This week, the ‘Stare of the Dog’ visits the unpleasant subject of castration, taking a look back at Dudley’s prized assets and their efficient removal. In truth, his plums were getting so large and obtrusive that it had become a reluctant necessity. Luckily for him, times have moved on, there would be no need for house bricks and hope.
Instead, Walker Green veterinary practice won the tender for this ungentlemanly act, their staff having politely nagged us to ‘book him in’ on every previous visit for months. “It’s better for their health,” so often they would chime, though I always felt it was not a consensus Dudley had ever bought into. Nevertheless, the operation was arranged for the following week. As the days counted down, I resolved, perhaps unconventionally, to appreciate Dudley’s doggy dowry in all its finery while it lasted. On many an evening, I could be found near to him, needlessly re-tying shoe laces, doing sit-ups or rummaging on the lower book shelves, all the while catching the last sorrowful glimpses of the hound’s family jewels.
On the day itself, Dudley to his credit sought no quarter and showed little fear, instead making his way to the scaffold in a manner befitting of Joan of Arc. As is standard, I was dragged into the vets behind him like an Arctic explorer trailing a dog sled. Quite why he has never picked up the slightest sense of fear or suspicion before entering the vets baffles me, though it might have something to do with the quality of treats they hand out liberally to their patients. An ignominious minute or two then passed as I attempted to entice ‘the boy’ onto a huge set of scales for the pre-fight weigh-in. As he always does, Dudley managed to slip off the back of the machine, leaving me to wrestle him into place, creating a scene more aligned to a rugby match than a veterinary clinic. Battling on stoically in my efforts to get him onto the platform, I believe I was the only person present who spotted the absurdity of the challenge, given that he was about to drop a few pounds imminently at the hands of a surgeon or two.
A casual flurry of pen strokes later and I’d signed the medical indemnity form sealing Dudley’s fate. With a solemn pat on the head I was off to work, leaving the nurse to refill the waste bin that the hound had already spilled over. I suspected there was also a brief tussle between them both as the nurse tried in vain to retrieve the pound’s worth of cotton wool buds last seen disappearing down Dudley’s throat, but I was out of there and off to work in a flash. The day passed slowly, and every time I thought about my heinous crime I winced, hanging my head in shame, a vision of contrition and guilt.
My mood lightened considerably at pick up time when I discovered Dudley was not only alive and well but also appearing to hold no grudge towards me. It lightened yet further still when the ‘cone of shame’ was introduced by the vet. To his credit, Dudley not only accepted the contraption, but wore it with a certain aplomb, strutting about the surgery like Sir Walter Raleigh in his best ruff. Stopping only for a £170 mugging at the door, dog and owner left the surgery in high spirits, though I suspected Dudley was too smacked on morphine to be offering any emotions he might call his own.
In the following days, the hound made a swift recovery, the only reminders of this treachery being the sight of his rapidly shrinking man sack and the ‘cone of shame’ he still wore with dignity. The latter temporarily transformed Dudley at walk time into a canine combine harvester, gathering pavement detritus before funnelling it behind his collar like a whale sifting krill.
On one such outing a fella shouted ‘Oi no bollocks’ from across the street. A little uncharitable perhaps, but in his defence, this was a man who obviously liked to call a ‘spayed a spade.’