I broke down early. Science, the vet, and the Google forums tell me I should wait for my female dog to experience her first cycle of heat before she is spayed. So that was our plan. But plans change.
My dog is a thug. A love-her-to-bits thug, but nevertheless, well deserving of the moniker. She is our first female and we’ve never experienced what heat would be like, but I thought we could tough it out. For the good of the beast. And I prepared for it, but every day, worried about what level of stress in the home we’d ratchet up to. Since we got the thug, (who sleeps next to myself and George, on her back, four long, adorable legs in the air until she flops onto one of us) our stress level has doubled. We don’t recall the same experience with our other two golden retrievers – both males.
She cannot control herself. She kind of wants to be good, but jumping onto the back of the couch, over your head, and onto the plate in your lap is a much better idea. Everyone digs that. Jumping six feet in the air and using your claws to slow your fall down the screens on the window is super fun too. That activity can be repeated on the wooden framing on all windows and doors. They’re fragile—they had it coming.
Currently sixty-five pounds of solid muscle and nine months old, she could go into heat at any moment, or within the next three months. She’s on the vet’s schedule for next week. Knowing her, we’ll wake up tomorrow to a big surprise and have to cancel the appointment. I purchased doggie diapers and the doggie pads, then measured the pads and hit the drugstore to stock up on the Kotex. I assembled the diaper and pad and did a dry run. It took two of us to wrestle the juvenile delinquent into wearing it, but we got it on. She promptly sat down, reached back, gripped the Velcro strap and tugged it back. She had the diaper off in under two seconds. Yes, we could safety pin it, but God knows how long that would last. No doubt she would just eat it.
The vet would most likely cringe at the number of items that Gemma has ingested without us calling for emergency medical intervention. The thing is, she’s worn us down. “Quarters will pass through. Dimes, nickels, and pennies—no problem,” said George when we’d discovered her standing on the dresser consuming the coins. Every tennis ball in the house is bald. She’s eaten the green stuff off all of them. With my other dogs, when I got home from the grocery store, I’d distract them with a fun treat by allowing them to tear to pieces one of the paper bags. It was routine. Gemma eats them. Within minutes.
Judge not, lest you be judged—she got over her initial anxiety about riding in the car when every car ride had a happy ending—at Dairy Queen. Or McDonalds. She takes down an entire ice cream cone in the drive through before we even pull out of the parking lot. “Doesn’t she get an ice cream headache?” my kid asks me.
“It doesn’t appear so,” I answer, a bit shaken as I glance in the side mirror of the car as I drive home. Window in the back rolled down, it’s twenty below zero, and after sucking down an entire cone, she’s got her head out the window, ears flapping in the frozen breeze.
“What happened to the sausage?” George asks, coming back from somewhere after having made six hot Italian links for spaghetti. I look at the empty foil-lined cookie sheet, filled with grease. “I don’t know. I didn’t eat them.” We look at Gemma who sits innocently staring at us. “Are you kidding me? Six sausages? I’ve only been gone for a minute and they were boiling hot.”
“She’s a street thug. She took ‘em down.”
She scorched her whiskers on the grill outside, getting too close. George thought it was a good lesson. And I suppose it was, but as I write this, George is grilling again, and Gemma is digging at the ground with one front paw like a bull entering the arena. She’s growling and barking at the grill and gauging her charge. When the grill cools down, she will eat the ashes if we don’t get to them first. I’ll let you guess who cleans the grill first, Gemma or George.
We’ve taken the agitator to puppy socialization class and immediately followed it up with beginning obedience class and are on the waiting list for the next class due to start next month. We are trying, but yesterday I watched her in the yard, trolling the fence line, looking for weak spots. She’s found them before, and we’ve been lucky that she hasn’t run far or been hit by a car. There are high snow banks now, on either side of the fence. Hard packed ones. She can stand on a mound, her feet on the top, the picket fence hitting her at belly level. She could take it. She might get hurt, but if she’s motivated, she’d do it. The same goes for dogs coming inside the fence. Climb up a mound, go over the top, party with the brazen hussy in the yard, and head home.
I cannot monitor her every movement. We are trying. And yes, the snow will melt making the fence higher and more difficult to manage. But as they say, nature finds a way. And so will Gemma. I will not survive a litter of thugs. And I’m quite certain I’d lie about our girl’s temperament to prospective parents of her pups. God help me if it happens, I will be in the Walmart parking lot with a big sign that says FREE ANGLES next to a box of puppies.
Fingers crossed we make it to next week. And…..go ahead and say a prayer for my baby girl. She’s having surgery! Wait. Say one for all of us. We’ve ten days in a cone. ☹