In June this year an eight-week-old, red and tan kelpie pup came into our home and so ended life as we’d previously known it.

We named him Curly Sullivan (long story) and promptly fell head over heels in love.

Long stretches of time were spent staring in wonderment at Curly sleeping, Curly yawing, Curly going to the toilet, Curly attempting to make friends with Coco the cat (no joy) and Curly creating havoc in our previously well-ordered and spotless home.

You’d think I’d given birth to him myself going by the number of photos I was (am) taking and my Facebook wall now exists primarily as a Curly Sullivan fan page: look how cute he is yawning, how adorable he is in this blue stripe jumper, in his new Driza Bone, herding the sheep (all three of them), blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.

I thought my friends would have staged a Curly intervention by now but apparently you can never post too many pictures of a cute dog. Sadly, our cat never got this much attention.

To my great surprise, I love his smell (dog), let him lick me, and have not had a nervous breakdown because he has taken over my favourite arm chair, scratched virtually every one of our lovely limed and polished floorboards and is systematically destroying a new, hand-woven floor rug that I was given for my birthday.

It seems that where this dog is concerned, there is no limit to my love and tolerance – and, to be honest, I believed his nutso behaviour would be a phase that would be cut short by the cutting off of his, well, nutsos (that and some sessions with a dog psychologist).

I’ve always believed desexing to be the cornerstone of responsible dog ownership (why else would the council give you a discount on registration for desexed dogs?) but apparently some people (okay, some men) don’t agree.

Bring up the subject and you’d think their ‘nads were next.

A dear friend with whom I rarely disagree equates desexing to playing god and, in a textbook French put down, even said it was petit-bourgeois.


His is a visceral objection: humans shouldn’t intervene in an animal’s sexuality; that we do it only for our own benefit in order to control the animal and make our lives easier.

There is nothing in it for the dog, he says. “Let dogs be what they are. Stop deciding for them what is best.”

Well, of course. Why didn’t I think of handing over all the decision-making to a dog who considers cat shit the ultimate treat, or chasing, catching and subsequently almost choking on bees the ultimate sport.

Others worry about desexing for different reasons: that the dog will get fat (only if you feed them too much and exercise them too little – sound familiar?) or that the dog will lose its masculinity because of the loss of testosterone.

Many farmers worry that desexing will reduce the male’s drive to herd, guard and work. I’ll remember to tell Curly that the next time he comes back from herding packs of seven-foot kangaroos off our vineyard because they’re eating the new shoots (did I mention that he’s very clever?).

No amount of argument on the pros of neutering will convince an anti-desexing believer, including the fact that more than 250,000 unwanted dogs and cats are put down in this country alone every year. I’ll bet you that most of these are the result of accidental breeding by unneutered dogs.

There are compelling health reasons for desexing as well: in male dogs, it prevents testicular tumours and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, perianal tumours and hernias.

And, yes, the procedure does alter a dog’s personality – reducing aggression and the likelihood of your attacking or fighting. Is that bad?

Last, but certainly not least, desexed males are less likely to mark their territory, stray from home looking for some action or, failing that, dry hump your leg.

Given that Curly Sullivan had already developed an unnatural and somewhat obsessive relationship with my partner’s leg, don’t try to tell me that’s not a good thing.



*Caroline Roessler is an editor, author and journalist with more than 15 years experience editing women’s magazines. She was editor of Notebook: magazine and has held senior positions on publications including The Australian Women’s Weekly, New Idea, NW and Australian Country Style. Most recently, Caroline was founding editor of The Hoopla. After many years in Sydney, she moved back to South Australia with her partner, journalist Donna Reeves, to run a small vineyard in the Barossa Valley. Although she loves to drink wine, she has no idea how to make it, so tends to spend her time on more familiar pursuits, such as writing, gardening, renovating and her and Donna’s latest adventure, a website called We Recommend (coming soon). Visit the Facebook page here or follow @werecommendweb on Twitter.


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  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Tell your male friend to visit an abandoned animals shelter, tell him to watch the pitiful stir-crazy behaviour of dogs that have been dumped, tell him to inject the green goo in a dog that can’t be rehoused, and then ask him whether he still thinks “humans shouldn’t intervene in an animal’s sexuality”.

