Tag Archives: dogs

To Neuter a Rooster

The question was how do you neuter a rooster. Ronnie and Diane thought they were getting hens but they ended up with three roosters instead. Reminds me of the Dovers. A neighbor gave them five baby chicks, supposedly one rooster, four hens. Oops! Got it turned around. One hen and four roosters.

Identifying sexes of baby chicks and rabbits is difficult if one isn’t an expert in the field. Contrary to common thought, a mixed practice veterinarian, for instance, should not be expected to be an expert on identifying gender in those tiny critters. Some friends asked Charles, my veterinarian husband, to sex some bunnies years ago. He blithely complied, though as I remember, he did warn them he didn’t have a good track record in that department. Well, when it turned out that his male was having babies and his female was a lively buck, that family ribbed their vet mercilessly and still remind him of his mistake. Always with a great laugh, of course!

He is very good at laughing at his own goofs. His good humor helps him never to be irritated by the strange requests and questions that come his way when folks realize he’s a vet, and he always tries to help, sometimes by simply referring someone to an expert, whether dog trainer, bird rescuer, or equine bone specialist. He may not be “tuned in” to the tiny fluffs but he loves the people who, in his view, are his most important responsibility.

Wherever we are, whether attending a Chamber of Commerce dinner, fellowship time at church, a restaurant, flying to Hawaii, or waiting in a visitation line at a funeral, Charles graciously responds to the most earnestly posed questions ever asked. Subjects range from how long a cat will be in heat (my face used to grow hot as he launched into that answer with folks suddenly turning to listen, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it after fifty years!); to how to control a dog with storm phobia; to how to diminish the population of a pasture full of donkeys, or whether or not an 18-year-old cat could survive surgery.

So here’s this question by phone of how to neuter a rooster. Actually, the caller was his brother so he could goof around with him more than most.

“There’s all those feathers,” Charles said. “How do you ever figure out where everything is? Especially when there’s no doubt where his claws and wicked beak are.”

Ronnie must have declared that his rooster was very tame, an innocent pet–except for his recent disturbances with another rooster.

I heard Charles laugh in pure delight. “Sure he is! Just try tying him up and see what a sweet cuddly he is. And watch out for your eyes!”

After considering a few impossible alternatives for neutering a rooster, Charles offered his solution to the problem. “Instead of all that torture for the poor rooster, why don’t you just finish him off kindly and make chicken and dumplings?”

I can imagine Diane in the background saying, “No, no, no!”

As it was, they pulled up stakes and moved to Michigan. I didn’t ever hear what happened to the rooster.

But–speaking of roosters–there’s one rooster Charles and I will never forget and he was not a patient or the subject of any problem.

We had been vacationing several days on the beautiful garden isle, Hawaii’s Kauai, and it was time to fly back to Honolulu. We had enjoyed a helicopter ride viewing waterfalls crashing and snaking into super green valleys, we’d hiked on a lonely beach, and eaten delicious fresh fruit at roadside stands. And we’d been fascinated everywhere we went by many free range chickens along the roads, grazing on motel grounds, pecking around in every little park. The story was that once a huge storm hit Kauai and scattered chickens to the four winds. Since then it’s against the law to kill a fowl.

We’d located a church near the airport where we could worship our Lord before we flew that Sunday. The pastor that day spoke at length about the apostle Peter. In relating Peter’s denial of Jesus, he described the courtyard scene. Just as he spoke of the crowing of the rooster, a very lively rooster crowed outside an open window–right on cue! We grinned at each other, then looked around to see how others of this very diverse congregation reacted. No one showed the least sign of having heard that rooster, even the many children. Apparently, they were so used to hearing roosters, that single clear crow at just the right moment meant nothing to them. But it was a memorable sound effect for us!

As to the Dovers and their four roosters, I believe those feathered friends are going to live as long as they let each other. No chicken and dumplings there!


Those roosters start their day about 4:00 a.m. We’ve had the privilege of visiting the Dovers on their North Georgia farm and there’s never any need for an alarm. When those fellows tune up, they crow on different notes, not at the same time like a barber shop quartet, but one after another like trumpets in a symphony orchestra, except perhaps more competitive than an orchestra would allow. At right is a picture I snapped of three of the lordly roosters admiring their sweet little hen!

And my veterinarian is still answering questions, very valid ones like what is the best remedy for pets pestered by fleas, and the funny ones like how to stop a dog from chasing squirrels or how often a rabbit needs a bath. Or…if you do neuter a rooster, will he stop crowing?

