Spoiler alert: This post has nothing to do with sex, male chastity, or spanking. It is about adding a puppy to our family. Back to our main subject later.
Yes, I realize this is a sex blog. Sometimes I need to go off script for a while. We are close to bringing home a new golden retriever puppy. We are scheduled to pick her up next Friday. She is extremely cute. Because of the tragic way we lost Daisy, I’m very sensitive to avoid any chance of our new dog suffering from bad hips, knees, eyes, and heart. Daisy’s hips were inoperable, and her knees were bad too. Ultimately, the pain these problems caused her forced us to put her down. The defects were inoperable. Our pet health insurance would have paid for any reconstructive surgery, but none was possible.
As you might imagine, we don’t want that to happen again. Willow’s breeder said that her sire and dam are both certified to be free of these problems. So far, the breeder hasn’t provided proof of this. As much as we both love her, I’m not sure I can go through with taking her without these documents. I’m not sure we won’t take her anyway.
I’ve been researching when to spay a dog. When Daisy was a pup, the vet said that six months of age was the right time. I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided to research when we should spay Willow. Most sources say six months. I went to the American Kennel Club (AKC) website to look for guidance. They have a webpage on this topic (Link). It points to a study done in Germany last year that found a difference in the recommendation depending on the breed of the dog (Link). They studied thousands of dogs and came up with startling results.
It turns out that there is a significant difference in the ultimate health depending on if and when neutering takes place. The study breaks it down by breed and sex. For example, an intact (not spayed) female Golden Retriever had a 4% chance of joint disorders. Females spayed at six months or less had an 18% chance, and six to eleven months 11%. Intact females had a 5% chance of cancer. Spayed at six months or less 18% and six to eleven months 11%. You get the idea. Clearly, spaying is very risky for the goldens of both sexes.
This is new information. The AKC Canine Health Foundation considers it very important. It flies in the face of long-held beliefs. In fact, where we live, a dog license for a spayed female is $15 and an intact one $60. Other sources suggest that not spaying female golden retrievers increases their chance of cancer. This is obviously incorrect.
The study recommends leaving female goldens intact. Spaying as late as 18 months still significantly increases the risk of cancer and urinary incontinence. The AKC cites another study done on mixed breed dogs. There are similar results for them. Apparently, the size of the dog is a factor. Small dogs don’t seem as prone to issues due to neutering.
Mrs. Lion and I had planned on spaying Willow at six months. Obviously, that’s not going to happen now. We are considering doing it between a year to eighteen months. I’m not sure that makes sense either. One source suggested just removing the uterus and leaving the ovaries intact. There is no evidence that this helps solve the problem.
ethical and moral issues
I can’t help feeling guilty that we contributed to Daisy’s painful problems. Her spaying had to contribute significantly to her joint problems. Out of ignorance, we hurt her. I realize that the information didn’t become known until she was eight. Still, I’m partly responsible. I also realize that there are dogs that need homes living in shelters. I searched the web pages for shelters in our part of the world. I guess we are lucky that so many people are willing to adopt dogs. Almost all of the dogs were pit bull mixes. I want a dog like Daisy.
We met Willow’s mother. She is a wonderful, sweet dog. I got to spend a lot of time with her. The breeder is apparently an ethical person who has been doing breeding for several years. She isn’t a professional. In one way, that’s very good. She loves the mother and pups. She spends a lot of time with them. The puppies are obviously well socialized. All of this is good news.
Willow is a very expensive puppy. The price is in line with other Golden Retrievers on the AKC marketplace website. All breeders on this site are approved members of the AKC. In the ads for puppies, the AKC has the breeders answer questions. The answer that most concerns me is: “The applicable health screens have been performed on the sire and dam as recommended by the Parent Club for this breed.” In the case of golden retrievers, it includes knees, hips, hearts, and eyes. The breeder indicated this was done. I asked for copies of the results of this screening for both parents. So far, I haven’t received them.
The main reason I was willing to dip into our savings for a puppy is that I don’t want to watch our best friend suffer like Daisy. I’m not interested in a “health guarantee.” There is no way we would return a dog after living with us for a year or more. Besides studying both parents, there is no way to know if a seven-week-old puppy will develop joint disease. What do we do if we can’t get the vet reports on the parents?
We both think Willow is cute and wonderful. Her mother is a very sweet dog. Still, there is a large financial and emotional investment when we bring a puppy into our home. Mrs. Lion and I discussed this, and we decided that we will ask for our deposit back and look for another puppy if we can’t get the reports. I’m hoping this won’t be necessary.
Adopting a puppy is like adopting a child. She will be part of our family. We have to mix compassion with the hard reality that once we commit to a pup, she will be with us as long as she lives. We want her to be happy and healthy. I can’t face losing another dog the way we lost Daisy.
I’m happy to report that Willow’s mother and father both passed OFA certification for hips and elbows. Her mother wasn’t tested for heart and eyes (both part of the golden retriever standard). We went back in the records and found that her grandparents passed all tests. That means we will be bringing Willow home on Friday!