Thursday, March 22, 2012

A spay, of compliments, and a tooth

I just returned from picking up Tess - she is officially “Spayed”.

It was part of the agreement with her breeder that she would be spayed. It was the right thing to do. No matter how good of a performance record, or temperament she has, she will never be the color she needs to be to excel in the show world. And you know what? That’s OK. One thing I REALLY like about the Brittany breed is the focus on “Dual Champions”. While so many breeds have split  into “show lines” and “working lines”, Brittany’s have continued to focus on a breed that can excel at both. And while that wonderful dogs like Tess don’t get to contribute to the breed genetically, there’s plenty that she’s doing for the breed’s reputation locally - even spayed. And now, when someone approaches me and asks if I’ve ever considered breeding my dog, I can say, a bit regretfully, that she is spayed, but that I know of a breeder that does breed incredible Brittany’s that excel both in the field and as companions in the home. (There’s a whole debate about purebreds, and breeding - a debate that I’ve actually switched sides on recently - but that’s for another post. ). And apparently, most Brittany’s that people see in public and in vet clinics aren’t nearly as “companionable” as Tess is.

I’ve had many people tell me over the last couple weeks when they see Tess out in public how “calm” she is. I kind of brushed the comments off since I’m fully aware of her athletic capabilities and attributed it to her wearing her vest, or that we had done nose work or agility earlier in the day. She has certain mental and physical needs that I understand need to be fulfilled before she is capable of being obedient and fit to be in public. I think it finally clicked that maybe Tess IS unusual for a Brittany when the vet’s office told me in the morning how calm she was, and then when I picked her up in the afternoon remarked how utterly “un-stressed” she was about being in the clinic. They told me the joke is when they get a Brittany in that they never-ever stop moving and spinning.

It’s more than just the “fulfillment of physical and mental” needs. A large part of it is good breeding - the breeder I got her from breeds field trial dogs that are foremost companions in the home. I may have programmed the “off” button, but the button had to be there in the first place! It’s also the fact that she gets to be my almost constant companion every day. Going to school is a lot like being in a vet clinic - there’s a ton of other people, dogs, smells, and CONFUSION. In the home room where she’s kenneled there’s dog barking and playing and being crazy right outside her kennel. Thus, going into a strange place, being put into a kennel, and asked to hang out for a day wasn’t any big deal. I’m very lucky in my situation that allowed me to socialize and habituate her to a wide range of situations, but I’m also very lucky that I chose the breeder I did!

So, I’m going to start accepting those compliments! Tess is a special girl - I just didn’t know how special - and being my first dog, we really can’t chalk it up to any kind of superior training or some sort of perfect socialization program. Nope, I just got lucky and ended up with EXACTLY the dog I was suppose to!! Looking at her, I can’t believe I was “suppose” to end up with one of her brothers, or that when I looked at the puppy pictures I was so glad the white one was a girl so I didn’t have to worry about ending up with the ugly one.

Or that after cautiously agreeing to take her once we knew she wasn’t deaf, shortly before I was going to pick her up breeder was afraid that personality-wise this maybe wasn’t going to work with what I wanted to do after all - that she was too independent. But then she started to be sweet and a little more people-focused so I got her after all.

Back to the Spay. I admit that I’ve been a bit worried about the whole spay thing. I do consider it major surgery, even it it’s routine. I paid an extra $100 to have a blood panel done before hand - the orange/white color and the excessive white are both recessive, and there’s a whole host of nasty organ diseases and platelet disorders that would be a not-so-wonderful-surprise to find out about during  spay (everything was just fine). I couldn’t remember my phone number when I dropped her off in the morning (fortunately they had it in the computer). It went just fine and when I picked her up she was dopey but alert enough to walk out to the car, recognize me etc. Once I got home I felt that she was really uncomfortable. Kept getting up, couldn’t find a position laying down, would refuse to lay down until she was swaying with grogginess, and making little grunting, whining sounds when she moved when she was laying down. Finally I couldn’t stand it and I gave her Tramadol I had left over from her whole tooth thing earlier in the year. She much more drugged now and I’m much happier. :)

Ah yes - the tooth thing. I was suspicious of the permanent tooth that come in after the baby tooth had been knocked out - but wasn’t’ sure if the discoloration I could see was because of the antibiotic use during that time frame or something more sinister. While Tess was out, I asked the vet to recheck it. The discoloration on the inside of the molar is a slab fracture that doesn’t go into the pulp or the gum. The vet said that most dogs have no problems with it - the most common cause for slab fractures is chewing on something really hard. Apparently, when Harley knocked out Tess’s baby tooth, she also applied enough force to crack the adult tooth coming in. It’s also possible that Tess did crack it chewing something since she’s a HUGE chewer, but if so it’s a huge coincidence that she cracked the same tooth, as it was coming in, as had been injured…..

My friends in the classes above me assure that animals bounce back from surgery amazingly fast and I will be very happy tomorrow - but for right now it’s hard to see Tess miserable (less so since I drugged her to the gills!). It’s the first time I’ve left the room and she hasn’t gotten up to follow me.

You’ll have to excuse me if this post is a little sickly-sweet. My girl has turned one year of age, had a major surgery, and proved herself yesterday during her first ever execution of her service dog duties in a “real” situation. Seriously - 10 months of puppyhood was TOTALLY worth the dog I got out of it!!!!!!!


  1. You're so lucky to have only 10 months of puppyhood! ;) But yeah, she's an exceptional spaniel/pointer, and a tribute to your breeder and your own hard work.

    Would love to hear your thoughts about show champions, when you get ready to articulate them. I am pretty down on them at the moment. But it's like breeding a horse, it's a hugely complicated issue, so I'm not totally close-minded.

  2. Let's here it for the joys of a 30 pound dog - extra years in life span and shorter puppyhood!

    I'll put the whole purebred thing into a post soon. I used to be very anti purebred, but over the last 5 years or so have REALLY come to see a value in purpose bred purebreds. Vet school, if anything has only strengthened that view.


  3. Glad to see that she is bouncing back, and she will soon be running your life again!

  4. I think one of the most suprising things, being first time dog owner, was how Tess refused to be pushed to the sidelines of my life - she has to be front and center. So yes "running my life" is very appropriate!