On Neutering

Today’s post is about Egon.

"Hello, ladies."

Two weeks ago, when Peach went for her vaccinations, Egon tagged along for the long ride into Quebec. He was also getting his vaccinations, but for a darker purpose: once Egon was vaccinated, he would be neutered. Egon has always been a lover, not a fighter. At 8 months he has never sprayed, fought, hissed, or even looked cross at anyone. His weapons are subtle: the Flehmen, the Hump, the Neck-Bite. Indeed, my friends, Egon would utilise these foul weapons against even his own sister.

Since Astrid is about 2/3rds of Egon’s weight, she was a bit outmatched. Being equally lover-y, she wouldn’t fight back, and would only cry pitifully as he tried to hump her into the floor. We spent a lot of time clapping and shouting at him, and he spent a lot of time looking forlorn, or pressing himself to the floor when he thought we were angry at him. It wasn’t going to stop, so we knew it was best to get the deed done sooner, rather than later.

So Egon went to a more local vet yesterday. Not the local vet (Who is prohibitively expensive) and not our family vet (Who is prohibitively far) but a vet in-between. About a third the driving distance, but right in the middle, price-wise. He was dropped off in the morning, and kept all night, and we picked him up this evening. He was active, alert, and not at all phased by the lack of his two little friends. It will take a few weeks for his hormones to even out, and until then we expect to continue to clap and shout when he gets too frisky, but Egon has had the Snip.

There’s some research being made into neutering and spaying companion animals. I haven’t found much research into cats yet, but in dogs, the results are staggering, and go against much of what we’ve been taught. With my first Pom, I chose not to neuter because, well, I wouldn’t crop, dock, or declaw, why would I neuter? Apparently, I was “in the right”. Research shows almost no benefit to neutering a dog, but some downfalls, like an increase in the harder-to-treat prostate cancer. Sure, he won’t get scrotal or testicular cancer, but those are much easier to treat. Research also shows a link between aggressive or hypersexual behaviour once a dog is neutered. My belief is that, since these behaviours aren’t governed by hormones anymore, the dog begins to use them out of context.

With females it’s a bit more touch-and-go. Some breeds have been shown to have a longer lifespan if they can benefit from hormone production until middle-life. The occurrence of mammary cancers if left intact doesn’t rise until after age 3, in some breeds.

Egon may have been neutered, but his sister is waiting a bit. Spaying a female cat is almost not a question, as female cats do not shed their uterine lining with each heat cycle, which can lead to a deadly build-up and infection called pyometra. Peach… Well, it’s touch-and-go. She’ll be able to benefit from some hormone production, since an early spay is just not an option for me. But whether she remains intact for one year or ten depends on the future.

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ID 4 Life

There are many ways to identify your pets now. Some dogs still get tattoos, most wear registration or rabies tags, many have microchips, a permanent form of identification. I’m a sucker for the adorable- I may have mentioned this, with my Bone Bowl and wicker dog basket and tiny sweater?- so I absolutely needed a cute ID tag for Peach. But what was cute enough for her?

"Hello, my name is ADORABLE."

I didn’t want a regular disc tag, although I did check out the Tag Studio’s excellent customisation options at length. I didn’t want another Boomerang CollarTag, even though they’re a great option if you hate dingle-dingling as much as I do. I just like the tag to be very visible, to attract attention in case of emergency. I even checked Etsy for lots of different options for graphic tags and hand-stamped tags, but none of them felt right. Until I remembered that Dog-Milk did a review of some dog tags by Animal Outfitters, who made “Hello My Name Is” tags.

I thought, that is what I need for Peach. But I didn’t like how the tags were in settings, and the price was a little prohibitive. So I looked up other options on Etsy, and found ID4Pet. They do many graphic tags in shiny, resin-like material. You can buy your dog a fake license tag, or a heart-shaped tag, or a Keep Calm tag. They’re almost endlessly customisable, because ID4Pet allows you to select your colour and font choice. On some tags, you have more options than on others. All seem to be double-sided.

I ordered Peach a tag, and then realised that we may be moving soon and change our phone number, so my cell would be a better option. ID4Pet offers to make a second tag with a different number or in a different colour/font combo for a little over half the price of the first tag. If you’re smarter than me, you take up the offer immediately and save on shipping. If you’re not… Well, I’ll be waiting another two weeks to receive my second tag. They do take a while to make, as they appear to be baked to set the resin that makes up the majority of the tag, and makes it so shiny, durable, and waterproof.

