I decided to tell Luca, my 10-month-old poodle, that he was going to be neutered the following morning. “Tomorrow,” I said while creating images in my mind, “we are going to take you to the veterinarian’s. They will take you into the back room. You will probably go into a silver cage that reflects light. They are going to give you some medicine that makes you feel strange and fall fast asleep. Then they are going to do an operation on you that makes it so you can not create babies with another dog.”
Then I named all my present animals and explained that they too had had this operation.
“This is important,” I explained, “because there are too many animals in the world that have no homes. We don’t want to be creating more dogs.” Luca said nothing. He stared at me as if I was had just ruined his innocence. “When you wake up from the operation,” I continued, “you will feel strange, but only for a little while. The doctor is the very best. I’ll pick you up before our evening walk time.” Luca looked away and than back at me. “Why are you telling me this?” He asked. “Because knowledge is power,” I said without explaining.
I forgot to set my alarm. This normally doesn’t matter because at 6 a.m. Luca always starts making strange cooing noises and scratches at his crate, a sign to me that he needs to go out. This particular morning Luca is silent. He lets me sleep in. I am late getting up! When I do get out of bed, he remains lying down and even hesitates for a second to come out of his crate. My cat Serafina tells me now that in the middle of the night she explained neutering to him, and how your stomach is sore for days.
Before we walked into the vet I repeated what I told him the night before and emphasized, “It is normal to feel strange.”
I dropped him off at 8:15 and our veterinarian called me at 11:15 to say I could come pick him up in early afternoon. I found out later that Luca woke up very quickly from surgery and was making those cooing noises at the vet to let him out of the cage and cuddle him. Luca was fairly normal-acting when I got him home. He barked at passers-by and slept a little more. I didn’t walk him. In the late evening he had a lot of discomfort so I gave him his painkiller as instructed. In the middle of the night he needed to go outside. He ran around tucking his pelvis and licking at it. His incision was bothering him.
“Luca” I said, “you will feel better when you go back to bed. This is a normally healing feeling.” He disappeared into the bedroom. Luca tries every day to get up on my bed, and has only been successful two or three times. But this time, when I went back to my bedroom after getting a glass of water, he was fast asleep on my bed. He looked so cute I allowed him to stay.
Now, the next morning, I ask him, “Tell me about your neutering experience.”
Luca answers, “When I was in the shining cage I was glad you told me what was going to happen, because it was scary back there. Then the nice doctor told me everything that was going to happen and I felt safe with him. When I woke up I felt like I had too much breath in side of me. Meaning I felt very dizzy. I just wanted to go home. Everyone was nice to me. Now I have an itchy pain below my stomach and I wonder when that is going to go away. When I move I feel awkward. You say that feeling will go away in a couple of days and I wish a couple of days would go by fast. I understand now why knowledge is power. Knowledge makes you brave instead of scared.
“I want to know more about homeless animals. Where do they sleep? Who feeds them? Why do they not have people to care for them? Aren’t there a lot of people in the world? Shouldn’t they all have an animal so no one is homeless?”