    • Reply November 1, 2012



  • Reply November 1, 2012


    We love our 9 year old Rosie, who was already deserved when we adopted her from the Lost Dog’s Home about 8 and and a half years ago. The only reason I’d thought whether it would have been good not for her to be desexed immediately is that I wondered have been kind to allow her to have one litter (although as she is a – extremely beautiful – bitser, we’d need to make sure we had homes for the pups first). However, she came before our two kids, and when they were babies, especially our son who is our oldest, she treated him to some degree as a surrogate pup – not quite to the degree of Nanna in Peter Pan, but approaching this. She guarded his bedroom door when he slept, was on the lookout for anyone in the street who might pose a threat, and was careful to ensure that any food he dropped was left for him (and did, when he was older, sneak in to sleep at the end of his bed). So I felt her maternal instincts were satisfied,and at the same time, no risks of unwanted pregnancies, dogs trying to get in while she was on heat, etc – what a nightmare that would have been!

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    We have two dogs, adopted from an animal rescue organisation. The rescuer was at a council pound photographing dogs for a website when a womon came to the pound with our dogs heavily pregnant mother. She was surrendering the dog to have her euthanised as she was fed up with her getting pregnant (yeah right, it’s the dog’s fault!). Thankfully the rescuer took her home, where she whelped 10 puppies that evening. Our dogs and their mother were very lucky – so many other dogs (and cats) are not so fortunate and die every day because of irresponsible pet owners. Please people, if you’re not a registered dog breeder, get your dogs (and cats) desexed.

    PS. Our pups were desexed by the rescuer before we were able to take them home.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    I have to agree with your friend. I have a perfectly healthy, non-agreesive, non-humping dog with balls. To use the excuse that cutting your own dogs nuts off will reduce the amount of animals on death row is ridiculous – it’s your dog and if you are confident of looking after him properly there is absolutely no need to go down the chopping path.

    • Reply November 1, 2012


      Glen – not ridiculous at all. The majority of strays in shelters and pounds are undesexed. They wander because they have ‘urges’. And they breed like rabbits – I have worked in pounds and the number of unwanted, dumped litters is heartbreaking. That figure of 250,000 cats and dogs euthanised annually, cited by the article’s author, is correct. Look it up on Google..

    • Reply November 1, 2012


      Glen – Testicular Cancer, read up on that. Its horrible. The dog next door who wasnt de-sexed got it. Blood pouring out his penis it looked like someone had been stabbed. He was in pain when he urinated. I would hate to put my own dog through that.

    • Reply November 2, 2012


      Glen, check out “Insight” on SBS. 90% of cats and over 50% of dogs are put to sleep by the RSPCA every year – because their owners were iresponsible and do not get their pets desexed.

      By the way, read put to sleep as “killed”, this is a very serious situation and shows that too many owners are not responsible.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    I adore my dog Tess who is a ten year old kelpie who looks just like Curly Sullivan exceot with grey hairs on her head and snout. They are wonderful dogs, and so smart. Sometimes I have a twinge that I desexed her and haven’t got any of her puppies which would have been gorgeous but on balance I think its the responsiblel thing to do.By the way the energy of a kelpie lasts well into their middle age!

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    All our 4 pets are rescue animals and all desexed. I’ve often looked at them and thought what great mothers they would have been and how cute their litters would have been. However, this doesn’t outweigh the reality for the many left behind at the shelter that we couldn’t take home. And that’s just the one shelter we go to. To say it interferes with their natural instincts ignores the fact that we actively discourage and/or prevent some of their other ‘natural instincts’ such as catching and killing their own prey so apparently we can do it when it suits us; I think for some people – not all – this is just a smokescreen for not making the commitment and/or spending the money. It’s too easy not to act because ultimately it’s someone else who has to deal with the consequences. Also, let’s not confuse ‘sexuality’ with ‘the ability to reproduce’. They’re quite different things.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    The pro / con nutering debate really comes down to the humans that dogs end up with. There are those who give their animals the duty of care, and maintain total responsibility for them in every way, in which case, unwanted pregnancy, destructive behaviour etc can be prevented, the reality is however, that there is a large number of animal owners, who are not as responsible for a raft of excuses or reasons, and for those dogs, cats etc who end up in their hands, they are probably better off desexed to ensure that they or their offspring are not at medical or life risk as a result. Look on the trading post at the number of accidental puppies, staffy x poodle, or labrador x fox terrier, don’t laugh, it happens, and it’s not right.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    I had this discussion with a neighbor some years ago. He was reluctant to have the family’s male Labrador desexed because it would “spoil his fun” . I pointed out to him that the dog wasn’t going to get much “fun” trapped in his own back yard, and quite unable to follow his masculine instincts apart from on human legs.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Males that are so against de-sexing of male dogs should maybe read up on Testicular Cancer. Maybe they would think twice if their beloved “manly” un-desexed dog got stuck down with it.
    I dont get some males thinking, gees if they are that worried, they can get little balls put in the sacks to replace what is taken out.
    Then there is with the female dogs who then get “accidently” impregnated by a male “un-desexed” dog that has jumped the fence.
    Then there is more unwanted animals that are just dumped into shelters.
    Pet owners need to be responsible dont breed get your animals de-sexed.

