Are you a cultural conformist? A few days ago, I would have answered, NO! But after reading this book, I realized, I have succumbed to the cultural demands and mantras regarding dogs.
Our two-year-old Beagle-Maltese starting marking his territory, inside the house, and we figured time to get him “fixed.” Before we made the appointment, the thought occurred to me, I should check this book sitting in my to-be-read pile and see what it has to say about neutering dogs.
Yup, there’s a chapter on that, and so I skipped right to it and imagine my surprise when I read that while spaying and neutering dogs does save millions of unwanted animals from dying unnecessarily in shelters, altering your dog and denying him of essential sex hormones could end his life prematurely. But what about marking and humping, you know, those “undesirable” traits that we’ve been taught as a culture can easily be resolved by castrating your dog? I felt like an idiot when I read (what I really already knew down in my core) that a dog can be trained to behave appropriately. If a dog is exhibiting undesirable behaviors, look to his person in charge.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Kerasote does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the issue. There are benefits to spaying and neutering, but these are NOT the only options if your reason for altering your dog is merely birth control. There are other procedures that can accomplish this – tubal ligation and vasectomy just to name two.
The essential sex hormones can help protect your dog from cancers and orthopedic injuries. “In North America, hemangiosarcoma is the leading cause of death for Golden Retrievers, a good reason to think carefully before spaying or neutering a dog from this breed” (page 340).
There’s also a chapter on immunizations. Yes, your dogs need to be immunized, but do they need all of those shots every single year? Studies are finding that many of the immunizations actually last much longer than originally thought, and giving your dog unnecessary immunizations can eventually comprise his health. And if you never board your dog in a facility with a large number of dogs and never take your dog to dog shows, why are you having him receive bordetella and coronavirus shots which prevent kennel cough?
I was highly impressed with the content of this book, but I was also very impressed with Kerasote’s ability to weave technical and medical information into the writing without boring me out of my mind. Kerasote doesn’t just tell us what experts he interviewed and the information gleaned from them, but he also describes what that expert looked like, what he or she wore, and where they sat during the interview. Kerasote takes us on the journey with him.
This is the first book by Ted Kerasote I’ve read. I highly recommend it, and I am looking forward to reading his other books as well.
If you love dogs at all, even an ounce, this is a must read book.
What are you reading?