Tag Archives: torque

Bad dog mom! Forgot a dog birthday? Shame!

Hope was a really bad dog mom this week. You’d think, with only one kid to keep track of, nowhere to go, and not much to do, that she’d be able to remember important dates.

Not so much. It wasn’t until she looked at her phone Tuesday morning and saw her calendar with the notification “Torque’s birthday,” that she had any clue. Oops. As a matter of fact, she’d mentioned to someone just last week that his birthday was in November. Oops again.

Funny things, birthdays

We all know that Torque neither knows, nor cares, He has no idea what a calendar is, let alone that some dates are more momentous than others. 

It matters to us. Birthdays are more than a way of marking time. It’s a way to celebrate that one soul that matters. To let that being know they’re special, they count, their presence in our lives makes it better.

In the routine and stress of everyday life, it’s easy to take people/dogs/things for granted. Especially in 2020, we get through each day as best we can. Some are better than others. Some are truly difficult. Just like for everyone.

Birthday break

But on someone’s birthday, even a dog birthday, we get to break the routine and find a reason to celebrate. Ironically, Hope’s birthday this year was the day the pandemic lockdown went into effect here – the celebration dinner was carry-out. The first of quite a few lockdown celebrations

It wasn’t her worst birthday ever. That came quite a few years ago when she turned 26. She doesn’t know why it bothered her, but it did. Maybe passing the quarter-century mark. She was also working as a newspaper editor at the time and that was a particularly bad deadline day. And, when she got home, she found out there was fish for dinner. At the time, she loathed fish.

And she felt cheated – because on “her” day, it seemed that no one was celebrating her. It wasn’t true, of course, but it felt that way. And we learned that birthdays aren’t about presents, or cake. Not even ice cream. They’re about making that person know they’re special and enhance our lives. Because everyone needs to know they matter.

Dogs matter, too

Birthday boy Torque

The bad preparation for Torque’s sixth dog birthday has a silver lining. Now that Hope’s been reminded we have an occasion to celebrate, she’s planning a weekend bash for her boy. There will be vanilla ice cream and new toys and chews for the boys. If the weather cooperates and we don’t have more snow flurries, there may even be a meander on the local greenway so he can check out all the pee-mail. The simple joys of being a dog.

Another lesson from our dogs

Torque doesn’t know it’s his dog birthday. It also doesn’t matter to him. Any guilt Hope feels for forgetting is all hers. He does know he got to have fun playing with his mom and family. He knows he had good food, cuddles, and a comfy place to nap. And, when we get around to an actual birthday celebration, he’ll enjoy it enormously.

So, when you see notifications come up on your calendar or social media, take a minute to celebrate the person whose birthday it is. Even if all you do is post a simple “Happy Birthday!” – it lets that person know you thought of them, and they matter. 

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.

Have we got a Spring allergy tip for you

Anything that makes life easier/smoother/less stressful is a good thing. A tiny thing that’s making a difference is a simple package of baby wipes near the back door.
Our house is weirdly and awkwardly arranged to the first thing you see when you walk in is the stove. (Unless the basement door is open – then it’s the stairs, or stars, if you take a tumble!) Which has made the stove a staging area for all the things you need as you come in or go out. Keys, poop bags, treats, etc.
Not the most convenient arrangement when you want to cook, but in a small space, you learn to make do.
Anyway, there’s been one recent addition to the flotsam that’s actually making a difference in a good way.
Baby wipes. Specifically hypo-allergenic baby wipes.

French Bulldog Torque and baby wipes

Just a quick swipe with a wipe when Torque comes inside minimizes contact allergy exposure.

Since about the middle of January, Torque’s been having some issues with allergies. At first it was just a bit of paw-licking. Then his paws were a bit raw and swollen, then he started losing some hair under his eyes, along with some redness. In other words, the little man was a mess.
At first we thought it had to be a food allergy that was just coming to the fore, since Hope took him away on vacation in early February and his whole environment changed.
So we put him on an elimination diet. And it made no difference whatsoever. The allergen had to be something environmental. With an extraordinarily warm, wet winter, some sort of mold is probably the culprit.
Torque is a two-year-old French Bulldog. And a very happy, athletic, active two year old. If he’s awake, he’s on the move and we don’t have a lot of time to “fuss” with him. Especially with Booker The Boston bouncing around, egging him on to play.
As soon as Torque steps in the house, we hit the baby wipes package and swipe his face and paws. It helps if we have a treat in our hands (There’s a treat jar on the stove, too, of course.) and ask him to “sit!” as soon as he hits the indoors. We don’t have time, or inclination, to mess with more than that.
The new system seems to be helping. He’s not gnawing at his paws so much and his face looks less irritated.
We have noticed one immediate improvement – the floors are lacking a few paw prints! Especially coming in from the wet weather, we’ve started swiping all the dogs’ paws with baby wipes. It only takes a moment and it’s already making a difference.


If your dog is miserable with contact allergies you may want to consider stronger measures – which may include using Pawz dog boots whenever your dog goes outside. They’re particularly effective for dogs with grass allergies.

Dogs will be dogs

Tuesday night is obedience club night. It’s just what we always do on Tuesdays – we go to class and train our dogs. The classes vary and the dogs have changed over the years – but it’s always fun to see our dog-training friends, old and new, and spend an hour or two concentrating on nothing but playing with your dog. All outside concerns are left outside the training hall – for that precious little bit of time, it’s just you and your dog.

I (Hope) have Torque in the club’s Rally Obedience class. He’s doing terrific – even the exercises that were difficult for him (dog lies down, handler walks around dog) are coming together. We had a good night. Torque even managed to “chill” in his portable crate while I taught the Novice Obedience class after our Rally class was over.

And then we got home and Torque chased, caught, and killed an immature rabbit in the

It was much more pleasant to clean up the murdered stuffie toy.

It was much more pleasant to clean up the murdered stuffie toy.

backyard. I know he’s a dog. I know it’s what dogs do. I’m not angry with him. I’m not even particularly disturbed by what he did. But I’m also not proud of that accomplishment. It kind of put a damper on the whole evening when I had to spend a chunk of it cleaning up the remains.

And, in truth, I blame the bunny. Of all the yards in the neighborhood – couldn’t it tell that dogs live in ours? The dog scent has to be in every corner of our yard. I guess there’s a reason rabbits breed like, well, rabbits. They’re too stupid to live long lives.