A couple of years ago, I was walking Barney in Clissold Park when I saw a young woman, hugely pregnant, crying on a bench as her spaniel leapt and yapped around her. It turned out she was terrified of how she’d cope with a lively young dog who ran off all of the time when she had a baby to take care of too. I asked her if she’d thought of having the dog neutered as he might calm down a bit. ‘Oh no, she said. ‘My husband won’t hear of it.’
So here the poor woman was, dragging a randy, roamy dog around the park because her husband’s fragile sense of masculinity rested entirely on the entirety of his dog. Which he didn’t walk.
He’s one of many. I meet people all the time who don’t spay and neuter their pets because the thought of it makes them squeamish, or because they think they should have ‘just one litter’ or some other self-indulgent nonsense. I’ve also lost count of the number of dogs I’ve seen abandoned in the park, either old and frail or younger dogs who’ve started to lose their puppy-cuteness and amiability. My friend Louise Glazebrook is a dog behaviourist and trainer who is constantly trying to find homes for abandoned dogs who somehow find their way to her doorstep when there’s no room in the shelters. As there increasingly isn’t.
The animal charity Blue Cross has seen a 40% increase in the number of stray and abandoned pets they have taken in since 2010. I know that this isn’t something you might expect to read about on my blog, with its confection of recipes and ribbon, but it’s something I feel passionate about so I hope you’ll indulge me. The Blue Cross has launched their Big Neutering Campaign to encourage pet owners to neuter their pets.
Kim Hamilton, chief executive of Blue Cross, explains: ‘The tragedy is that somewhere along the line pets have become the latest throwaway commodity. For many, their pets are part of the family but there are simply too many pets and not enough of these good homes to go round. While charities like Blue Cross will always be there to give needy pets a healthy, happy future we must reverse this trend so pets are not disposed of like rubbish and neutering your pet is the norm.’
Neutering reduces the risk of some illnesses, makes your dog less likely to roam and fight, and in the case of males, makes them less likely to be a target of aggressive dogs. Please consider it.