A few nights ago, my golden retriever puppy did a weird thing on the kitchen chair. I was standing at the counter island, where I always stand, and my daughter was in her chair across from me. Sunshine tried to climb on the chair next to my daughter, but then she kind of stopped halfway. She rested her torso and her front legs on the seat and let her hind legs dangle. It was weird. It wasn’t typical behavior.
I looked at her face. She looked morose.
She has a ridiculous puppy face, the kind of face where you’re like, “oh, that’s why there’s that cliche about ‘puppy-dog eyes.’” But it was especially pronounced. Her woe-is-me expression could have won her an Oscar. Ughhhhhhh, she would surely say, if she could say anything.
I regarded her.
There was just something about it.
“I think Sunshine might be going into heat,” I told my husband later. Ughhhhhhh indeed. We were, shall I say, less than thrilled at the prospect.
We’d planned to spay her a few weeks ago, but the vet advised us to wait a while. Sunshine is a large breed, so it’s better to wait until she’s closer to full size, the vet said. Better for her growth plates, she said. Anyway, most large breed puppies don’t have their first season until at least a year, she said.
The next night Sunshine seemed fine, no weird chair behaviors, so I let it go. I figured we had time. And then Saturday night she came in from her last outing before bed, and there was blood on the floor. There was no mistaking it.
My dog is 7 and a half months old and she is in her first heat. She could become a mother, if I let her. She could have puppies, if that’s something I wanted. New babies would be possible, and it would be in my control.
One dog diaper later — we have an expensive rug, I have no choice — I started researching what to do. It’s too late to spay her now; we’ll have to wait until May or so, when she’s halfway between her two annual cycles. We have to keep her safe in the meantime. For a female dog in heat, that apparently means keeping her isolated.
I Googled “puppy in heat what to expect” and this is the first blog post that comes up:
“Keeping your female indoors will help eliminate the fear of unwanted puppies or attacks by neighborhood males. However, keeping the female dog inside while she is in heat can also be inconvenient,” reads the dog food website Canidae.
Oh, so it’s 100 percent on the female to avoid a pregnancy — isn’t that a major inconvenience? Isn’t it? Hmmmm??
“The best option is to keep your female indoors and confined to an area such as a tiled or concrete area in the basement or garage,” the post continues.
Cool, so I need a canine Red Tent, where Sunshine can feel safe and protected and loved, and not banished for the biological fact of her femalehood. The garage, then.
This first heat will last two to four weeks, during which time she will be attractive to males, and feel a little out of sorts, apparently. She is definitely not happy. She will be anxious and nervous. She won’t be allowed to go to day camp or even on neighborhood walks, at least not without her black neoprene chastity belt. She is an adiabatic puppy, poor thing. Her heat will be dissipated only through our hard work.
And then it will be over, I guess. March will wane and April will come and then May and it will all be over. No more diaper. No more heat. No puppies. Ughhhhhhh.
*This is how Nelly spelled it, yo.
Images: Top, baby Sunshine; bottom; Iaksge at Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0