This Valentines Day, I walked to the convenience store around 8:00 p.m. in my pajama pants, ten dollars in hand. My mission: two pints of Ben & Jerry’s and a box of maxi pads. The store clerk, in an effort to hide his second-hand embarrassment, quickly stuffed my purchases in a bag with a sympathetic smile and said, “You have a nice night, and um, a happy Valentine’s Day…”
I wanted to shout, “It’s not for me!” but he wouldn’t believe me so I didn’t bother.
Because the pads weren’t for me. They were for my puppy. My poor little 7.5 month old lab Lily was having her first (and after I tell you what it entails, only) bout of heat. Growing up with a family dog, we’re often spared inconveniences like the costs and trips to the vet, or lugging huge bags of dog food home. Guess what we’re also spared? Dealing with the dog’s freaking period. Turns out, internet research, or reading a few dog books—does not do the reality of some experiences justice.
The second thing people say when they meet Lily (after admiring her charm and superior cuteness) is, “You’re fixing her right?” Between 6 months until first heat is advised for health reasons (see list at bottom of article), but our puppy trainer told us that she still had a little maturing to do. She is small for her age, so we should wait for her first heat. We settled on: when we get back from our trip we’ll spay her and hopefully “beat the heat,” so to speak.
Well, schedules non-permitting, a week before our trip we started noticing drops of blood everywhere and Lily’s mood had taken a dip. As a female, ahem, this isn’t exactly foreign to me, but my poor boyfriend turned pale as a ghost and was supremely uncomfortable.
“What are maxi pads, what do they look like?” he practically wailed. (Hence, why I was sent to buy the maxi pads.) We had to board her for for a week during our trip, so the dog boarders instructed us to pack maxi pads and added, “Make sure she brings her party pants!” Party pants=dog diapers and yes, they do exist in a wide range of colors and sizes. Only a dog-shaming photo will do them justice.
Lily’s are pink and akin, according to my mom, to “bikini bottoms.” That made me feel even worse for her, like I was a crazy Toddlers & Tiaras mother forcing my daughter to wear bronzer and string bikinis.
After this experience, here’s what to consider when assessing a time frame for neutering a female dog:
- Spayed dogs are less likely to develop breast cancer and will not be at risk for ovarian or uterine tumors.
- Spaying dogs combats the problem with pet overpopulation, which finds millions of dogs each year in shelters.
- The experience with heat can be very unpleasant (as told above), but can also create strong unpleasant odors and unwanted male dog attention. Your vixen of a pup will be “bringing boys to the yard” if you will.
- Heat can last as long as three weeks (imagine?!) about once every eight months.
- Some sources say 5-7 months is ideal, because liver and kidneys of too-young animals are much less mature than those of older animals and therefore less capable of tolerating the effects of anaesthetic drugs.
We get Lily back tomorrow. We were assured that she was not teased by the other dogs. They better not be, I don’t want to get all Toddlers & Tiaras on them.