As an author for Tails and a pet guardian who would personally love to see an end to the suffering borne of animal overpopulation, I’m not unfamiliar with the benefits of spaying and neutering. I’ve written articles discussing this topic and have even lectured good friends about the health and social perks of the aforementioned medical procedures. Yet there are undeniably HUGE plusses to spaying and neutering that you only truly appreciate once you mix an “un-fixed” dog with three small children.
When we adopted Isetta–our rambunctious Poodle–the shelter assured us that she was spayed. Not being a veterinarian or a professional breeder, however, I didn’t quite know what to look for to reaffirm what I had been told. But shortly after we brought her home, we found out that Isetta was still completely intact in the way of reproductive organs.
I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that I had carpet and upholstery cleaners tackling all of my couches and carpeted rooms. In addition, Isetta had a few other health issues to boot, so corrective surgery wasn’t an immediate option. At the moment, though, my husband and I obviously knew we weren’t going to put our pup into any situations that would promote Poodle reproduction. We therefore assumed it would be okay to wait our predicament out for a bit longer and use doggie diapers to deal with whatever inconveniences we encountered in the interim.
Unfortunately, that assumption didn’t take into account that Isetta has a few interesting habits that dominate our household whenever she goes into heat. For starters, she bolts out the door like an Alcatraz escapee every time the opportunity presents itself. We attempt to be more conscientious about gating her in the kitchen when someone knocks, but that plan has inevitably proved itself faulty.
Case in point: Last summer, my babysitter innocently rang the bell. I had intended to put Isetta in the kitchen before she arrived, but I was caught off guard. As a result, our beloved Poodle whooshed over the threshold, and I found myself sprinting barefoot for approximately three-quarters of a mile. Finally–after displaying to my entire neighborhood that it truly does take women who have just had a baby an incredibly long time to get back into shape–I managed to snag Isetta and bring her home to a welcoming committee made up of a worried babysitter and sobbing children.
But such antics are only one example of the insanity that erupts when our pooch demonstrates that the folks at the shelter weren’t completely accurate in their description of her fertility status. Much to the surprise, awe, and occasional horror of people who frequent our home, Isetta tends to . . . hmm, how shall I delicately put this . . . “mount” whatever moving target wanders into her path. And, in case you’re wondering, that category includes my daughter and two sons.
There’s nothing quite like trying to explain to your 3-year-old’s Early Intervention therapists or your aunt who isn’t crazy about animals that your dog doesn’t actually mean to knock your small child onto the floor or trip your toddler. And, of course, you can’t beat the experience of yelling at your 5-year-old to leave the Poodle alone because her pelvic gyrations have absolutely nothing to do with some adorable canine dance routine. You may have heard of awkward blind date moments, but they in no way compare to uncomfortable play date moments when a herd of preschool girls ask, “Why is the doggie grabbing onto Maria’s waist that way?”
That having been said, Isetta’s health has much improved since we first adopted her. So, we’re back in the proverbial saddle when it comes to pursuing surgery. Not only is it the best thing to do for Isetta; it will ideally re-insert a little calm into all our lives (and possibly spare us a visit from DCFS).
–Katie Marsico has written for Tails since 1999. In addition to contributing feature stories to the magazine, she now writes a weekly blog post for Tattle Tails, giving us a glimpse into her often funny and always chaotic life as mother, pet guardian, and writer.