We’ve just celebrated Joey’s tenth birthday!
A few weeks later, Joey tells this story in his blog, in his posts (you can follow the link to read his story) that he was boarded for a few days. (He doesn’t tell our side of the story, that he was boarded where there were medical personnel to watch him, because he was still limping, still in the early days of his rehabilitation. We knew they’d get him out walking and they’d keep him occupied – social animal (literally) that he is!)
To cut to the chase, the background here is that Joey is an unaltered male.
It’s interesting to me that I write about him not as a dog any longer. I didn’t write that Joey is an unaltered male dog, but an unaltered male. Without the emphasis on “dog”. The fact that he is unaltered and male right now seems as important as the fact that he is a dog.
More than ever I see him as a dog. But what exactly that means – what exactly is a dog? – has a totally new answer for me, born by a totally new experience of our dog. A totally different species, one who I have suddenly started getting to know as if I never knew him before! That is the new challenge for us – to understand and know as much as we humans are capable of knowing it, what is a dog. The two adjectives, unaltered, and male, seem as important as the noun category, dog.
But getting back to the story about his being boarded, one technician noticed that Joey was peeing – and that nothing was coming out. Or at least that nothing came out. The technician noted that Joey’s pee seemed a little differently colored. It’s so interesting: How can a technician tell one dog’s pee from another dog’s pee? Am I actually talking to people about a dog’s pee? What is happening to me?
Apparently the testosterone from whole male dogs creates a different odor than unaltered male dogs! (What is happening to me? Am I actually talking to people about the odor of a male dog’s pee?)
It was totally surprising to us that this, an enlarged prostate in our dog – should develop – but we think to ourselves, Joey is now ten years old….Maybe he is developing an enlarged prostate! Maybe age is starting to catch up with him. Our big and strong and gentle and beautiful chocolate Labrador Retriever is starting to show his age??? We are also thinking to ourselves: How lucky we are, that Joey was in good medical hands just when this condition developed.
So Joey tells the story in his post that suddenly he was getting more attention – his version of the fact that doctors took a blood test to see if he had an infection and checked his prostate to see if it was normal or enlarged. He’s not worried. Not at all.
Joey likes getting attention, and he likes giving love and licks too, and the doctors at the boarding area are only too happy to receive licks and give love, so each test is just one more opportunity for him to meet new people and give more love. That’s our Joey! (That’s our “dog”.) We find ourselves to be like Dr. Kiko, feeling proud of our dog.
The blood test, in its time, came out negative, and the prostate showed to be slightly enlarged.
The doctor was slowly, and not so subtly, encouraging us to have our dog altered. Fixed. Neutered. Our male dog would no longer be whole. He could no longer make beautiful puppies who would grow up to be loving, kind, child-friendly, strong, healthy, and attention-getting (even if we didn’t have a female in mind for him). What would happen to his pride! His uniqueness. His slender physique. He would be like every other unaltered male dog around. Like Samson, his hair clipped. Then there were the religious questions: Castration is a form of disfigurement. And we are not allowed to cause pain or suffering to an animal.
Phil and I paid careful attention to everything the doctor told us. At the same time , we didn’t feel compelled to just accept that his medical condition warranted such a drastic more. Or that, if Joey did have a serious medical condition, that there weren’t alternatives to castration.
We were so happy that Joey had survived his accident. Life was better than ever. But if he was castrated, our male dog would now be – what??? Exactly what?
…to be continued