It has been a big week for my two puppies. Really, I shouldn't even call them puppies any more. Especially not Banner, who turned one year old today.
It was a momentous occasion for both of us, since it marked the date at which he could finally be neutered.
The understanding with his breeder was that each of us purchasing a puppy would wait until that one-year-old birthday before having the dog spayed or neutered. Like almost everything else surrounding good canine care, the debate about altering dogs can get pretty heated. I tend to fall on the side of the camp which argues that late is better than early. Recent research seems to indicate that dogs altered too young are at increased risks of health complications ranging from joint problems to aggressive cancers. There is also a vociferous contingent which swears that dogs who are spayed or neutered too young aren't fully developed mentally, either.
I'm not making any claims on that one. But regardless, it seems like one year old is the best policy, and so right on schedule, my boy Banner had a major life change.
Scotch had a major change of his own this morning, although not quite to the extent of his brother. At only eight months old, Scotch isn't quite ready for that fateful tutoring assignment at the vet clinic. However, his coat has also never before been clipped. Most of this travesty was due to the Coronavirus situation. Just as his coat got to the point where it was needing to be trimmed for the first time, the economy shut down, taking dog groomers with it. Once things began to open up again, there was a long queue in front of Scotch when I called to set up his first hair cut.
We finally got there today. He went in like a woolly lamb, totally shaggy and more than totally confused. He came out a sleek retriever with only a hint of waviness in his shorn coat. The only curls left were on his face and ears.
Notwithstanding that the groomer said he had been, and I quote: "perfect," it was still a little traumatic for both of us. Scotch has never known himself with anything but soft, curly hair, and for that matter, neither have I. For him it meant shaking himself vigorously and often, partly, I think, because the hair left long on his ears tickled the almost-bare skin of his neck and shoulders. For me, it was almost like meeting a new dog. He certainly doesn't feel like Butterscotch.
I must have been inspired, though, because after Scotch got home today, I marched out to the corrals and gave Mocha her own annual hair cut. One thing I love about Mocha is that she is a long-haired donkey, whereas most of them come in shorter coats. And I do like hair! Still, the downside is that her coat sheds every summer, and rather than blowing itself off neatly, it mats into clumps and dreadlocks instead. The best way to handle it is to slap a halter on her, snub her up to a post, and go wild with the scissors while keeping a steady stream of commentary and apple treats pointed in her direction. Job done. And everybody now is much cooler and cuter.