Tag Archives: French Bulldog

Should you neuter your dog? Latest data says not so fast!

What were the benefits of early neuter supposed to be? 

The most obvious one is fewer puppies. Other purported benefits include: lessening aggressive and/or marking behaviors, minimizing chances of reproductive-system cancers, and avoiding messy heat cycles.

Has early neutering worked?

Well, yes and no. According to our friends in the rescue/shelter world, there are fewer dogs in shelters. However, the dogs that are in shelters are more likely to have behavioral and/or health issues. As dog owners have become more responsible over the past 40 years, shelter dogs are products of neglect, abuse, and irresponsible pet ownership. Fewer “nice” dogs are available for adoption from shelters and rescues. And the backlash against responsible breeders has made purpose-bred, mentally- and physically-sound dogs harder to find and less accessible to the average person. They simply don’t know where to turn for a nice pet, not a “project.”

What are the negatives of early neutering?

Recent studies have shown that neutering before maturity can cause orthopedic issues for dogs. More research is being done, but it seems that the hormones are needed to signal the dogs’ bones to stop growing. This can lead to problems like cranial cruciate rupture,hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation. 
There have also been links found between early neuter and an uptick in other cancers, including mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. 
Additionally, the supposed behavioral benefits of early neutering have come under question. The research actually suggests the opposite – neutered dogs are actually more aggressive than intact animals. Neutered dogs also proved to be more excitable, fearful, and exhibit other less-desirable behaviors.

This is personal

It was a nervous week here at Golly Gear. Torque, Hope’s 4-year-old French Bulldog went under the knife for removal of a growth on his privates, and neutering surgery. The decision when, or even if, to neuter your dog is more difficult these days as the body of research grows.

Any kind of medical procedure on our dogs (or us!), especially surgery, is worrisome. Especially when you have a flat-faced dog like a Frenchie. And especially when the dog has never had anesthesia before. Even though we’ve known our veterinarian for years and trust her completely, it’s always a concern.

Brindle French Bulldog recovering from neuter surgery
Torque resting at home after surgery.

We’re happy to report that Torque came through with flying colors. He was a little groggy the first night and definitely not a fan of the “no food” surgical aftercare. The next morning, with breakfast on board, he was pretty much back to his usual self. He’s having a mini-vacation from rough-housing with the other dogs and training classes, but otherwise fine.

But we have to admit – if it weren’t for the mass on his “bits,” Torque would still be intact and likely would have stayed that way the rest of his life. Our attitude has shifted on the value of neutering dogs. Just like it shifted before.

Back in the olden days

Our first family dog was Spunky, a Boston Terrier who came into our lives in 1967. To the best of our knowledge, our mom never even thought about getting him neutered. It wasn’t routine, or automatic. At that time, according to the National Institutes of Health, a quarter of the dog population was “roaming the streets (whether owned or not) and 10 to 20-fold more dogs were euthanized in shelters compared to the present.”

Then, over the course of the next couple of decades, attention was focused on the overpopulation of dogs and cats and public opinion changed. Neutering became the “norm” – recommended for all pets as soon as they were about six months old. 

With the rise of the “adopt, don’t shop” movement, neutering started even earlier. Animals weren’t allowed to leave shelters unless they had already undergone the surgery. Now the consequences of that shift are coming to light and the results are a mixed bag.

What’s the take-away? Should I neuter my dog?

As always, it’s a decision that only you and your veterinarian can make, keeping in mind your situation, and your particular dog. While searching for answers, be aware of the source of the material you’re finding – many groups have biases. As critical thinkers, our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff, and take into account the writer’s point of view. 

For us, the choice was pretty clear. Torque is four years old, already mature. He’s done growing. As a matter of fact, the only thing that was growing was the mass on his scrotum. We weighed our options and made our decision based on the information available to us. It’s the best we can do.

Bigger life for you and your dog

This week we watched a video, aimed at dog training professionals that was pretty useless. But one line from the video struck a chord. 

