Sometimes we can be so influenced by what we see, hear, or experience on a regular basis, that we forget there are other options. Or at the very least, possibilities.
I recently had a very cool conversation with my friend Lisa from Australia, in regards to the desexing of competition dogs. We both own intact males so we talk sex sometimes If you desex a male dog would you have a more focused dog, or does it boil down to more training, more exposure to new and different, and a strong handler/dog relationship? If you have a problem during competition is it because of the testosterone driving the male, or is it training? Is desexing even necessary if there is no health issue? If you do a great job with your intact male dog in regards to socializing, exposure, training, and the relationship, how can you be sure others have done the same, and your male will be safe?
Then I received a reply to my post Sex and the Male Dog from one of my blogging friends in Norway, Bente Haarstad. She mentioned that it is illegal to spay/neuter a dog in Norway. W-w-w-w-haaaat?!
In a nation such as America, that is cramming stray and unwanted dogs into every available rescue/shelter, and then euthanizing millions more each year, Norway’s law might make you gasp, or even throw a tantrum! But only at first glance. Their laws make sense, and would make any dog person from America to Australia envious. Respect and relationship seem to be the foundation.
In America it really isn’t IF you are going to spay/neuter, but rather when. While rescues would like to see every dog desexed yesterday because of over population, we are known worldwide as a heavy desexing country, believe it or not. Whether you want the testosterone in your dog longer for healthier growth plates and joints, or buy into the new movement Fix at Four, there are always conversations on desexing, always.
Are we desexing because of our dog over population problem, or to make things easier for the owner? Let’s be super honest about that one!
Norway does not have an over population problem when it comes to dogs. There are rarely strays, if ever. People use leashes and restraints when required. The culture in Norway is such that when you get a dog, you are expected to spend time training and building a relationship with your dog (that is so refreshing!). Spay/Neuter is a case by case basis, based on health, utility, or behavioral concerns.
Is Norway a perfect Utopia for dogs and their owners? I don’t know I don’t live there, but it sounds pretty awesome! In an article by Science Nordic some veterinarians have mentioned that they treat dog to dog bites more often than what they have seen in the United States. Growling, barking, or difficult to walk in public are other problems mentioned. In reality, all Utopian thoughts set aside, I would imagine there are people who don’t follow through with training, don’t understand dogs, or have been abusive, just like any place else in the world. And for sure, dogs that don’t have great temperaments to begin with? Norway we would love to hear from you!
So here is some really cool information that I think we can all agree is pretty crazy awesome!
The Norwegian Animal Welfare Act (NFSA) makes it clear that surgical procedures are not to be used to adapt animals to the needs of humans, unless strictly necessary. Woop! This means you come at the relationship together and work at it together.This, in and of itself, makes me smile.
They also state that neutering is not a substitute for training. Now if you are reading this and are from America, or a desexing heavy country, be honest and raise your hand if you have neutered because of an unwanted behavior. Here is my hand being raised, I have done that in the past. And it isn’t uncommon.
The NFSA, a government agency, did relax some of it’s spay/neuter laws from what I have recently read. Starting in this year, 2012, they will permit neutering if it helps give a dog a justifiable quality of life, including social contact with other dogs.
As for me, I like what Norway has to say, so does Story! From how I am understanding things, it isn’t just about desexing, it’s about quality of life, and responsibility to another living being, woop! I like that there are no stray animals, and that the culture expects dog owners to be responsible. This expectation being socially acceptable is worth gold in my world. I love that dogs are dogs are dogs, unless there is a problem that needs medical assistance.
I for one have learned something new, which is always a good thing.
Perhaps we can start shifting to higher expectations of dog owners and their responsibility? Perhaps we can truly out law puppy mills, mass breeders, and kennels with twenty breeding pairs to help curb over population? Perhaps we can look at dogs as perfect from the day they are born and not medically alter them? Perhaps we can all find more value in relationship, teaching, and the journey together?
Nancy, who appreciates and loves her neutered and intact male dogs!