Unbroken dog fixed; owner sheepish at his own ignorance

Posted Sept. 16, 2011, at 1:48 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2011, at 3:55 p.m.

I never knew. Honestly. I didn’t. No matter what else you take from this column, please accept that premise: I never knew. Confused? (Apparently, I was, too). Read on, and all the sad details will become perfectly clear.

It all started several weeks back, when Pudge the Wonderdog began whimpering every time he tried to jump up on the bed, or wobble downstairs, or even when he slammed on his previously dependable brakes too fast.

A trip to the vet was in order. Pudge stood patiently as his doctor poked, prodded and probed. After a few tests, it was determined that his prostate gland was too large. And as an 8-year-old INTACT (foreshadowing alert!) male, he had a problem that needed to be dealt with.

At least, that’s what the vet told me. After his prostate exam —- an invasive, embarrassing proposition, whether you’re man or beast — Pudge did not seem overly impressed with the doctor’s … well … pedigree.

I could see his point, to a point. After all, it’s not every day that you walk into a doctor’s office with a limp and a whimper and find out that (even though it had nothing to do with your current malady) they’re going to give you something to really whimper about.

Lost in the shuffle: He’s also getting a bit arthritic and has a narrowing of his spinal column (thus, apparently, the limping and whimpering).

The prostate, however, was what really had our doc concerned. A simple prescription dealt with the limping and the whimpering — not a peep since — but that prostate? It needed help.

“He’s an aging dog,” our doc said. “And like aging humans (I may have imagined her raising an eyebrow, accusingly, toward me), the prostate becomes a concern.”

The solution sounded simple enough. There were two problems, of course.

The first: Our doc mentioned “neutering” in front of the patient, a very smart dog who, apparently, has read more canine medical texts than I have. The second? Well, I think we’ve already been there: I never knew. Not really. Not completely.

OK. Not at all.

Pudge, of course, did. He tried to put on a good face as the day of his surgery approached. He didn’t limp around the house any more. He didn’t whimper. But as Karen and I discussed his appointment for what we called “The Big Snip,” he seemed to be plotting.

Apparently he knew what “The Big Snip” was. Even if I didn’t.

Two days before surgery, he had had a health setback that required the appointment be put off for a month or two. I’m not saying my dog is a liar, but I do believe that I saw him smirking as we walked out of the vet’s office that day.

He hadn’t received a pardon, mind you. Just a stay. But that was good enough for him.

Eight weeks later, after a couple more interesting health developments — I call them “delaying tactics” — Pudge was finally cleared for surgery. His appeals had run out. The Big Snip was a go. The neutering was on.

Then, on the appointed day, I led a solemn springer spaniel into the vet’s office, signed him in, and got a huge surprise.

“Yes. Pudge. For castration,” the receptionist announced, loud enough for all the other dogs in the waiting room to hear.

Pudge took it in stride. The other dogs may have wagged their heads in sympathy. Me? I recoiled. I know I did.

As I said, I never knew. I really didn’t.

The Big Snip, I got. Neutering? No problem. But castration? That, my friends, was a huge, huge deal … and somehow I made it through 46 years on this planet without realizing that The Big Snip was a lot bigger than I’d always thought.

Having had several friends and acquaintances go through what I now think of as “the little snip,” I figured that the “neutering” procedure would be similar. A little dog vasectomy. No problem.

One segment of my friends — male, non-dog owners, for the most part — admit (privately) that they shared my confusion. They might have thought the same thing, they say. Not that they’d have written a newspaper column about it, of course.

Another segment — dog-owners and women — laugh aloud, quite certain that I must be kidding.

Alas, I’m not.

I’d tell you to go ask Pudge for confirmation, but unfortunately, we seem to have developed a bit of a trust issue lately, and he’s not talking.

This, I fully understand.

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