The presenter said that for most people, “their life is bigger than just their dog.”

Aside from the atrocious grammar, the thought resonated. 

Part of your life

While dogs are members of their families, most people have a lot more than that going on – family, jobs, school, volunteering, hobbies, traveling. The list could be endless. And while people love their dogs – most dogs don’t participate in the rest of their lives.

Some dogs are able to go to work with their owners. Others accompany their families for outings like soccer games, picnics, or hikes. But most of our dogs wait for us comfortably at home. Most people’s lives aren’t centered around their dogs.

Aim higher

There’s nothing wrong with that – but both your dog’s and your lives could be bigger! Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to bring your dog with you wherever dogs are allowed? And know they’ll be well-behaved? And wouldn’t you love to have friends drop by any time without worrying about your dog? You can!

As we’re getting the wheels rolling on our 2-Minute-Trainer Club, we’ve been trying to define why we’re such advocates for training. And the nutshell answer is – it allows both of you to have a bigger life.

Some people have negative associations with the word “training.” There’s a history of boredom, drudgery, and even cruelty associated with the word.

Playing learning games

With our 2-Minute Trainer Method – every little “training session” is an opportunity to play with your dog. We define the games you can play, in limited space and time. And get substantial results. The amazing thing is that, as your dog’s understanding of the method grows, he or she will learn new things faster, easier, and better than you could have dreamed.

Just this week Hope taught her French Bulldog (not a breed known for compliance!) to “squat.” Her veterinarian suggested that Torque’s hind end was so straight that he may have issues with arthritis later in life unless we worked to strengthen him. So, after discussing the best exercises that would help him – Hope taught him to “squat.” It took about 7 minutes – total. 

Hope’s not a miracle worker. But she’s been playing training games with Torque, so he knows how to learn. He knows how to keep trying “stuff” until he hears a click and gets a treat. It’s all making it fun for both of you! This video is from the second two-minute session they played this game!

Pick up a clicker and join us in the 2-Minute-Trainer Club! Your dog can learn anything you want. Give us a couple of minutes a day and we’ll show you. You won’t believe what a difference a couple of minutes can make.

2018 ends in pain

2018 wasn’t the best year on record – better than some. Worse than others. Until this week.

Anyone who uses Facebook has seen friends “sharing” their Facebook-generated “Your 2018” videos. Our “feeds” are full of them. We were kind of looking forward to our own popping up, until this week. This week 2018 went from a bit challenging to agonizing.

Teddy is gone

Hope’s 8-year-old French Bulldog, Teddy, died on Sunday. We were relaxing and watching television that evening. Teddy, as usual, was cuddled up next to Hope. He woke from his nap, panting and in distress. She ran with him to the emergency vet and learned that an unknown abdominal mass had ruptured and he was gravely ill. We couldn’t let him suffer and chose euthanasia.

A friend of ours told us: “Euthanasia is the last, best gift we give our pets. We take their pain and make it our own.” Teddy is free of pain. Ours is a throbbing behemoth.

Nothing stays the same

As everyone who’s lost a beloved pet knows – everything changes. Even with other animals in the house, everything’s different. And when you have multiple dogs, the dynamics of the family change.

As I (Hope) write this, we’re less than 48 hours without Teddy. Tango is sleeping more. Booker isn’t sure what to do with himself. Torque is unwilling to play. They’re not actively looking, but they know Teddy is missing.

Simon is barely four months old – a happy, clueless puppy. Thank goodness he’s here – we need to smile.

