My husband recently brought home a beagle puppy, and after we'd had Daisy almost 2 months, I figured I should call the vet to set an appointment for getting her "fixed." The dog, not the vet. However, the night before Daisy was scheduled for her pre-op labwork, I came down with a stomach flu and had to postpone. After I recovered, I got distracted with life, and set the dog's "fixing" on the backburner. What's the rush anyway? She's not even 10 months old and it's the middle of winter. I'm pretty sure dogs don't mate until they're much older and only in the springtime. We've got plenty of time.
The week before Christmas, my 9-year-old daughter comes running to me all concerned. Mom! Daisy's bleeding! What? I examine the dog thoroughly, which is fun, but can see nothing other than a pinkish tinge around her pee-pee thing. It probably wasn't even blood. Everything's fine.
That little scare, which I proved completely baseless via my knowledgeable analysis of beagle parts, reminds me that I probably should re-schedule the vet appointment, just so everything's taken care of before spring arrives. I could probably wait another year before our dog is old enough to reproduce, but better safe than sorry I always say.
I score an opening in the vet's schedule three days before Christmas and drag Daisy in for her labwork, which goes relatively quickly and painlessly. Although, of course, they couldn't retrieve a fecal sample because she was "cleaned out at the moment," so Kim, would you be so kind as to collect a FRESH FECAL SAMPLE in this here vial and bring it back? Oh, sure, no problem. Remember, Kim, it can't be frozen, it has to be FRESH. Yes, I understand. A FRESH FECAL SAMPLE. Yeah, yeah, I've got it. Now will you stop using the words FRESH and FECAL before I throw up?
As I'm gathering my things, the lab technician asks nonchalantly, By the way, is Daisy about ready to start her heat cycle? I play dumb and mumble, "I don't know. How can you tell?" The lab tech grabs Daisy, whips her over onto her back, grabs her little pee-pee thing, and squeezes it. A drop of blood comes out. Looks like she's going into heat. We'll have to wait until she's finished before fixing her. Oh, no, she din-n't.
So how long does this heat process last? A couple days? The lab tech laughs cheerfully, Oh, no, no, no. Two to three weeks. What the candy cane? You've got to be kidding me. I've overnight guests coming for Christmas. And a house full of family and friends showing up for dinner. The last thing I need is a baying, bleeding beagle joining in the merriment.
Visions of Night of the Dead dance 'round my head, except instead of zombies moving across the yard toward my isolated farmhouse, I'm picturing lust-fueled male dogs of every size and breed throwing themselves against the French doors, trying to break the panes of glass so they can get inside and reach innocent, bleeding Daisy. With my Christmas guests gaping in horror.
Long story, short: vets recommend spaying or neutering your pet any time after 6 months of age. If you don't heed that recommendation, you're stuck with a beagle in heat for a good three weeks. Also? FRESH FECAL SAMPLE.
Dinner last night: white chili, cornbread