Friday Weird Science: A very special Sheepdog and retrograde ejaculation

So Sci was feeling rather…uninspired for this week’s weird science. Life hasn’t been easy lately and it’s wearing on me. But then I saw a recent post from Isis’ co-blogger (and, to Sci’s mind, possible doppleganger) Set Oculus. Set Oculus, who’s gender is apparently no longer in question (though I don’t know if I believe that, I know plenty of chicks who can pee standing up, as well as a few who can ejaculate), is now on a drug which is going to cause retrograde ejaculation.

Sci was immediately intrigued.

Ejaculation, you say?

I bet I can pubmed that…

And then, when Sci did, she found a paper. When she had read through the phrases “ejaculation with a full bladder”, “palpation of the testes indicated normal size”, and “using an estrous teaser bitch”, she was hooked (that’s “bitch” as in female canine).

Yup. Dogs. Post et al. “Retrograde ejaculation in a Shetland sheepdog” Canadian Veterinary Journal, 1992.

So let’s start with the three stages of ejaculation, and the story of a Sheepdog.

First off, I want to let you all know that if you look up “ejaculation” on wikipedia, you will find a video that is extremely instructive. And rather NSFW.

Anyway, so this dude had a sheepdog and he wanted to breed it. He tried with three happy little ladies with no results. Nothing was wrong with the ladies, so the guy took the dog into the vet. And here’s where we get to the good quotes:

I do not envy vets. All the dog testicle palpating and manual ejaculations and estrous teasers and measurements of anal contractions. Now THAT is glamor.

Anyway, the dog, no matter what, orgasmed and failed to produce any ejaculate. It turned out that all of the ejaculate was going back up in to the BLADDER, where the sperm were probably swimming around wondering what the heck happened and why this doesn’t look ANYTHING like a uterus.

So before we go into what they tried with the dog, let’s talk about ejaculation. There are two major stages. And for this we’ll need some anatomy.

1) The orgasm begins. The sperm cells and fluid come in from the epididymis (in the scrotum) up the ductus deferens, and pool in the proximal urethra (at the base of the penis). During this time, the sympathetic nervous system plays a big role in closing off the bladder.

2) Arrival of the semen into the urethra signals the firing of the pudendal nerve. This causes massive contraction of the muscles in the area, which propels the semen through the urethra, sometimes at distance. Masters and Johnson reported once that they saw a guy with an 8 foot ejaculation. Strong muscles.

From the two stages above, it’s pretty easy to see what problem the dog probably had. He probably didn’t have enough sympathetic nervous innervation to close off the duct coming from the bladder to the urethra. Then, when he attempted to ejaculate, the semen just went backward and ended up in the urethra. Sure enough, when the vets checked the urine, there were the sperm.

But this is where it got rather odd. Apparently this Shetland must have been a real prizewinner, so much so that the owner was desperate to get some of that sperm. They ended up trying three things:

1) Ejaculation on a full bladder. If the bladder is full, the semen can’t go backward, they can only go forward. Apparently this didn’t work, but I really want to know who prevented the poor dog from lifting his leg on anything all morning.

2) Drugs which promote closure of the bladder sphincter. This also didn’t work. The dog must have started to wonder why he was being brought in to the vet every morning and exposed to dog ladies in estrous to get him all hot and bothered.

3) The most extreme measure. When they couldn’t get ejaculation at all, they got the dog to orgasm, and then they catheterized him and tried to extract the semen from the dog’s urine. They attempted to artificially inseminate three dogs this way, and all of them were abject failures. You gotta figure, even if you’re fast, swimming around in the urine is probably not good for sperm. The pH isn’t optimal. OTOH, there HAVE been cases in humans where, if a guy can pee first, THEN have sex, and THEN pee in the woman’s vagina (yes, I said that) the sperm can get out quickly enough and not be exposed to too much urine.

