Just wanted to blog a quickie whilst a consult I did this evening was fresh in my mind. You could look upon the consult in two ways - either (if you're feeling charitable) it gave me an interesting perspective on how people view their animals, or (if you're not) it sent me into further despair about the future of humanity (maybe it's something of a relief that it doesn't look like we've got much of one)
I was seeing a dog out this evening after his castrate. The consult hadn't got off onto the best start when the owner (who I will refrain from describing because I don't want to predjudice anything. Let's just say she was 'dog rough', and leave it at that) was a bit aggrieved that I suggested we might have to charge her for the special shampoo I suggested to cure her dog of its potential fatal skin condition that I had diagnosed during the procedure (I didn't dare charge her for the skin scrape!)
'I haven't got that kind of money, what you doin', tryin' to rob me?' was the general gist of her reasons for not wanting the twenty-quid bottle of shampoo. (along with the polite 'Where the fuck did he get those fuckin' mites from, then?')
That's when we got onto the castrate. I explained that her puppy should have a light meal tonight, as he might feel a little sick after his anaesthetic.
(How the fuck am I supposed to cook fuckin' rice without a cooker, eh?)
Moving on, I explained where the wound was, and how although her dog's scrotum would look a bit peculiar now it was empty, it would all shrink down over the next few months.
'Erm...I'm just saying, it will all shrink down, and look very normal in a few months.'
'Are you telling me you've cut his bollocks off?'
(My turn with the long pause)
(slightly nervous at this point)'Well, he was in today to be castrated, wasn't he?'
'Yeah, but I didn't think you'd cut his balls off as well!'
Now, at this point, dear readers, I wasn't really sure what else to say. My gaze moved to the consent form for her dog, which she had signed, right under the words 'Dog Castrate'. The owner was now in a state of some consternation, huffing and swearing, and muttering 'I don't believe it.' I decided to go for the scientific approach.
'Erm...can I ask you what you think castration is?'
'It's the snip, innit? His tubes. Don't fuckin' believe it!'
'Um...no, I think you're thinking of a vasectomy. Castration is...well, removing the testicles.' Distressingly, I caught myself gesturing to my own crotch, as if this would somehow help to illustrate the procedure. Thankfully, the owner distracted me before I got too much further.
'Well, that's great, he's gonna attack all the other dogs now, isn't he?'
I didn't really follow the logic there, so I resorted to 'What?'
'He's gonna be jealous, isn't he? Lookin' at himself, and then seeing them with their balls hanging out, he's gonna kick right off, innee?'
It slowly dawned on me that the owner genuinely believed her dog was going to have such a self-image problem that he was going to take out it's anger and frustration on other dogs.
'I...um...dogs don't really think that way, to be honest.'
'Are you saying my dog is stupid?'
This is the point where my last, faint hope for humankind waved it's little white flag. Several minutes, and lots of swearing (only slightly on my part) finally convinced my owner that her poor puppy was not going to develop some kind of castrato-complex*, and that castrated dogs tended to be less aggressive than uncastrated. Somehow, I managed to survive the rest of the consultation without getting thumped, and even managed to get a 'Thanks' from the owner. We might even convince her to get her dog treated for that potentially fatal skin condition, if we're really lucky...
And that is my story. Bit too early to have much of a point to it, other than I wanted to write it down before my brain rejected it as too strange to be true. If there's a lesson to this tale, I suppose it might be this - if you need a surgical procedure, make sure you know what it is before you sign on the dotted line. Not much of a moral, I know, but what do you want from me? I'm a vet, not a philosopher (though I am occasionally a reluctant social worker too)
*(which, it occurs to me as I type, opens on to another issue, slightly less flippant and so not really belonging in this blog - is it justifiable to mutilate an individual of a species, for the good of the species as a whole? My honest answer is yes, I believe it is - I've seen too many unwanted puppies and kittens get euthanased or suffer to even slightly think otherwise - but I'm not blind to the fact that being neutered is a stressful and unpleasant thing to go through, and given the choice dogs and cats probably wouldn't go for it - I mean, a good way to add eight years to my own life would be to get castrated, but you don't see me lining up for it, do you? Anyway, I digress....maybe the subject for another blog, that one)