Today is a very big day indeed for our eleven month old Labrador pup as we've just taken him to the vet for a very special operation.
Aside from us being in the dog house this morning when we didn't give him his breakfast (he wasn't allowed to eat after 10pm last night), he seemed fine and merrily trotted off with the vet technician completely forgetting his two fretting dads.
We've known for a few months now that his biological clock was ticking and it's been a frisky time, with Cooper becoming increasingly wayward and adventurous. Our breeder was insistent that we waited at least a year before we had him neutered but we had to take this window of opportunity as we feel the time is right.
It's such a hard decision as there are no clear cut guidelines about when to get your pup neutered. We've research books and the internet, posted questions on dog specific forums and it's just made us even more confused.
Opinion on the matter is split between those who say not to neuter until at least a year or much later and others who say to do it from four to six months. People are usually swayed by personal experience or are breeders who have very specific ideas about what you should do, or others go on their vets advice (which again varies wildly).
What no one tells you is that there is no simple answer. The information seems to change depending on what breed of dog and there's conflicting medical opinion on the implications for testicular cancer and the development of proper proportional growth. It's a veritable minefield.
Anyway, we've waited this long and now poor Cooper is off to have his bits snipped, bless him. Let's hope he forgives us.
At the same time we're having him micro-chipped so that he can become an 'International Dog of Mystery' or at least travel back with us with his own Pet Passport when we eventually return to Britain.
As a precaution he'll also get an anti-rattlesnake venom vaccine (the first of two, the other he'll get a month later), which doesn't fully protect but apparently lessens the effect of a snake bite. This is especially important for our regular visits to Runyon Canyon where it's heating up and there have been several rattlesnake sightings in the last few days. Cooper's always sticking his nose into everything so we want to make sure he's as safe as possible.
I'll leave you now with Cooper having a bit of a doze. We're told he'll be a bit dazed and confused for a few days (but I'm sure it'll only be hours with Cooper), and so I'm sure he'll do his share of sleeping, although I'm really not sure how he's going to cope with his cone head.
One final rant and big sigh of relief from me today in these days of financial doom and gloom. I had a letter earlier this week from the British Tax Office telling me I owed them around £900, but when I queried it with them on the phone I discovered a manual error on their end, meaning that in fact they owed me close to £300 - result!
I think maybe Cooper will deserve some toys and treats after his visit to the vet...