You can also do this without the woman in the equation, and attempt to protect the extracted sperm with a fluid or something pH balancing. It’s apparently pretty successful in humans Apparently the sperm they got from this dog weren’t in that bad of a shape, but still no pregnancies resulted. It’s possible the numbers weren’t high enough, or that the way of getting it into the female dogs wasn’t effective.

However, what interested Sci most about this paper was the sheer amount of MONEY they must have spent trying to get this dog to breed. Unless it was the winner of something seriously important (who knows? Maybe it was), this is a lot of money, and a lot of missed orgasms. Sci says, give the dog a break and let him have some fun.

Post K, Barth AD, Kiefer UT, & Mapletoft RJ (1992). Retrograde ejaculation in a Shetland sheepdog. The Canadian veterinary journal. La revue veterinaire canadienne, 33 (1), 53-5 PMID: 17423931

13 Responses

  1. You know, I bet that the kind of vet who writes papers about dogs ejaculating does it (at least partially) because they’re really interested in it. Why else would somebody do that?

    I can just imagine how the authors might explain to their children what they do at work. “Well, honey, I make dogs happy for a living!”

    Also, where did they get the “teaser bitch” from? And whose was it? Is it a career teaser bitch, or just some female dog that was hanging around the waiting room? “Oh, we need to make him ejaculate? No problem! We keep a female sheepdog in heat in the storage room for times like this.”

  2. Thanks for that wiki-jaculate video link. There’s nothing so attractive as a tepid, thick, oozy, acapella cum shot.

    Ew, wikipedia. Just, ew.

  3. @hectocotyli, my favorite descriptor of yours is “a capella”

  4. you know, I’m no Westminster Kennel Club genius, but perhaps a dog with such a congenital defect shouldn’t reproduce? What IS it with these insane dog people anyway?

  5. I worked as a vet tech for many years. One of the things you do as a vet or a tech is artificial insemination. I even worked with a reproduction specialist. Her job was to fix just this sort of problem, and perform C-sections.

    I swear, when you perform this sort of procedure, you just feel used. You don’t even get dinner beforehand, and the dog never calls you back.

    In all seriousness though, drugmonkey has a point. Prize-winning dogs are horribly inbred. A responsible breeder will not breed animals that have congenital defects. However, if you have the money and a patient vet, you can make it work. I once helped perform artificial insemination on a bulldog. Bulldogs just aren’t fit for life on this planet, and yet the owner REALLY wanted him bred.

    A teaser bitch, btw, is usually owned by the owner of the male dog. The time to start getting him to produce is right around when she goes into heat. She probably has winning bloodlines as well, which implies a certain degree of inbreeding and relatedness to the stud.

    I just don’t understand why people do this when there are millions of needy animals at pounds that are just as sweet and loving. I hope the money he gets from those prizewinning puppies is worth it to put these poor dogs through all of this.

  6. John Sandford wrote a mystery a few years back where a drug with this effect was involved. IIRC it’s supposed to treat baldness.

  7. Um, excuse me. “…ejaculate, then pee in a woman’s vagina…” WTF??

    Is this from a study or a fetish? And if the former, WHY??? Who signs up for that??

    • Apparently it worked. Basically, if the guy has really bad retrograde ejaculation, you MAY be able to conceive by emptying the bladder as much as possible, having sex to orgasm, and then making the motion of peeing into the vagina. The idea is that the sperm went backward into the otherwise empty bladder, and can then be voided. I don’t know how well it would work, but apparently it’s worked on at least one occasion. I think the better option is probably to do the same thing without the woman into a cup and purify out the sperm for IVF.

      • See, at this point I’d have thought the woman would have said “Honey, let’s try a sperm bank.”

  8. pee on woman’s vagina WTFF LoL

  9. “… and THEN pee in the woman’s vagina ”
    That should have been your opening sentence. Pure gold.

  10. […] The sheepdog that just couldn’t finish the job, not even with an ‘estrous teaser bitch&#… […]

  11. […] The sheepdog that just couldn’t finish the job, not even with an ‘estrous teaser bitch&#… […]

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