May 21, 2019

“Sex: a temporary solution to a permanent problem.”



I decided to have Waldo neutered, have his dew claws removed and a microchip implanted. The microchip was pretty much a no-brainer, but the neutering and dew claws were not easy decisions.

I have mixed feelings about neutering. Waldo is a registered purebred American Border Collie, but I have no intention to breed him, so that isn’t a consideration. Neutering at an early age robs an animal of an experience that many people find beautiful and important. Of course, sex also adds a level of complexity that is a burden for a lifetime. Now, that may not be as big a problem for dogs as it can be for people, but who knows. Waldo lives in an apartment, is not completely free to roam and search for opportunities to explore his desires, and his instincts can lead to confrontational problems with other dogs when out and about. If he did get away, he could produce unwanted offspring and there are way too many stray dogs in the world as it is. I am told that, once castrated, his energy will be less frenetic as well (that I can understand). Anything that can put a damper on that is welcome. Still…

Nope. He’s losing his nuts.

I am told that dew claws are removed by some for aesthetic reasons. I don’t really understand that, but other people’s tastes are often beyond my ability to comprehend. The claws are vestigial, serve no function and sometimes get in a dog’s way. One of Waldo’s dew claws isn’t even attached to bone. They ride high on the hind feet and don’t come into contact with the ground, so the claw doesn’t get worn down like the others. They often get caught on stuff and, for an active puppy like Waldo, this puts them at risk for injury. He already injured one this winter (fortunately a minor injury). He was going to surgery to be castrated anyway, so I decided the dew claws would go.

Because he was having surgery, he would have to wear the dreaded “cone of shame” for ten to fourteen days. Dogs hate the damn thing (I don’t blame them in the least), and it can be a bother putting it on and keeping it on. The vet told me to keep him inside and quiet except for short trips outside so he can relieve himself. No long or medium walks, no playing ball, no tug-of-war, no running or jumping – make sure he stays calm. Calm. Right.

“How?” I asked, feeling a bit bewildered. “I mean, how am I supposed to do that, he’s a very active puppy! And for ten to fourteen days… Can you give me some help as to how to do that?”

“Just keep him quiet. If you don’t, he can pop his stitches, his wounds can open up and get infected. There can be serious complications. If it becomes a problem, we can give him some Trazadone, but some dogs have a paradoxical reaction to Trazadone and become even more agitated.”

Well, that doesn’t sound like such a good option… I’m hoping we can get by, somehow, without resorting to meds.

I mull everything over and come to a final decision. I look down at Waldo who looks back at me with a fur-faced grin that seems to say, “Are we going for a walk soon?” Taking a deep breath, I schedule an appointment for the surgery and one for ten days later to have the stitches removed. I hope.

The day of the surgery comes and Waldo and I go back to the vet clinic. At first, he seems quite happy and says hello in his usual wag-waddle way to the techs behind the counter. They take him into one of the rooms in the back and as he leaves me, he gives me a heart-rending, fur-faced look that seems to say, “You’re leaving me? That’s not right!” It’s the eyes that get to you, you know?

All the pros and cons, benefits, complications and burdens circulate in my head like a maelstrom. This is my last chance. I take a deep breath and swallow my heart. I somehow turn my back and walk out the door.

Thank God I don’t have to explain this to him…

If only I could let sleeping dogs lie.

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