Coco was spayed today. This decision was a long time coming. (She’s three years old.) We spay/neuter all of our cats and dogs. (I repeat this frequently due to the frequent comments I get saying something along the lines of, “Why do you have so many cats? Stop having kittens! You need to fix your cats.” And so on. My cats are fixed. We have so many cats because we took them in.) Anyway. Coco is no ordinary dog. She is a registered purebred livestock guardian dog, a Great Pyrenees. She is, in fact, livestock herself. Livestock guardian dogs are working farm animals. Great Pyrs are one of the great livestock guardian breeds. They are natural guardians. I see the result of her breeding in Coco’s behavior every day. She doesn’t behave like any dog I’ve ever had before. She was born to guard and she can’t help it. Farmers need these natural born guardians just like they need dairy cows or chickens or so on, for what they contribute to the farm, and while a purebred isn’t always vital in a pet, if you’re trusting a dog to guard your livestock, you want to know they carry that particular behavior pattern in their bones.
I’ve considered breeding her, and even tried once when she was in heat and we took her to stay for a week with another Great Pyr on a farm a few miles away (but she didn’t get pregnant). While I weighed whether or not breeding Great Pyrs was something I really wanted to do, over the past couple of years I’ve been experiencing the downside of having a dog that goes into heat. They attract every intact male dog in a 20-mile radius. We’ve kept Coco locked on the porch and had male dogs break into our porch. We’ve kept her in the goat yard and had male dogs dig under the fence to get to her. We can successfully confine Coco on our part, but the persistence and ingenuity of a male dog who wants to get to a female in heat is pretty amazing. And frustrating. And creates a risk to other animals on our farm when we have stranger dogs lurking, lingering, roaming, chasing chickens when they aren’t chasing Coco, and digging under fences. And so, finally, I came to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of all the animals on the farm, not to mention Coco’s virtue, to fix her.
We took her to update her shots recently, by the way. We had to make two appointments before we successfully got her in the car. Coco hates the car and hates to be leashed and she made a break for it the first time. When we finally got her to the vet on the second appointment day, we were afraid to take her out of the car for fear she’d run off. The vet came out to the parking lot, leaned in the car window, and gave Coco drive-through vaccinations. Then we got her a harness, ha.
The procedure is already done today. She is fixed. They want to keep her overnight, so we’ll have her back tomorrow. No puppies for the Giant Puppy!