Monday, September 19, 2016

the unkindest cut of all

I am not the best person to invite to a birthday party.

My greatest failing as a birthday guest is that I seldom bring a gift. And I am not certain which is worse -- failing to bring a gift or to bring a gift as bad as Maleficent's.

Barco celebrated his first birthday last week (he is an adult -- not). And, in true Steve Cotton style, I brought nothing to the party. Well, I brought the cake, the candle, and the party hats. But no gift.

I made up for it today. In the spirit of the classic Gary Larson cartoon, I took Barco to the veterinarian this morning to get tutored. Let's call it the gift that keeps on giving.

There is a very good argument that I should have had him neutered months ago. I just did not get around to it.

For that, I have paid a price. During the past couple of weeks, he has discovered girls. All of his female dog friends (perras, in Spanish) now need to be extremely cautious. He has gone from play-fighting to slipping in that special wrestling hold reserved for fathering puppies.

The testosterone has also poisoned that part of his brain that once let him distinguish which dogs could turn him into chopped meat. A month ago, every dog was his friend. Recently, every male dog is a potential enemy who needs a good talking-to along with a doggy thrashing.

Of course, I could have avoided all of that had I had him "fixed" months ago -- before the testosterone reservoir burst through its weir. The reason I didn't is easy to understand -- I was simply being sentimental. I can hardly write the word castration without feeling a bit queasy.

My Mexican neighbors and friends have been unanimous in their disbelief that I would do such a thing to my dog. Most of them understand spaying. But castration? Not on my watch.

I dropped him off this morning with Dr. Andres. This afternoon, I returned to pick up a very groggy dog, who could have given a drunken sailor a stagger for his money.

For the first time in nine months, he tried to climb into the car on his own. He was determined to get away from the vet's office as quickly as he could.

When we got back into the house, he looked at me as if to say: "Whatever it was I did, I am really, really sorry." But that remorse lasted about one second. He headed straight to the pool, and was in it before I could fish him out. He is not supposed to get his stitches wet for a week.

So, here we are. I am at the computer. He is asleep at my feet (something he never does). And what was once a very arrogant dog is now doing his best impression of a post-surgery patient.

In a week, I should have an idea if the red tide of testosterone has been brought under control.

By the way, if you invite me to your birthday party, I promise to bring an equally appropriate gift.

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