A Big Package For A Little Chihuahua
Wednesday - June 17, 2009
One of my favorite things about being a veterinarian is meeting new puppies and seeing the animated faces of the children in tow. As the kids burst with excitement, the parents look nervous with trepidation. The questions are numerous, the answers overwhelming, but after all is said and done, the anxieties seem alleviated, if but for a moment.
The following story is true and definitely not for the faint of heart. The names and furry faces have been changed to protect the innocent. You have been forewarned.
Chibi, a 4-month-old male Chihuahua, arrived for his last set of vaccinations. He was accompanied in each of his previous visits by mom, dad and the kids. Today was no different. The appointment started with a review of the previous concerns by the family. The good news was that Chibi no longer cried and howled in the middle of the night, which indicated that he felt secure in his new surroundings. The bad news was that he still ate his poop (a topic to be featured in a future article). After the vaccinations were given, we discussed future visits which included a heartworm test at 6 to 7 months of age, and of course ... neutering. For those of you unfamiliar with the term neuter, it means to surgically remove the testicles. It’s a topic that seems to strike a chord with most men, and it was no different for Chibi’s dad.
“Doc, do we have to neuter Chibi?” said dad, with apprehension.
“No, it’s up to you and the family,” I replied.
“What are the advantages, I mean, why should we consider neutering my boy?”
“Well, if you’re not going to breed Chibi, then neutering him would prevent any unwanted pregnancies. It may also help with behavior issues since it would decrease testosterone levels.”
Silence. “What bothers you about the procedure?”
“I just feel weird if Chibi had nothing where his package should be.” Silence again.
I don’t think the kids understood or took interest in our conversation. They just continued to play rope tug with their little puppy. Mom, however, did raise an eyebrow. Did she understand her husband’s point of view, or was she contemplating neutering her husband as well? Hmmm.
“Doc, after we neuter my boy, can we replace the testicles with, you know ... fake ones?” asked Dad.
“Don’t be silly, honey,” chimed the mom. “There’s no such thing.”
“Well ...” I hesitated for a moment. Do I dare open the can of worms? “Actually there are prosthetic testicles. We call them neuticals.”
“That’s it! I want Chibi to get neuticals after he is neutered.”
Relief washed over Dad’s face. Then a wry smile appeared, and I knew what was coming next. Dad proceeded to explore the possibility of upgrading Chibi from Chihuahua sized “nuggets” to beagle or even golden retriever size. The conversation went all downhill from that point on as Dad pleaded his case.
As humans, we often anthropomorphize our feelings onto our pets. We try to make the best decisions on their behalf, but do we truly know how they feel? Chibi was a happy-go-lucky puppy enjoying the attention of his new family. Neuter - he didn’t understand the word. As far as Chibi knew, we were discussing walks in the park or appropriate treats for his voracious appetite. Chibi was oblivious to our conversation. He didn’t know it, but soon he would be taking a trip to the wild side and he’ll be packing a little extra something.
Pet Tips: After acquiring a new pet, make an appointment with your veterinarian to assess your new family member’s health.
Ask lots of questions when at your veterinary hospital. There are no silly questions and trust me, we’ve heard them all.
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