Two in a bed and a lampshade on the head

It’s been a while since I shared a bed but here we were… If only he would stop tossing and turning and go to sleep. I kept ending up with my left side exposed as he (unintentionally I’m sure) hogged the bed covers, which, incidentally, are white and so were covered with his chest hairs by the morning. I think I got about four hours’ sleep. I guess it would’ve been easier if he hadn’t been wearing a lampshade on his head.

You see, I was sharing a bed with Bertie, my dog, a novelty for us both. His normal bedroom is in the laundry, and he is quite happy there. But on this occasion he was agitated, restless and a bit out of sorts. You can hardly blame him; he’d had the snip that morning and was clearly feeling the after-effects of the anaesthetic and the drugs, not to mention losing part of his anatomy.

How long do I have to wear this ridiculous Jane Austen bonnet on my head, Mum?

How long do I have to wear this ridiculous Jane Austen bonnet on my head, Mum?

I’d had him scheduled for castration last Christmas when he was nine months old. But, on doing my research, I learnt that testosterone is very beneficial for the bones, joints and muscles when a dog is developing and growing. So I cancelled at the last minute. The big drive to de-sex a male dog at six months is all about population control. But that’s not such an issue where I live: my courtyard is escape-proof but he’s anyway unlikely to pick up the scent of a female on heat as 99.9% of them have been spayed.

This Christmas – he’s now 20-months-old – I decided it was time to make my mind up for once and for all. And I decided to take the plunge. However small the risk, there’s now definitely no chance of Bertie hooking up with a girl and making babies, no chance of him getting testicular cancer later in life, less likelihood of him developing prostrate problems and some chance of him calming down a bit. Plus – and this was a bonus, not the deciding factor – the annual council registration fee reduces dramatically. A win-win, you could say.

So I was all ready to do the deed and to take this manhood-stripping decision on behalf of my beloved boy when I bumped into three dog owners sitting firmly in the non-castration camp the day before. Did I really need to get Bertie done, they asked? He didn’t seem to be displaying any of the troublesome testosterone-driven behaviours. They’d all been so glad they had left their dogs intact…. Just what I didn’t need! I wavered right up until the moment we walked into the vet’s at 8am the next morning.

Wavered and wept in fact! It’s scary handing your dog over to the surgeon’s knife. What if he didn’t pull through? What if he changed character and lost his mojo? What if? What if?! As it was he nearly pulled me over when I went to collect him that afternoon and walked him to the car. Even though he was agitated that first night, he was still up for chasing possums and rushing around whacking the walls (and my legs) with his Elizabethan collar. I’m still sporting some impressive bruises!

He was possibly a bit quieter those first few post-surgery days and we had to content ourselves with geriatric on-leash walks around the block, but I knew he was his old self when, even when encumbered by the plastic lampshade, he managed to pick up and steal my socks and run around the house until I chased him. Eight days later we had our first off-leash walk and Bertie ran around like a mad thing. Then at the weekend we went for a celebratory romp and swim on the beach.

But yesterday was our biggest adventure of all. I had arranged to have coffee with a lovely Italian friend (we met just recently when she stayed at my house with her sister as Airbnb guests) at one of the cafes in Fed Square. Now Cinzia knows I am devoted to my dog; she gave me a delightful blue mug “My Dog is my Best Friend” with pictures of paw prints and bones. So she thought it was a great idea to take Bertie for his first trip into the city and include him in on our catch-up.
He did bark at a wheelie suitcase on the train (perhaps it seemed like some kind of UFO to him) and then at the sparrows in Fed Square, but otherwise he behaved impeccably. Long may you live Bertie, my Bestie.

My first train trip

My first train trip

Watching for sparrows in Fed Square

Watching for sparrows in Fed Square


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