Cuteness level: Over 9000.

I received Peach’s tag today and affixed it to her collar with a second jumpring, to keep it forward-facing. She tried to eat it until she got used to it, and then I snapped a few adorable pictures. I chose a small tag, in tea rose, with font option #22. It suits her, and is probably my favourite tag I have purchased to date. And I have gone through lots of tags in search of adorable!

Puppy’s Rules of Twelve

When I wrote my post Training a Puppy in 12 Easy Steps!, I’d forgotten that it is as easy as 12 steps. They’re called the Puppy Rules of 12.

By the time a puppy is 12 weeks old, they should have met 12 people, 12 other animals, played with 12 objects, eaten 12 things, walked on 12 surfaces, heard 12 strange sounds… Basically anything they may encounter in life should be multiplied by 12. It’s an excellent way to approach training and socialising a puppy, without overwhelming dog or owner. I’ve heard others claim a puppy should meet 100 people and 100 dogs by 3 months, which can be so much, so fast. Overwhelming a dog sets them up for failure; overwhelming their person sets the dog up for failure.

Peach is 11 weeks old tomorrow. I have tried to count up her 12s. She has met 11 people, though not interacted significantly with about half of them. She has met 5 other animals. She has been on many substrates, played with many toys (Trust me!) and eaten many things (Again, just take my word for it.) She has also heard many sounds: strange video games sounds, shouting, music, loud trucks, bells… Peach is well on the way to meeting her quota.

And as each day passes by, she grows a little bolder. Today she went on a longer walk and wasn’t scared as much, and was easier to calm. She also passed a dog and did not become shy; when she passed a reactive dog, she became fixated, but not scared. She let my boyfriend’s mother pet her today, and accepted a treat of delicious cheese from her. Peach is also learning a quick sit, general manners, and a new trick.

Remember, it’s not about stuffing as much experience as you can into your puppy or socialising dog: it’s about the quality of the encounters they make.

Pupsonality

Having raised three puppies of the same breed, I’ve a good grasp of the characteristics associated with that breed, and also a few that aren’t often spoken of, or described correctly. Pomeranians are known as vocal, affectionate, protective dogs. You don’t often here about their tenacity, their spirit, their need to do anything they are asked to please their people. They’re part of the breed’s temperament, a set of characteristics deeply engraved in their genetic code.

But that doesn’t make each Pomeranian the same. Or any other breed of dog. Or any mixed-breed of dog.

My first two Pomeranians were similar to each other when they were pups: bold, fearless, eager, curious, and almost brainless. As they aged they became different from one another, but still the same. The male would persistently try anything to get a positive reaction, and the female would persistently do whatever got her the result she wanted.

Peach is different. She is just as tenacious, affectionate, and spirited. I have no doubt she would be protective of “hers”, after she growled at a dog at least 20¬† times her size at the vet’s. But Peach is not bold, or fearless, or brainless. She is curious, but cautious. She thinks. You can see her little cogs turning a mile a minute while she tries to figure out, Will this work? Will this thing get me good things?

She is soft-natured, where my other Pomeranians were bold as brass. She has all the good hallmarks of a Pomeranian, along with a little Peach. Sweet, trusting, honest, shy. And anyone seeking a dog should be prepared that that dog will not match the breed standard, or the common temperament associated with their breed.

A dog is an individual. They have pupsonality.

Working like a dog!

Since I was a wee thing, my family has told me I should be a veterinarian. I am passionate about few things, and animals are one of the things I hold closest to my heart. Learning about them, teaching them, watching them grow. Raising my cats from newborn kittens was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. Being a part of Peach’s early development? A dream come true.

So when I had the opportunity over the summer, I became part of a local business project. At our farmer’s market, I made and sold dog collars, leashes, toys, and treats. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, mostly because my market was not actually our poor, destitute city, in which many dogs don’t even use leashes (Despite leash laws) After a time, I found that I was unhappy with the quality of the supplies I was using, and moved on.

Peach's leash and collar.

When Peach was coming, I was once again unable to find her any apparel I really liked. So I ordered new supplies, and when they arrived, I made new products. I had enough left over to make collars for both of my cats, as well. It struck me that, in trying to make something to suit my dog, instead of something to suit an arbitrary collection of “needs” I felt I had to fulfill, I had created the product I initially set out to create in June of 2011.

