While I was napping today I had one of those powerful "Ah Ha!" moments. I had gone for a walk with the dogs in the park, and was lying in my bed peaceful and content, Ryder nestled against my legs, Diva squirming against my torso, with Tessa snuggled up in "her" closet. I was giggling as Diva clowned and wiggled, madly trying to lick any available skin she could reach. When she finally gave up and hopped off to find some trouble to get into, Ryder slithered his way up and rested his head on my belly. I lay there feeling the silky softness of his ears and it came to me.
Over the past few weeks it has cemented that Ryder is my dog. I adore him. He has so many quality that I appreciate. I love his sense of play. I really love that when it's quiet time, he's quiet. He's been my faithful shadow as I'm house and couch bound. Laying patiently at my feet while I sit with my foot in the air. I enjoy the fact that he's a bit of a suck and loves to cuddle, placing his head on my lap or knee. And I'm having fun working with him on the stock where he's starting to show some promise.
So as I lay there, thinking about our walk today, stroking his soft fur, the words of Tracy echoing in my head, "Are you going to neuter him?" To be honest I'd planned to leave him intact. Why? Because that's what herders do. Many (not all, but I'd hazard a majority) of working dog people never spay or neuter their animals until they've proven their ability - something that can take upwards 2-3 years to discover completely. So there I lay, petting my pet when it came to me - I can do whatever I want.
I had already decided that he'll be with me forever. The thought that I can do what I want seems somewhat astonishing. Because it doesn't really matter. Who care if he's neutered? In fact, I prefer spay/neutered pets. It makes life significantly easier. Ryder is just discovering he's a boy making now the perfect moment.
It seems funny that this hasn't occurred to me before. Perhaps it was when I was looking for a pup (Reba) there were few to be found, whereas now there are a dime a dozen out there. And realistically speaking, I wouldn't consider a pup for at least 4 years. That's 4 more years of keeping an intact dog just for the sake of it. A dog that may not make the cut anyhow. Ridiculous.
**For all of those horrified by the fact that I allowed my dogs to "sleep" with me, understand that at night the two young dogs are crated or in the x-pen in another room, and Tessa is in her closet (loose). I had long ago decided having a snug with them well worth having them on the bed.**