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.