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Notes from Underneath: No balls

Notes from Underneath

A California girl in Chilsters (that's Chile to you)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


No balls

During a time when the country - no, the world - is obsessed with balls and where they can go (i.e. World Cup fever), I've had a ball-centered weekend myself. Except my weekend has more to do with the REMOVAL of balls. That is, my dog's balls (to my more conservative readers, sorry for such a crude way of putting it!)

Last Friday, G and I had Obi fixed (neutered). While we're completely and totally ok with this decision, it's been a mini ordeal in Chile, a country where neutering a male pet is simply unheard of. Even G wasn't too keen on the idea when we first got Obi so my mission was clear: at least in our home, in our own way, we'd do what we could to be responsible pet owners and do our share to help control the pet population in Chile. It's easy to shrug off the responsibility of helping the pet population (in both dogs and cats) but the reality is that said responsibility starts with each and every pet owner.

So when I set out to "convince" my dear husband that neutering our male pet was the best option, I did my research. According to various reliable, online sources (such as The Humane Society, ASPCA and the likes), these are the most convincing reasons (in my opinion) to fix your pet:

1) Neutering your pet can help it lead a healthier life and in males, eliminates testicular cancer.

2) The female dog won't go into "heat" and the male dog won't feel inclined to wander away from home (in search of said female dog in heat.) The overwhelming sexual urges just don't kick in and your dog is free to be your dear, sweet, family pet. Isn't this the reason you got the dog in the first place?

3) A neutered male dog will be much better behaved because they focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs may mark their territory all over the house.

4) Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering (Obi was neutered at six months, the earliest recommended age to neuter pets.)

5) Finally, the most important reason: everyday, animals die because there is no one to care for them or are killed by euthanasia because no one wants them. There is simply no excuse for allowing pets to breed unless one is a responsible breeder who knows what he/she is doing!

With all this, G was of course convinced. He let go of the learned reaction he had for so long as a Chilean who grew up in Chile: it has nothing to do with being more manly or less manly. It's a dog, for Pete's sake! We are not removing the MAN'S testicles, we're asking a professional to remove our pet's testicles for the reasons stated above. Further it's not "cruel" of us to "deny" him the experience of a sexual encounter or the experience of being a father. Again, he's a DOG!! He still has his penis and as far as we can tell, it works despite the neutering! Furthermore, having done our research, we know that this particular breed (bulldogs) don't innately pursue procreation. Most female bulldogs needs to be artificially inseminated because it's not part of their DNA to go around shacking up with every dog they see!

My dear husband is a smart guy and with proper research and argument, if someone's right, someone's right. In this case, I was right and once we had this important discussion, not only was he convinced it was the right thing to do with Obi, but he defended (and continues to defend) this decision to every person who has something negative to say about it.

But frankly, I'm SO SICK of the weird looks, shocked questions and concerned expressions some Chileans continue to give me. Today in the elevator my neighbor made a comment about how "particular" Obi was being because he was barking at her. I told her he had just had surgery. When she and her son asked why, I debated on what to say ... finally I just said "I had him castrated." Their looks were priceless. I'm sure that they had a field day forming a very vivid picture of what my family life with G was like ... I was very proud of myself for causing such shock to my fellow (narrow-minded) neighbors but quickly found myself EXPLAINING why I had done it (basically "blamed" it on cultural differences and that where I was from, fixing a dog was considered normal.) In any case, they continue to think I'm a weirdo and I'm sure I didn't help in easing their opinion that my dog is "weird" too.

Just for the record, my fellow Chileans who think this is such a horrible thing to do to a dog, Obi's a-ok. In fact, the only thing that has him feeling less than stellar is the pain medication. We quickly discontinued it, of course and now he's on his favorite rice and chicken diet.

Of course, immediately AFTER the surgery he looked like this:

In his e-cone and doped on his recent dose of anesthesia, he looks like a pot head, druggie dog! He was super uncomfortable and couldn't find any way to sit ... but he's since then conquered the situation and he's looking more like this:

He's laying low, not really going outside and chilling with me and G in-house. AND he's not even noticing the operated area ... some websites indicated that he might lick or scratch the site, but he hasn't and he doesn't seem to be feeling any kind of pain. He's running and jumping and eating (now that he's off the pain meds).