Feeling cheated

Beyond sad and unsettled, we also feel cheated, in an odd way. We’ve mentioned before that Teddy was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) early in the summer. It’s a fatal disease the takes away a dog’s ability to move, progressing from back to front. It’s caused by the same gene mutation responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Battle plan

Hope had a plan in place to battle back against DM:

Rear lift assist harness
  • Special diet
  • Supplements
  • Physical therapy exercises to replace nerve loss with muscle memory
  • Massage
  • Cold laser
  • Training games to keep him engaged, thinking, and happy
  • Rear lift harness (pictured) purchased & ready when needed
  • Pet stroller so Teddy would never be left behind

The best-laid plans

Now all of it’s useless. Teddy saw his vets last Friday for routine stuff, including a check-in to evaluate the progression of his disease. They were thrilled with how he was doing – still walking. Still happy. They even got Teddy kisses. Six months after DM diagnosis, most dogs are “down” in the back. Teddy was still mobile. They tell us they fully expected him to have at least a year, very possibly more, before the DM took over.

So we were winning the daily battle against DM. And now?

No enemy to fight

This will sound like a non-sequitur, but stay with us for a minute: Is anybody out there a fan of the Monkees? Or even remember them? We were huge fans when we were kids.

Remember the song “Zor and Zam?”

The last line keeps playing in my mind: “They gave a war, and nobody came. And nobody came.”

Dipping one toe over the line – CBD available here

We’ve always been “good girls.”

Well, Fran more than Hope, but both of us pretty much play by the rules. We do what we’re supposed to do, when we’re supposed to do it, are polite and truly believe in doing the right thing.

Introduction to CBD

Now we’re stepping a bit over the line.

We decided to start carrying CBD oil in our shop. We understand that some consider it controversial, and it’s possible to get in some trouble. But it’s important for us to offer the best possible care for our dogs – and yours.

For those unfamiliar – hemp is the source for CBD oil. Yup, marijuana plants. Research is showing that CBD may have tremendous therapeutic benefits for both people and dogs. Among other cited possibilities: relief from pain, anxiety, epilepsy, arthritis, seizures, neurological ailments, sleep disorders, and possibly even cancer.

Getting support

Our interest in CBD oil was piqued when it was mentioned in a support group Hope has joined. Teddy, her 8-year-old French Bulldog, has been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). DM is a genetic, neurological disease. It’s the canine equivalent of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It’s a progressive condition that steals mobility from dogs as it deadens the nerves of the spinal cord. The first sign in dogs is usually “knuckling” – when the dog drags its back feet.

There is no cure for DM. No treatment exists. Those of us with dogs suffering from DM hope to slow the progression of the disease with exercise, massage, diet, and supplementation.

No professional help

So Hope talked to our veterinarian about various supplements that may have an effect. She tried to talk about CBD – but the veterinarians can’t talk about it. Veterinarians’ licenses come from the federal government in the U.S. Vets, technically, cannot discuss a “Schedule 1” substance without risk to their licenses.

As pet owners, we’re on our own with this.

The research we’ve been able to find, on our own and with the help of others, seems to indicate that CBD can help open the neural receptors that die with DM. And, rather than do nothing, we’ll try.

We know it will do no harm.

Certified organic

CBD oil, while made from hemp plants, has none of the phychoactive compound that can make anyone (including dogs) “high.” The company we’re using grows all of its own hemp in Colorado, and it’s certified organic – another important consideration for us. The only other ingredient is safflower carrier oil – also organic.

We got Teddy’s diagnosis in July. We’d been doing on homework on CBD, talking to different companies and learning more about it. And then, serendipitously, a fellow Skokie merchant, who we’ve known for years, stopped in to talk about his venture into CBD products.

Life saver – maybe

A lifeline tossed into our bit of ocean. We found an expert we already knew and trusted.

When he offered us the opportunity to carry Suzie’s CBD oil and dog treats in our shop, we jumped at the chance. Not only has Teddy started on the oil, we’re happy to be able to offer them to you, as well.

We don’t quite know what will happen with this new product. It’ll be a challenge to let people know it’s available here – Google and Facebook won’t let us advertise. And we found out our friend’s bank closed his account (banks are federally licensed).

So these “good girls” are dipping our toes into some muddy, gray waters. But it’s the right thing to do for our dogs – and yours.