Friday, June 25, 2010

Bisou's Menopause

With a single exception, every dog I've ever owned has been spayed or neutered. Bisou, who just had the surgery yesterday, is the eighth. Until my last two dogs, I never gave the procedure a second thought.

But recently the prospect of neutering my puppies has been tinged with melancholy.
It's sad to think that when great galumphing Wolfie and sweet wild Bisou are gone, no child of theirs will be left behind to remind me of them.

But I did it anyway. Yesterday I bundled Bisou into her crate and drove to the vet's, gave her a kiss and handed her over. Today I paid the bill and picked her up and listened to the vet techs' accounts of her lightning-fast recovery. "You'd never know she'd had surgery," they said, their eyes round with amazement. But then, Bisou does everything fast.

My job during the coming week is to keep her quiet. No jumping, no running, no swimming. I have already failed at this. On the way out of the vet's office I was fully focused on the need to not let her jump up into the car. I had her on a leash, and was completely intent on picking her up and depositing her gently into her crate. This was not difficult. I was prepared, and I was going to do it right.

But then I must have blinked, because next thing I knew she had leaped into her crate.

Now we are home, and I have tied the other end of her leash around my waist, hoping that this will give me some control over her enthusiasm. How can a little animal who has just endured a total hysterectomy have such bright eyes, such shiny fur, such desire to run and jump and carry on? Except for her shaved belly, which exposes her weird keyboard of nipples (she has a couple of extra small ones on her left side) she looks terrific. Her long wavy ears give her a melancholy Victorian air, but the mind that lurks between those twin ruby cascades is anything but melancholy.

In a young woman, a total hysterectomy would be considered catastrophic. She would immediately be put on a regimen of hormone replacements to keep her from experiencing the troubles of a sudden and premature menopause. In years past, as I breezily took my adolescent bitches to be spayed, I was never troubled by the thought of what the removal of her ovaries might mean to a dog. Now, with Bisou, I wonder, will she have hot flashes? Will she have mood swings? Will her sleep be disrupted? Will she feel old before her time?

I will not repeat here all the benefits that veterinarians attribute to neutering. And I believe that it is my responsibility not to allow yet another batch of puppies to come into this world. Plus I certainly wouldn't want to go through another heat with Bisou, let alone a lifetime of them.

But still it makes me sad to think that when Bisou gives up the ghost (many, many years from now) there won't be a little red daughter of hers following me from room to room, hurling herself on and off every sofa, bed, and table in the house, letting me believe for a moment that Bisou is not entirely gone.

4 comments :

  1. i felt that way about toby, very strongly. i would LOVE to have had a toby puppy. but then what to do with the other six or seven or eight puppies in the litter?

    i have always only had male dogs, never a female, and neutering is easier for them. even so, i was given the same warnings--don't let toby run or jump or swim.

    i remember going to pick him up at the vet after the procedure. he was woozy. he perked up when he saw me and tried, briefly, to leap into my arms, winced, thought better of it. that was hard to watch.

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  2. Years ago, when I had my big German Shepherd, Jesse, neutered, he pulled out all his stitches, and I had to rub antibiotic cream into the wound several times a day....

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  3. It is sort of sad. I felt sad thinking about it when she was here last week. She has such a powerful and beautiful presence. But I also think you made the right choice. And who knows? Maybe there will be a Bisou niece or nephew or half sibling in your future.... And maybe Bisou will be as much of a pitbull with them as her mother is with her. God knows, she is her mother's daughter!

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  4. Keep those great bloodlines going, Alix! Bisou is draped across my legs as I write--not quite her rambunctious self, but not complaining, either.

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