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Riding Shotgun–Some of Our Pets

Floofy was William’s first dog. Charles had stoutly insisted William should wait to have a dog until he was five years old and able to take care of it himself. He’d had his birthday several months ago. Finally, one magical day Charles took him to the animal hospital and introduced him to a fully grown smooth-haired brown, black and white beagle. When they brought the dog home and William said her name was Floofy I started to say, “Oh, no, she’s not a floofy. She has such short hair.” But Charles gave me a look that said leave the boy alone. Later he told me he’d already argued with William but “Floofy” was definitely the name he’d chosen.

So Floofy it was. She was a well-mannered dog, did not jump on us, barked when company came but stopped politely when everyone was settled, and ate happily everything we set before her. That is, until Charles said she was unhealthily fat from all the leftovers and we’d have to put her on a diet. “How would it look,” he posed, “if I’m trying as a good veterinarian to get my clients to feed their dogs healthy meals while my own dog is rolling in butter-fat?” That’s when Floofy started visiting down the street and would come home grinning around a crisp chicken leg or a wonderful meaty ham bone. William and I visited that neighbor and asked her not to feed Floofy since she was on a diet. The neighbor agreed but paused not one day in her feeding program. Floofy’s requests obviously spoke louder than our request because the fattening leftovers kept coming.

William tried to teach Floofy how to fetch but she was pretty lazy (that goes along with too much fat!) and the main game they enjoyed together was simply rolling over and over on the grass, dog and boy barking and giggling.

Floofy gave William a fantastic late Christmas present about 1975. On New Year’s morning we woke to the sound of puppies squealing–under our house! We’d been in our one-hundred-year-plus house only a couple of years and hadn’t underpinned it yet. Thank goodness we hadn’t put in air conditioning ducting yet either. The house is only inches above the ground so when Charles crawled in to retrieve the puppies, he had to maneuver in many places with his face sideways on the dirt. William shouted with glee as Charles brought the wiggling little blind puppies out, one at a time, eleven fat puppies!

I took a picture of William with that tumbling mass of puppies when they were about six weeks old. He was seven years old and hating to give any puppies away. But we had to and we did. Feeling we had saturated our field of folks wanting puppies, Charles then took Floofy to the office for an operation so she wouldn’t have any more. William seemed to understand his dad’s explanation and didn’t object, just went along to watch.

Much later, when Floofy died, William was eight or nine and Julie was part of our family. The two of them watched as Charles buried Floofy out near the pasture fence while I sobbed. William asked if a tree would grow up out of Floofy’s stomach. Charles said no, because he didn’t want a tree there so he’d be sure to pull it up if it started growing. I left the scene to shed my tears elsewhere.

After Floofy we had Lucky, an Australian cow dog, who tried to punish us all for not being in line, I guess. She was a terrible jumper, meaning she jumped terribly high and often. I could never get to church without having railroads up my stockings during Lucky’s days. Charles found a farmer who wanted her and none of us cried when she left.

Julie had acquired by then, through the generosity of Linda Wells, a cat named Misty,a beautiful Persian cross with fluffy gray fur. She had a sweet disposition which was very good to go along with a little girl’s whims at dressing her up and toting her everywhere. My only problem with Misty was that she was extremely good at catching anything, including our songbirds. I wanted to put a bell on her neck as we had always done in my family, to warn the birds to stay away. But Charles absolutely refused. That would be more cruel to the cat whose instinct it is to hunt than it would be for the birds to be snatched literally from the air. I still don’t agree with him. But Misty didn’t wear a bell. I can see her right now in my mind sitting on a well cover behind our house calmly bathing herself while a mockingbird bomb-dived her, pecking her back. An hour later the mockingbird would be a heap of feathers on the same well cover.

Misty got ornery as she became elderly. One day she slashed at Julie instead of playing with her. Or was that William? When Charles saw the blood on his child’s arm he grabbed Misty up and threw her bodily into a bed of lilies. That same evening I found Charles asleep over his newspaper with Misty curled in his lap looking at me with round eyes that said, “He’s mine, you know. Lay off.”

Misty went with Charles to the office one day for her annual shots and a check up. Her fur looked all ruffled, a sign she’d probably eaten a bad lizard or something. On his way home Charles stopped to leave some medicine at a client’s house, and Misty leaped out. We never could find her, though we looked diligently for weeks.

The only way not to endure heartache over your pets is not to have pets. But what a vacancy would be in our lives with no pets to make us smile–and laugh out loud–and cry.


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