Good grief, I’m sick of hormones in this house.  Hannah is done her heat cycle, and Kestrel should be out in a day or two.  What a nuissance to have multiple bitches cycling together!  Well, I suppose it at least gets things over with all at once.  From that perspective, I wish Mira would join the club and get onto the same cycle as the other two.  For she gets just as stupid with all these hormones, even though she’s not in heat, and then goes through it all again when it’s her turn two months later.

The heat cycle of a bitch lasts around 21 days.  They are only actually fertile for a few days during that time, which is when they are in what is called “standing heat.”  They call it this because the bitch will stand for the male to breed her.  Hannah is a perfect case in point – if she’s not in standing heat, she will not stand.  Instead, she will sit on her behind and protect her chastity with bit pointy teeth.  Good girl!

Because of this, it is very clear when Hannah is ready to breed.  She stands around days 12-15 of her cycle.  Kestrel seems to be about the same.  Mira stands much earlier, at around day 9 and stands for close to a week.  She may not be fertile that entire time but I do have to watch her carefully.  Another way to tell when a bitch is in standing heat is the colour of her blood.  It will start out dark red, and then turn a paler, almost orange or rust colour when she’s ready to be bred.  Daily checking with a folded kleenex is the best way to keep track of this.

Because I don’t have an intact male in the house, I don’t really worry too much about them getting pregnant.  When they are in standing heat I don’t leave them outside unattended.  And even before they are standing, when they’re out I am sure to put either Ross or Mira out with them in the yard, as they will both bark loud and hard should another dog come near.  We did have that big male lab come visiting when Mira was in heat this summer, but there’s been no sign of him this time.  I suspect he’s just a summer resident as I haven’t seen him in a while.

The clearest indication, however, of when a bitch is ready to breed is behaviour. My goodness, you should have seen the flirting and carrying on that is happening in this house this week.  It got to the point of being so annoying that everyone got put in crates.  Poor Kestrel received the brunt of it.  When Hannah was standing, all she wanted to do was flirt with and hump Kestrel.  Mira has been wanting to hump Kess all week.  Now that Hannah’s out, she’s lost interest in flirting, but Kess is now standing and Ross is following her around, flirting his heart out.  At first Kestrel was terrified (she’s still very weary of Ross) but now she seems to be enjoying the attention.  Who knows, maybe they’ll get along better now.

Interestingly, Ross paid no attention to Hannah when she was standing.  I don’t know why this is.  Maybe he considers her ‘family’ or maybe she isn’t emitting the correct hormones or body language.  He is very keen to breed Kestrel and Mira, and I have to keep him apart from them when they are standing.  But he pays no attention to Hannah whatsoever.  Today, Hannah is beating up Mira while Ross is flirting with Kestrel.  Could she possibly be jealous?

I’d love to know what’s going on in their heads and how they all see each other and their relationships to one another.  I’d love to understand why the girls are so keen to have little love fests with each others.  Why does Mira try and hump Kestrel but not Hannah?  Is it a dominance thing?  Is it something else?

Hopefully this will all be behind us by tomorrow.  I am sick of the hormones and I’m sick of keeping high energy dogs cooped up in the house where they get sillier and sillier.  I’m also sick of how goofy Mira gets when there are all these hormones floating around.  This week she’s taken to refusing to go outside unless I’m out with her, and otherwise just wants to spend the day curled up on my bed.  She won’t come down when I call and I have to go and physically pick her up and put her out the door.  Then she sits, leaning against the door until I open it again.  Yeesh!  So bloody annoying.

Well, we’re off to work sheep and hopefully also work off some of this goofiness.  And by tomorrow hopefully we’ll be through this round of hormonal craziness.