  • Reply November 1, 2012

    Aeron Winters

    We have two female and one male moggie, a male beagle and a female maltese and all have had the chop. None of them had any personality change after the surgery. None of them are fat…because they are not over fed and they get lots of exercise. The cats have lots of toys and climbing trees to keep them fit and the dogs walk a couple of kms a day with me. Desexing is just part of being a responsible pet owner. I should also mention that we had to search around to find a vet who would perform the surgery on our beagle because he has a heart murmer that makes anesthesia a risk, but with the correct surgical and post-operative care, he came through with flying colours and is still his same old goofball self.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Aren’t humans and some apes the only animals that actually have sex for recreation/fun/good feeling? The whole rationale that dogs will ‘not have fun’ anymore is just more us projecting human personalities onto them, than the reality of an animal with powerful instincts.

  • Reply November 1, 2012

    Caroline Roessler

    Good point, Sarah. Who knows if dogs enjoy sex? Though Curly does look pretty happy when he’s humping your leg.
    And, Kris, on the subject of prosthetic testicles… our vet told us that her sister wants to desex her Rhodesian Ridgeback but is concerned what he’d look like sans balls. She’s considering getting him implants… hilariously there’s one company that produces them that is called Neuticals.

    • Reply November 1, 2012


      Yeah Caroline I saw a story on one of the shows on tv, a guy with a bulldog was concerned about his dog not looking manly in that department & had them inserted. There is even different sizes. When they were in, you couldnt tell the difference.
      I had a Pyrenean who were were showing, but as soon as we stopped showing him, we had him desexed. But all my other animals are done as soon as they are old enough.
      It’s amazing what they can do now days especially prosthetic testicles – who would of ever thought ?

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Desexing a dog or a cat should be a priority for any responsible pet owner.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    You can’t let a dog decide what’s best for them – that’s why humans have dogs, not the other way around. Can the dog get a job to support the numerous offspring? Your friend is crazy! If she has kids I’ll bet they are those horid out of control ones that everyone tries to avoid

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Playing God my foot. God has nothing to do with it. Might as well ask can a dog be raped. Answer yes.

    I have two border collies that I walk x amount of ks a day – sometimes 10 sometimes 4 maybe 6 depending. They walk all over and the mileage is actually what I walk not what they walk. They are mother and daughter, both desexed by friendly, compassionate vet and we need fear no neighbourhood bully dog butting in and ruining things.

    We love them dearly. I donate to RSPCA regularly.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Thanks for raising this issue Caroline. I suggest people who are opposed to desexing read some of the links on As for the idea of ” let them have one litter” : what on earth for?

    So as to add a dozen or so puppies to the kill list at pounds.!!
    The 250K kill figure is a VERY conservative measure.

    Rhonda, I’m sere you mean well by donating to the rspca, but please be aware that they have a history of killing dogs of certain breads ( including dogs who are well known for their suitability as family pets, such asGerman Shepherds) and killing dogs who don’t pass their so called ” temperament test” ( many dogs don;t because they are very stressed in the shelter environment or may have just come from a troubled situation but given a chance and a little time, will settle down). Some of the well- known animal charities have higher kill rates than council pounds notorious for the high number of dogs killed
    ( at one point for instance, a rescue contact told me that AWL was killing more animals than Blacktown pound)

    With a private animal rescue group, a very high proportion of donated funds go towards actually helping the animals; check out rescue links on for a list of private rescue groups

    Caroline ,Congratulations on your beautiful boy … what a cutie. Wish you all many years of love, fun and adventures together.

  • Reply November 2, 2012


    Oh Curly. Poodle I once knew(named Mister) did not stop enjoying a wank after being “desexed” nor did he enjoy his trip to the groomer. Last night, I dreamt of my darling old girl Meli who was a staffie/kelpie cross. A disturbing dream. In life, she would shake in the vet’s waiting room until that last time. Ah..when she and I and the vets were ready..crying times.xx

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