March 23rd, 2013
You may recall – I did tell you, didn’t I? – that the people we got Wolfie from were not reputable breeders as they seem to have thought, but bona fide assholes.
Well, it gets better.
Apparently, Wolfie has an undescended testicle, which for those of you in love with difficult words and tongue twisters, is known as cryptorchidism.
A reputable breeder would either NOT sell a dog with this condition, or would neuter the dog before selling it, ALSO making sure the buyer is aware of the condition. Because it’s hereditary, and that’s not a trait you want being passed down. A dog in this condition that doesn’t get the undescended testicles removed faces a high risk of that testicle becoming cancerous.
I find it hard to believe that they didn’t know Wolfie had this. He was old enough, by the time we got him, for it to be apparent.
Then again, since it doesn’t seem that they were taking such good care of him to begin with, it’s certainly within the realm of believability that they didn’t know. He seemed like such an afterthought to them.
Anyhow, the current vet says the answer is to neuter.
Truth be told, until I heard about this condition, I was NOT planning to neuter this dog.
Now, before you get on your high horse and start preaching about spaying and neutering, which has been shoved down everybody’s throats for the last several decades on TV by the ASPCA, Bob freaking Barker, and anyone else who supposedly loves animals, hear me out. Shut the fuck up, and hear me out.
This whole neuter-and-spay-every-fucking-cat-and-dog-alive attitude has come about because of the high number of strays on the streets. And I totally understand that, because I HATE seeing stray animals. Some were born there, some were taken by people and tied to a fence or a tree or some shit and left there, and that ALWAYS breaks my heart to see a wandering, lost animal.
BUT…and this is a HUGE but…that does NOT mean that the ONLY answer is to spay and neuter the shit out of every animal.
I am a responsible dog owner. I have no intention of letting Wolfie wander the streets aimlessly, looking for females to hump on. He never goes out without a leash, he never comes OFF the leash until he is back in his house.
I actually WAS considering beginning my own breeder business with Wolfie as my first sire, but that is not to be. I cannot breed him with that condition. He would pass it on, and the whole business would be fucked from day one, with all his offspring and descendants at risk for carrying the trait or having the condition. Not only would it be bad business, but it would be awful to knowingly bring animals into this world with that.
BUT…having said THAT, I do have SERIOUS concerns about neutering him before he has fully matured.
Testosterone, estrogen, all these hormones that we (and canines and felines) produce…they’re there for a reason. They carry certain benefits, and our body produces and hopefully regulates them, for a REASON. While I do understand the need to take out the testicle that is going to serve no purpose and could in all likelihood harm him if left in, there is no reason that the one that came out and is happily swinging solo, needs to go. Not necessarily ever, and not this early.
The vet estimates that he is about 9 months now. He’s not a full-grown dog. He will be a handful when he is. And here come people waving the AGGRESSION banner, that if I don’t neuter him, he’s going to be a more AGGRESSIVE dog.
Fuck YEAH he’s going to be more aggressive. He’s a dog, and a male German Shepherd, at that. He’s SUPPOSED to be fucking AGGRESSIVE. But I’m guessing that people choose the term AGGRESSIVE when what would REALLY be appropriate, would be…ACTIVE.
And here’s where I’m going to school you. Because some people think, oh, I am such a responsible pet owner, I got my dogs done at 6 months and now they are docile and more manageable and I did what was right for them.
You did what was best for YOU. You wanted the dog to be “manageable” so you cut off his testicles. You didn’t want to deal with a bitch in heat, so out her ovaries came.
The way I see it, I’m a more responsible dog owner than you are. Why? Because I don’t do things to make MY life easier. If I wanted this to be easy, I wouldn’t have gotten a fucking dog. THAT’S easy. But if I’m going to go out there and get a dog, and then cut his shit off so that he can be GENTLE, then clearly I’m not really capable of handling the dog. It’s like people who put their kid on Ritalin just because they’re hyper. A 3, 4, 5 year old, hell, even a 10-year old, is SUPPOSED to be active. They’re not SUPPOSED to sit on their asses all day being docile. But we let our kids cry it out so they’ll learn to self-soothe at 2 months, and why? Well, we tell ourselves it’s for them, that they need to learn to be independent. At fucking 2 months. Fuck, why don’t we just throw a fucking blender into the crib with some frozen veggies and tell them to make their own food? I mean, shit, they have to learn SOME time, right?