G and I are happy with our decision and we know that in the long run, our little guy will lead a healthier, happier life as our dear family pet. Yeah, I'm still super annoyed with the majority reaction here but it doesn't make what we did less appropriate. We're being responsible and we're assuring our dog's happy life from now on.

The question is: are you doing the same for your pet?

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Yes, what is it with Chilean men and their terror of neutering dogs!? My fiance is the same. When I asked if their family dog was neutered he gave me a look of utter horror and disbelief and couldn´t understand why I someone would do such a thing! Looks like we´re going to have a little argument when we finally get a dog in the future! When that happens, I´ll just show him this post. Your argument was quite convincing!
Great post! I'm getting my cat neutered next month when he turns 6 months old. SO MANY people try to convince me not to. I mean, yes, Chileans have WARPED views on this (in my opinion) but beyond that, how about letting me make decisions for my own pet? I'm not asking to cut off YOUR cats balls (although I think you should) or even your own balls so CALM DOWN! Agh.
I think I read that they live longer too.

I convinced Seba with all the same research that you did, but when his family started fighting me on it, I think gave them the added bonus of, "We castrate him, or we put him out the street. Your choice."

Good for you for doing the right thing, and Obi looks like he's recovering just fine.

For me, aside from all the reasons that castrating benefits the dog and benefits our life with the dog -- the streets of Santiago with all the half starved strays is reason enough.
When I got my first cat neutered (2nds too young) OH MAN everybody had to give me their stupid 2 cents on it. as it turns out, the entire country of chile seems to hardly care about legitimately taking care of their pets and then turn them out to the streets, yet they seem to DEEPLY care about female cats rights to mother itty bitty cats (which they with then of course hardly assure a good future). everybody kept saying "you can't do that before she at least has one littler of kittens, she feels the need to be a mom." perhaps its true, but i had my own reasons and frankly, valpo does NOT need more cats.
Oh my gosh! I can not believe people are so stupid. They would rather abandon a litter of puppies in a plaza instead of fixing their dog! I have already done a cultural anthropology final project on the differences of attitudes towards pets in Chile and the U.S... and I didn't even get to the fixing issue.
Oh yeah, annnndddd.. my boyfriend's dog got killed when he got hit by a car because he went crazy after a bitch in heat from across the street.. in Santiago of course.
I think it's interesting that it's ok for dogs to eat unnatural food and live in unnatrual environments (to say nothing of walks on leashes and little sweaters), but they supposedly have a basic animal right to a natural sex life. What does that say about Chilean society?

We've gotten the same shocked reactions and sympathy for Lola, but usually a quick "well what's worse, her having one more unnatural thing in her life or 7 more dogs being out on the streets because we're not keeping the puppies, and I doubt you are" ends that. It's just a question of people thinking about things in a new way - sure, not everyone gets it, but some people do once they hear this crazy gringa perspective, and hopefully they'll keep it in mind for their next pet.
When it comes to pet ownership, Chileans have no idea. They really seem to think that dogs and cats enjoy sex and should therefore be allowed to go and have fun. It's cruel to take away that pleasure!- I've heard too many times.

The quickest way to to convince them otherwise is to show them videos of a female cat getting raped by her horny boyfriend and a male dog with his knob stuck in his girlfriend and squealing in pain.

Interestingly enough, no one has the slightest problem with castrating male horses and bulls.
We did the exact same with our dog about two weeks ago and some of the comments I have received from people have been outrageous, especially the following from a Swiss girl that goes to the same dog park as I..."You neutered your dog!? That is horrible! I mean, are you going to neuter your boyfriend as well, do you think he would like that!?". Which lead me to the idea that this ridiculous way of thinking is not only in Chile, but in many other parts of the world.
The health benefits far outway the 5 days that your doggie is uncomfortable, and when I look around Santiago and see the million of doggies on the streets, I can't believe anyone would be as ignorant to say that to neuter/spay your animal is a bad decision.

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