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.