As most of our readers know, when a dog is adopted from a reputable shelter or rescue, it is either already spayed or neutered, or the adopter is required to sign a contract stating the dog will be neutered in the future. (In many locales, this is required by law, but not always.) In essence, shelters and rescues constantly work to put themselves out of business—by preventing unwanted litters. In addition to the societal benefit of keeping the population of unwanted dogs low, spaying and neutering also confer health benefits on the dogs. For example, the risk of testicular cancer in male dogs increases dramatically in intact dogs. For female dogs, the risk of pyometra (infected uterus) and mammary cancer decreases with spaying. Studies show that sterilized dogs live longer lives than their intact counterparts. Perhaps this is due to neutered males being less likely to get into fights over females or getting hit by cars while roaming to find a female in heat.

However, there are studies showing benefits to allowing both male and female dogs to go through puberty before altering them. One of the benefits is proper bone growth: puberty triggers a release of hormones that close the growth plates in the long bones of the dog, thus ensuring that the bones do not overgrow and cause adverse effects on the bone:joint relationship. Some vets report that certain dogs who have been spayed/neutered too young develop orthopedic issues, such as patellar luxation and hip dysplasia, later in life. Some studies have shown that, in certain breeds, early spay/neuter actually causes adverse effects, including cancers and behavioral problems. For example, female golden retrievers spayed pre-puberty have a higher rate of mast cell tumors, while male golden retrievers neutered as juveniles develop lymphosarcoma. When spayed as juveniles, Vizslas also show increased incidence of certain tumors as well as the development of behavior issues, including fear of storms.

Certainly, more research on these phenomena are needed. Furthermore, some veterinarians disagree on the interpretation of some of the cancer studies in these breeds, and caution that other factors including diet, weight and lifestyle of the dog may contribute to the incidence of disease. The bottom line is this: If you adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue, chances are it will be fixed, and on balance, that’s a good thing. If you got a purebred puppy from a breeder, it is important to discuss the pros and cons of neutering with your veterinarian.

As we told you last week, we have a quiet little fairy dog at the shelter. Pixey is a shy Yorkshire terrier female who arrived as a stray and has spent the last couple of weeks getting healthy and gaining strength and confidence. We don’t know how old she is—the vet thinks she may be around 5 years old—and she weighs less than 8 pounds. She is a real stoic—she doesn’t bark or whine at all. Instead, she prefers to keep a watchful eye on her surroundings from a seat in the corner or in some dark place where she doesn’t draw too much attention. She’s not a big fan of walks, preferring to get her exercise in short bursts. She doesn’t mind being held, carried, or lying in someone’s lap, and she rewards being petted with kisses of appreciation. We’ve found that her demeanor perks up in the presence of another small dog. She was very interested in Luna, seeking her out and giving her submissive face licks. A house with another small, well-behaved, confident dog, about the same age as Pixey, might be a good fit. Pixey is not well suited to families with small kids, not only because of her small size, but also because of her introverted nature. A quiet household without a lot of hubbub is best for this little girl. If you think Pixey is the perfect companion for you while you’re finishing off that summer read on the sofa, please drop by the shelter to see her.

Luna, our young, charcoal-and-brown, mixed-breed female will most likely be in her forever home when this article goes to print. We always like to continue to advertise our dogs, however, because sometimes adoptions don’t work out for unanticipated reasons. It’s unlikely that will be the case for Luna, because this little dog has such an engaging personality, and has been a sweetheart to most every person and dog she has met. We advise that you check our Facebook page for up-to-date information on Luna’s status.

We are so excited to share that Friends of Falmouth Dogs (FFD) has been selected to be a part of the Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program, which is designed to make it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment.

For the month of August, each time a $2.50 reusable GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Bag is purchased at the Shaw’s on Teaticket Highway in East Falmouth $1 will be donated to FFD, unless otherwise directed by the customer through the Giving Tag. This is a great way to raise awareness, support the environment and fund-raise for our cause.

Let’s get started! We can begin by spreading the news to our friends and family. Call, send emails, and post on social media. The more people who learn about the program and purchase the GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Bag during August, the more money we will raise.

To learn more about this program, please visit shaws.bags4mycause.com.

FFD is at 150 Blacksmith Shop Road, Falmouth. We are open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM to noon, Mondays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 PM, and Sundays 3 to 5 PM. We can be reached at 508-548-7742, or visit at friendsoffalmouthdogs.org.

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