So today, I’ve opened the Etsy store Little Blond Dog designs, in honour of my little princess. Thus far, of course, with only a few supplies left, I have only a few items up. I hope to be able to add more patterns, more sizes, more styles, and more things to my shop, in time.

In time, I am also hoping to become a CCPDT certified dog trainer… I just need to find out how to get there!

Egon and Astrid's collars.

Adventure: the First Vet Visit

Peach had her first adventure this weekend. Saturday morning we were up bright and early, packing bags and securing animals, to go into Quebec to visit my family vet. Doctor Allan, of the Taschereau Veterinary Clinic in Greenfield Park, has been the owner of the clinic my family has used for three generations. My grandmother, my father, and me, have all brought our pets there to be cared for by his competent staff. I’ve tried using local vets, but find that they are too expensive and too disconnected from the animals and the people. Doctor Allan’s staff is there for the pets first and foremost, not to rifle through your wallet.

Of course, this meant a long, long drive into Montreal’s South Shore area, and a long, long wait in the walk-in clinic’s waiting room. Peach had a friend along for the ride, of course: Mr Egon was going for his vaccinations so that he can be neutered shortly. He traveled very well in his carrier.

Are we there yet?

Egon spent most of the ride and wait taking a nap at the back of his carrier. Peach spent most of her time curled up in my arms, watching the world go by. This was her first major excursion, as she hasn’t had any real walks without her vaccinations. In the waiting room at the vet’s, there were many cats, dogs, and people. It was loud, and smelled funny, and there were dogs barking in the back room. A baby cried. To Peach, who is a very soft and cautious puppy, it was too much. When a Saint Bernard puppy sniffed her bum for the third time, she got scared, and did not want to interact with anyone else, including a cute little Yorkie boy who just wanted to share his rawhide.

In the office, with less stimulus, both of my pets shined their shiniest. Peach took the strange physical examination and weighing- three and three-quarter pounds!- in stride. She didn’t mind her temperature taken, because she had treats (I’m a prepared sort of person) and barely noticed the injection. Egon (Eight and a half pounds) strutted out of his carrier like he owned the place, accepted scritchies to stretch out, took his needle, and then retreated to the carrier when it was all over. We then walked through the freezing cold for about ten minutes to my grandmother’s, where she got to meet both Peach and Egon for the first time.

Mmm, lamb.

Egon made himself comfortable rubbing on everything, and Peach went to the crate to nap. The injection took a lot out of her, and she was itchy and tired for the rest of the evening. Of course, when we stayed at my dad’s fiance’s for the night, Egon was enamoured by the stairs, and kept running up and down them like a small herd of elephants. Together, they are a team, and Egon helped Peach get some zoomies out before bedtime.

It was a very long day for both of my pets, but today we are home, and everyone is feeling much better. Peach did get a basket and a stuffed lamb from my grandmother out of it, and she can start visiting the wide outside now.

Stop Growing!

It dawned on me today that in the two weeks Peach has been part of the family, she’s grown.

It’s a little hard to see with a small breed. They start small, and end small. Peach was about the size of a big Teddy bear syrian hamster when she was born, and she was the biggest puppy. She’ll ultimately end up about 7 pounds as an adult. There’s not much of a change from here to there, considering how some giant breeds start out small (4-5 pounds) and end up enormous (200+ pounds)

Pictured: Most appropriate canine diner ever.

But Peach is definitely bigger. I can see it more in how she approaches the world than how she looks, physically. Two weeks ago, she had trouble reaching her double-diner, which is the Bone Bowl (It’s amazing and flawless and fulfills my need for adorable things) She would insist on standing in the space between the knobs on the diner to reach her bowls. Now, she stands with ease in the middle to reach either of the metal dishes containing her delicious meals and water.

A week ago, she couldn’t jump up over my arm and onto my lap(top) while I was on the couch. Now she bounces a little and I have to tell her she can’t use my computer. In a similar vein, she couldn’t reach the seat of the couch with her paws, and now she’s this close to being able to run and jump up on it with us. She is still dwarfed by her sibling-cats, but now she can hold her own against them when they wrestle with her. Also, she can eat a whole treat in two bites, instead of in four hundred.

It’s amazing to be on the inside watching an infant animal grow, but sometimes, you miss the little things. An inch or a pound, and to visitors, the dog looks totally different. But since we see that inch or pound gain millimeter by gram, it’s hard to see the growth. We just suddenly realise, hey! My dog isn’t as small as he was! And then I write a blog post.

Because that’s what crazy people do.