The last bloom; joining the land of the sterile

If there is a ray of sunlight, Jaz will find it
“Welcome back, Mrs. Sun!”

The sunglasses have come out, the grass has started to need weekly mowing, the birds are singing up a storm, pasty limbs are being exposed, and flowers and cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Spring has once again arrived in Vancouver, the only difference being that Jaz is no longer participating in the ritual, because Jaz got spayed. Yes, you read that right. The big ‘snip-snip.’ Jaz, officially, is no longer a she but an it. Jaz’s dad and I debated this decision for quite some time. There are several reasons as to why we decided to go ahead with it a few months ago, and I must say that I do not regret it.

The first reason we decided to have Jaz spayed is that Vancouver is not very un-spayed(/neutered)-dog-friendly. There are bylaws that prevent you from taking your bitch in heat off of your property. Now I’m not sure how all the people that live in tiny apartments do it (Are they supposed to lock these poor dogs up, not allowing them to see the sun or sniff the fresh air for a full month, forced to use a puppy pad in the corner?), but mostly having Jaz indoors with a little yard-time was tough for Jaz (not to mention us)! We did sneak Jaz outside and took her on some walks, but we had to be extra careful not just watch out for other dogs, but also for those pesky vans that say “city of Vancouver.” Moreover, nearly all daycare as well as boarding facilities will not take in un-spayed bitches over 12 months old, leaving one with very few options and having to sacrifice quality care over admission requirements. All these factors together make keeping an un-spayed bitch in metro Vancouver difficult.

The second reason we decided to spay her is that, although we enjoyed the showing, it was time to put down the leave-in conditioner and blowdryer for two reasons. Firstly, although Jaz enjoyed being in the ring (who wouldn’t, if it means getting hotdogs and liver sausage?!), and she tolerated the stripping, she did not appreciated all the additional primping that came with showing. You must realize that one only spends a few minutes in the ring on show-days, and that everything in between is endless washing, grooming and primping. Jaz doesn’t like taking baths, and really doesn’t like the blowdrying, applying of leave-in conditioner, more blowdrying, and endless combing that followed it. And secondly, although I enjoyed the grooming and showing, I did not enjoy witnessing some of the poor handling of the dogs, the over-competitiveness and the politics that came with it. Now I don’t mean to say that everyone participates in it, and that it is the same everywhere, but there was enough of it that it started to bother me. And that’s when you have to re-evaluate things. Maybe this wasn’t for us after all.

August 2012, at an outdoor dog show: “Oh no… she’s going to ‘fix’ my beard and fall again, isn’t she?!”

But the third and most important reason that helped us decide to spay Jaz was that we decided not to breed her. Although I love her, and I wouldn’t mind having a couple more of her, I wonder whether it would be the right thing to do. Jaz is a little fearful for a terrier, and she lacks pigment in her nose. Even if she was the perfect dog, and there would be no practical issues (which there are, because I wouldn’t want to send Jaz off to our breeder and miss her for two months, and I don’t have the resources nor the time to have a litter of puppies at our place), the fact remains that I am not a breeder, and I am not planning on becoming one. One should never breed just because it sounds like a fun idea. There is a lot of knowledge and skill required when breeding. Knowledge and skill I do not have. I’m more the nosey, slightly breed-obsessed pet-owner. In order to breed, one has to really know about genetics, the specific breed, as well as the individual dogs and their ancestors to make good decisions about who should be bred and why.

So we made the appointment. And all was said and done so quickly… [Note: because I requested he preserved Jaz’s furnishings as much as possible, our vet only shaved a tiny piece of fur on the inside of Jaz’s rear leg to put the IV in, so we wouldn’t have to stare at a sad chunk of missing fur that would take 6 months to grow back in!] Jaz walked around with a funny donut on her head for a while. She grew to love it, as it turned out to be great to rest your head on. We tried to follow the vet’s advice and make sure Jaz took it easy for the first two weeks, although this turned out to be quite the challenge. After 3 days Jaz was almost back to her energetic self, and stopping an enthusiastic dog from being enthused is no small task!

A few months ago: Jaz, still high from the medication, getting used to her donut.

Yes, we now have a dog that can no longer be shown or bred. But there are so many any other things we still can do, such as rally-o, dog sports, and agility. All of which I hope to try at some point this summer! We do not regret our decision one bit (and I don’t think Jaz does either; she despised wearing her girl-pants 😉 ). Since the spaying, we have noticed that Jaz has calmed down quite a bit, and is doing much better in training now that the hormone-levels have balanced out. It’s easier for her to focus and stay focussed. And it is also a huge relief that she can go to the daycare and boarding place that we like the best… Everybody wins. And although Jaz may no longer get to ‘bloom’ twice a year, she continues to blossom more and more each day.

“Let’s try some agility, mom!”