When we opted for a female dog, I dreaded the inevitable spaying. As tempting as the occasional litter of puppies may have been, knowing we’d have every male dog within cooey sniffing around our property at regular intervals held somewhat less appeal. And Lila would have to be locked up. So at six months, laden with guilt and worry, I delivered her to the veterinary hospital where she would undergo this cruel transformation. I would have liked to have had Lila’s consent. Or at least be able to explain our reasons.

When the vet nurse called a few hours later to say our pup was recovering nicely, I nearly cried with relief. And I couldn’t wait to pick her up. I wanted her out of there! I imagined a sweet reunion where Lila would rush into my arms and lick my face with joy. Instead, she approached tentatively. Dopey, disoriented and disfigured. My guilt soared another notch. Before heading home, we were advised to keep Lila “quiet” for two weeks. No problem I thought. The next morning, however, I found myself rereading the post-op instructions to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood. I hadn’t.  [read more below]

[wpvideo bWld0MF6 w=484]

With each day of restricted activity, Lila’s spring coiled more tightly. She was going crazy with boredom and I was going crazy trying to keep her entertained. How many toys can a dog squeak in a day? How many rawhide bones can one chew? By the end of the first week, Lila’s mischievous streak had taken on new dimensions. It had become downright destructive. She’d only been on her own for half an hour when Phil and I returned to a house strewn with objects not just shredded, but masticated almost beyond recognition. And for a horrible few minutes we could only locate one of four AA batteries. Tooth-marked. We couldn’t go on like this. We broke the rules. We let Lila off lead with the hope that she wouldn’t do anything silly. And end up back at the vet’s for another round of surgery.

I wouldn’t say she was perfect, but she was reasonably sensible until Christmas Eve. When we had houseguests. And far too much excitement. After dinner (but before dessert) we’d all wandered briefly outside when Lila spontaneously started doing laps. Not leisurely ones, but crazy little circles with sudden spurts and leaps. I shouted out for someone to please open the front door to get her back inside the house. Big mistake. She vaulted the threshold and headed straight towards the dinner table, where she took a flying leap onto it (scattering cutlery and toppling water glasses but miraculously not breaking a thing) and, in response to our chorus of shouts and shrieks, just as suddenly flew off again. Until we had the presence of mind to tackle her. My nerves were shattered, but thankfully Lila’s stitches remained intact.

[If you have received this post by email, please click “dog downunder” or “lila comes home from the hospital” in order to view accompanying video in a web page.]