay her too early and affect her growth or behaviour before she’s fully grown. So I’m unsure whether to wait until she’s two years old and get her spayed traditionally, or look for a vet offering an “ovary sparing spay” before then. In an ovary sparing spay the ovaries are (surprise surprise) spared and left intact, this means that all the hormones needed for healthy growth and development are still able to be released when needed, it also means though that she would continue having the symptoms of going into heat alone with her regular cycle. She wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, so I wouldn’t need to worry quite as much about other dogs, but she would think she was in heat like any other bitch and the behavioural changes, the jumpiness, the clinginess, the risk of ignoring my recall commands, would all remain. As would the swollen “balls” she loves parading around the place. Is it stupid to base decisions of your dog’s future on you not wanting to see an inflated vulva? Probably. Luckily there are other things to decide, so it’s not just based on that, it may be a factor though. I’m not sure if anyone even offers OSS around my area, or how much more it would cost than the traditional operation, but it’s still something I’m looking into. That or wait another year and a bit, I guess I’ll see when she next comes on heat and how bad it is, and I’ll do some more research into the possible side effects of both procedures into dogs in general and German shepherd specifically if I can find any (any reading recommendations/experiences gratefully received!).