As upsetting as Joey’s automobile accident was, in some way being told by a veterinarian that he had an enlarged prostrate gland and needed to be castrated was as upsetting. Clearly not in the same way. Differently. But deeply.
First, I am glad that Joey has written and published his post: this too was injured when I was hit by the car . This means that now I can write publicly about some of the private issues he has been dealing with, though he hasn’t understood what those issues entail.
Two months ago, back when Joey had come home from being boarded, he was just as happy as can be! We saw nothing unusual there, in his behavior or demeanor!
And along with Joey we brought home a summary and medical report of what the attending doctor had observed, and what medical actions the doctor recommended be taken. She was clear on paper and on the telephone that she felt Joey needed to be castrated – and soon.
The night Joey came home, Phil, Joey and I each got back into our respective routines, and Phil and I tried to think about what all this meant, where to go from here. We were dealing with the question of medical need, ethical questions, and the issue of ever using Joey – or his semen – for stud.
Phil and I originally agreed that there might be some medical issues here, but decided to ask for a copy of the lab results. We promptly received them as an email attachment and, upon reading the lab results, were no longer convinced that the case for castration was closed. The lab results were nowhere near as damning as the doctor had made them out to be.
The doctor had indicated the following symptoms and observations: 1) Joey marking with no urine coming out, 2) blood in the urine when Joey urinated or marked, and 3) an enlarged prostate gland detected upon a manual examination.
With unconvincing lab results and Joey’s behavior, as we observed it, not being consistent with what the doctor reported, we created our own path: In the following weeks as Phil and I slipped back into our daily routines, we were looking at Joey whenever he peed or marked. We were looking to see if urine came out each time. And we looked to see if the urine contained blood. It seemed a bit surreal to be looking at Joey’s urine. But we had already become keen observers of almost everything Joey did.
So what did we observe? Or, conversely, what didn’t we observe? We didn’t observe any blood, and we were certain of that. And when Joey lifted his leg, urine would always come out. I mean always. Because Joey likes to mark almost every tree and almost every bush, we saw plenty of urine and plenty of marking. In fact, sure as the grass grows right under his feet, Joey sniffs out spots (we’re talking about the urine left by female dogs here) and he likes to mark there, too. And we saw plenty of urine there, too.
Dad and I had explanations for Symptoms 1 and 2. First, Joey loves dogs and he marks so much that sometimes he marks himself dry. This would be a likely scenario at a place where he was being boarded, where dogs abounded and where Joey has been famous for marking.
Our explanation for Symptom 1 is that, where he was boarded, Joey was, simply, pee-d out!
Second, Joey had suffered severe laceration of his penis when he was hit by the car, as he has now told you. The skin surrounding the penis had been pulled back and the penis lacerated as it came into contact with the ground. The cut went fully around the penis and after the accident, whenever Joey got excited, blood rushed out his penis once so much so that Joey had to be rushed to the hospital. This added to the restrictions on his life (and our life) after the accident until that could heal again.
So our explanation for Symptom 2 is that being boarded, he was more excited than normal and that therefore blood from his penis injury was ending up in his urine.
We had no explanation for Symptom 3.
But we did have our regular veterinarian, at Joe’s regular animal hospital, who had also been sent these lab results and recommendations: I phoned her and spent a long time on the telephone discussing this situation. She had been the emergency room doctor when we’d brought Joey in to the emergency room the month after he was hit by the car, on the occasion when he was bleeding massively. She also understood Phil and me and our concerns about castration. I hate even writing that word.
In our conversation, we discussed our own observations of our dog, and our ethical (and other) issues around castrating our dog. She questioned us carefully about our observations of Joey – and why we were questioning the other doctor’s diagnosis. She trusted our observations. She shared her knowledge of the medical issues involved. We listened to each other. I took notes. And then she and we developed a plan:
Joey was due for an annual physical exam in a little over one month, and at that time we would bring Joey in for his physical and he would get his prostrate gland examined to see if it was enlarged and if it was asymmetrical. In the meanwhile, we would be observing his peeing and pooping to see if we observed any peeing without urine coming out, if we observed any blood in the urine, and if we observed any straining on Joey’s part when pooping.
Phil and I were glad to have picked up the phone and taken the time to share our doubts on Joey’s diagnosis with Dr. Tamara. And we were glad to have a veterinarian with whom we could share our concerns – and can trust. We found such a veterinarian – and together we were going to look after Joey’s well-being.
I also telephoned the diagnosing doctor where Joey was boarded and told her the plan we had reached with Joey’s local veterinarian. I wanted her to understand our “issues” too.
The now the big exam is scheduled for tomorrow.
Joey’s going to have some surprise when he gets his prostrate exam! But more importantly, what will the examination show? Will the exam resolve our fears, or will it send us down another difficult path?