I find that much of what passes for good parenting (and, not so distant, good pet ownership) is making it easy and convenient for the PARENTS. And that, to me, is not good parenting. Or good pet ownership. That’s people being too fucking lazy to handle the pure spirit of what THEY decided to welcome into their lives, whether it’s a child or a dog. I’m not saying we, as parents or owners, should never have a break. After all, we crate train, we housebreak, we potty train. We teach dogs commands, we teach our kids to listen to us. We do this not to help our kids and our animals grow and be able to enjoy the world at large. But when we start putting kids on drugs and performing surgical procedures that are not NECESSARY, and then vindicate ourselves by saying it’s best for the kids or the animals, that’s just WRONG. Because it’s NOT always best for them. It’s EASIER FOR US. And that is completely FUCKED UP.
Reading up on Wolfie’s condition, I found a growing number of veterinarians who are questioning the hardline we’ve taken as a society on neutering and spaying, especially before the animals have matured to adulthood and received at least some of the benefits of having those hormones course through their bodies. Even some hard-core spay-neuter people have come around. The best testimonial I read came from a woman who said she was a diehard proponent of spaying and neutering until one day it hit her that, as a woman, she’d gone through puberty, had her period, and basically come to adulthood, yet she was depriving these animals of the same “process”.
And we’re not talking about adulthood as a rite of passage. Trust me, I don’t want Wolfie to keep his lone testicle because I think he’ll be less of a dog or less of a male. I’m not trying to make sure he keeps his swagger on. This is not for bragging rights, either mine or his. I’m trying to make sure that for his HEALTH, he doesn’t totally miss out on the benefits of having his testosterone.
Will keeping that testicle render him more active (yes, I said ACTIVE, not AGGRESSIVE)? Yes. It’s MY FUCKING JOB TO KEEP UP WITH HIM, not to just SLICE OFF HIS COJONES SO THAT I CAN KEEP UP.
Because he is pretty smart and energetic, I want to sign him for agility training. Just like my other children, he needs to be kept busy and active, using his brain and his muscles. He should have his testosterone to do that. Not saying he can’t do it without it. What I am saying, is that it will help. And that the benefits may well outweigh the risks/downsides of keeping those hormones in his system.
Now, since we do want to avoid mating, vasectomy is an option – but not one that many vets will agree to do. Why? Because they weren’t taught to. His current vet, when asked if we absolutely HAD to take off the other testicle, breezily responded that “there would be no reason to keep it.” Which told me all I needed to know about how much THOUGHT she puts into her work. Clearly she is just going with the status quo.
And I’m not saying the status quo is always wrong, but…when it’s been in place for several decades, it bears some re-examination, if only to confirm that it is still the most sound path. And people don’t do that. They just do whatever they’ve been doing, whatever society tells them to do, and are afraid to step outside the box.
If I were that person, I wouldn’t homeschool my children. But I am that person. I try my best to do what is right for THEM, and even from one child to the next, I may make different decisions, because what works for Punksin may not always be what’s best for Pudding.
And what’s good for millions of cats and dogs across America is not necessarily what’s best for Wolfie. I want a vet who understands that, who will consider that, who will do what is best for HIM, even if that’s different from what the fucking ASPCA has been screaming at us for decades.
I am a responsible pet owner. Wolfie’s monthly health insurance premium costs the same as the health insurance premium for all 4 humans in this house combined, but I do that that I will never have to worry about whether or not I can take care of him when he gets sick. I nursed him from being an underweight malnourished shy pup to a happy-go-lucky big baby of 64 pounds (and still growing) who is active and thriving. I do not let him run the streets. I am taking him to “school” to get trained not only so that he can be a good canine citizen, but because training is good for a dog mentally. Dogs are smart, German Shepherds being among the smartest, and teaching him commands and letting him run obstacles will be GOOD for him.
So with all that said…NO. I am not taking off his one testicle just because it’s what everyone else does. And NOT doing so does NOT make me a bad owner.
It makes me someone who puts thought into my care and love for this dog.
A doctor I wrote to online confirmed for me that, even with cryptorchidism, he does not need to have the descended testicle removed, and can indeed have a vasectomy. Now, my quest is to find a veterinary surgeon that will DO it. If I cannot find one, I may have to make a road trip to Florida, where this vet is located, if she will have us.
Because yes, that’s how much I love this dog.
- Health Implications in Early Spay and Neuter in Dogs (thepetblog.net)