I’m totally on board with the need to spay and neuter pets. I get that overpopulation and unwanted litters leave millions of animals to fend for themselves on the street every year. For those abandoned animals that don’t die of neglect, there’s always the chance they might be adopted from the shelter that takes them in – often though, adoption simply doesn’t happen, and that leads to shelters overflowing and having to make tough decisions about euthanasia. The ASPCA estimates that somewhere between 3 and 4 million companion animals are euthanized every year, so again, I totally get the need to spay or neuter your pet. But when it comes to my baby Oliver, boy it’s tough to imagine putting him through such a procedure.
We were fortunate that we got Oliver from a highly reputable breeder, someone who obviously cared very much about the welfare of the dogs in her family and the puppies she was offering. We were screened as potential buyers, we were given solid advice and guidance, and it was made clear to us that if we ever had any questions or concerns, that we would always have her support.
Wanting to make sure Oliver got the best possible beginning, we took him to the vet as soon as we brought him home. At nine weeks of age, he was started on a series of prescribed vaccinations and he was given a complete once-over to make sure he was in good health. He of course passed with flying colors, though I can remember having lots of questions for the vet about food, behavior, and that “procedure” I knew had to happen one day… fixing.
The vet offered to do it right there and then, and when I questioned how appropriate that would be for a dog so young, he assured me that it was OK. I figured it was inevitable, but the idea of putting Oliver through what would surely be a traumatic experience at such a young age didn’t sit well with me, so I declined the vet’s offer and said I’d do a little research and get back to him on setting a date sometime in the future.
Well, Oliver is growing up fast, and the future apparently is now. Most of the information I could gather on the subject suggested that somewhere between 5-7 months was a good time to consider having your dog neutered. So, since our baby is just shy of 6 months of age, I reluctantly called the vet a few weeks ago and scheduled Oliver’s procedure for this Friday, March 8th. Needless to say, the upcoming date has been weighing on my mind, and as it does, I have been further researching the process. Maybe I’m trying to find justification for what seems like a pretty barbaric action to take? Again… I fully accept that it is a necessary – and in the long run – humane thing to do, but I still feel pangs of guilt for imposing it on Oliver.
Just yesterday I was reading a blog post on a site that I follow – The Daily Golden – where the author highlighted a study which outlined the impact that spaying and neutering can have on Cancer and other aspects of animal health. The study was especially relevant in that it was conducted using information from a large number of one specific breed… 759 Golden Retrievers. Bottom line… there would appear to be potentially serious health implications for dogs spayed or neutered at a young age (i.e. less than a year old).
At the same time that I was reading and digesting this information, my reservations about Oliver’s scheduled operation on Friday had prompted me to contact the breeder we had obtained Oliver from. Patty has considerable experience and a strong reputation for breeding healthy and happy dogs, so I knew her advice would be good. When she quite forcefully described to me why it was NOT a good idea to have Oliver neutered so young – despite what the vet had told me – I immediately got on the phone to postpone Friday’s operation. Asked when I wanted to re-schedule, I told them I would call back when I deemed it more appropriate to schedule the procedure for Oliver, and that it would be no sooner than six months from now.
So, although I know it is a necessary and inevitable procedure, postponing his neutering for at least another six months has me breathing a big sigh of relief. I believe that pushing the surgery back to a more appropriate time will likely lead to Oliver having a happier, healthier, and hopefully longer life. Long post about a heavy subject I know, but look on the bright side… I get to share a little photographic review of the life and times of our soon-to-be six month old and still intact puppy… and besides, here’s a new one from this morning 🙂