Why Neutering My Dog Is Making Me Have An Existential Crisis


By the time this post is published, Monja will be sitting in his new vet’s office, waiting for his balls to be chopped off. Just what you wanted to read about on a Wednesday morning, right?

When I first got my now, 14-month old Corgi back in April, neutering him was always something I saw “in the cards.” It was hardly a choice — more of a given, really. But my boyfriend at the time, Keiji, would always give me puppy dog eyes when I’d start talking about desexing my hairy little son. He won’t be able to have puppies! He won’t be a man anymore! 

His comments really got to me, and for awhile, I considered just letting Monja be and maybe even breeding him. I imagined the sickening adorableness that could be his puppies. I imagined them having his personality, face, and charm, so that even when Monja is no longer in my life, a part of him always will be.

Over the months, I’ve seen him become more of a little “man.” He is territorial, more burly, and a master at marking the entire neighborhood in pee with one quick rear-leg-lift. Neutering him now seems like the right thing to do, but I can’t help but feel like I’m letting go of something, too. It’s hard to put my finger on it…a possible personality change? The pain he might endure because of my decision? The reality that once Monja is gone, he’s gone?

I’ve mentioned before that my personality type, INFJ, is defined as “the protector.” I never quite understood this simple definition of myself, always relating more to the alternate title of “the counselor.” But ever since getting a dog, it makes complete sense. Perhaps I never realized how protective I am because I’ve hardly had any baby birds of my own to keep under my wings. Since moving to California, I’ve cried numerous times, but not for the reasons you might expect. The tearful moments that stand out most are when Monja ran out in the street or when I caught him with a bag stuck on his head (one of the lesser-known things that can kill corgis by suffocation). The point being that the longer Monja is in my life, the more extreme happiness and pain I feel from his presence. The pain stemming wholly from the fact that I feel my own heart diffusing slowly into him — reminding me that if he were ever to be harmed, it would leave a part of me permanently damaged. Perhaps it’s always the case in dealings of motherly love.

It may sound dramatic, and maybe it is, but as a “protector” I can’t differentiate between the importance of the things and people I feel driven to shield. As Monja’s caretaker, he has leapt to the top spot and I feel an unspoken duty to ensure he has the best life possible.

So how does this relate to my decision to get him neutered? Well, it feels like one of the first moments where I’m letting myself loosen my grip. While protecting him is a good thing, smothering him is not. I know that if I want to have other little babies one day — either human or covered in fur — I need to work on letting go, at least a little. Baby birds can’t fly if their wings are always being held down. I’ve only had Monja for eight months, but it’s baffling how much he’s taught me about life and myself since. I guess the best lessons often come in the oddest packages — in this case, with six-inch legs and satellite ears. Hey…I’ll take it. :)

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Melyssa is the founder and editor of The Nectar Collective. She thrives off of making other creatives feel empowered, connected, and inspired. Most days, you can find her lounging with her dog on one side and a latte on the other. Melyssa also runs her own blog + web design studio. Say Hello!
  • http://www.artofbalanceblog.com/ Codi @ The Art of Balance

    this is one of the sweetest posts i’ve ever read! I totally feel a connection with monja just based on how much you share about him. plus all the adorable pictures and lets not forget HIS amazing posts. Animals, dogs inparticular, have always been at one of the top spots in my life in terms of what I care most about. thank you for being an owner that takes full responsibility for the quality of life their pet has! animals unconditionally trust and love us, and it warms my heart to see a situation where that trust and love isn’t taken forgranted!

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Codi! :) I totally feel you on dogs and pets having the top spot in your life…it makes me happy to find other pet owners that are as obsessed with animals as we are, too :)

  • Sarah

    I totally feel you on the strong connection we have with our little fur babies. They really are like a family member and you want to make sure that they’re always happy, healthy, and safe. A few weeks back my poor little kitty threw up up one night when I was in bed and then collapsed on the floor. She didnt move after that and it terrified me. I immediately rushed her to the vet ER and I didn’t care how much it was going to cost, I wanted her to be better. To be ok. I was so scared that my little feisty kitty was going to be taken from me. I let the doctors do what they needed to do and everything turned out fine. It definitely made me really appreciate that everything was going to be ok. Everything will be ok with your little guy too, heck you might even like some of the changes this surgery will do! Sending a speedy recovery to Monja

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Sarah! Monja is doing great now…back to his rambunctious self! :) I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty, but SO glad she has a loving mama like you to keep her safe!

  • http://www.meetwithasmile.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Kirby

    I feel the same way about my pups. My husband is a little “harder” on them than I am. I guess I’m a little lenient making excuses like “They can’t help it” or “You should’ve put your stuff up” haha But they definitely are family and bring such joy to my life that all I want to do is protect them from others or themselves. Monja will be just fine!!! =) And he’ll forget about the pain. Remember, dogs have unconditional love for their owners! He’ll forgive you! ;) It actually be more like him seeing the vet as the one who did that to him, and not you! So take comfort in that and blame the vet! =)

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      haha you’re so funny, Stephanie! I often think that the reason for pets acting out is the owner’s fault too. If Monja eats something he shouldn’t, it’s usually because I was being careless so I actually agree with your sentiments! :) Monja is back to normal now, so all is well. :)

  • http://lilixoana.com/ Liliana

    Oh hunny i totally understand you, i am the same way with my fur babies and i love to smother them, I still haven’t spayed mine and a part of me feels like i should as well because they are so territorial and their attitudes are horrible when they are in heat. But a part of me wants them to one day have puppies, but i heard leaving them this way isn’t healthy for them either so i am torn and learning towards getting it done as well. I know you did the right thing and he will not be upset or change in attitude. I heard they completely forget about the pain after a few days and are back to normal.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Liliana! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with this weighing heavily on their mind. If it makes you feel better, Monja was totally fine within a few days and back to his rambunctious self. :)

  • La Maman Heureuse

    We all sense your love for this little guy when reading your words about him. Add that loveable face and we get why you feel so protective about him. While they might seem like just a dog to others, to you he’s a furry friend on four legs and a good one as only a dog can be. Neutering may seem cruel, but if you don’t intend to breed with him (which would be totally adorable to have little Monja babies), they are mostly better off. We always neutered our dogs and they were just more calm afterwards, but their character always kept shining through.

    Yep, you’re starting to sound like a real mom (a fur mom in this case). It’s all about finding the right balance between loving and letting go. Especially that last part is one tough lesson in motherhood! But if I already see how much you love this little guy, I’m sure you’ll make an amazing mama one day!

    Btw, your description about him with the six-inch legs and satellite ears had me cracking up!

    Give the little guy a big hug and some extra loving, cause I remember how sad and groggy they always looked when picking them up! Cuddles overload totally accepted in this case!

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you for that :) I agree — it really is about loving and letting go at the same time. Still working on that second part :)

  • Alisha B.

    When I took my Porkchop in to get “fixed” I thought I was going to have a panic attack! So I know exactly how you feel..But it was done quickly and withing a couple days she was rolling around on the floor being her normal delf..isnt is crazy how attached we get to these little balls of fur?

    Alisha @ TheAlishaNicole.com

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thanks for sharing, Alisha! I totally agree — the attachment is amazing. I’m so glad both of our babies were fine after! :)

  • http://www.tossingthescript.com/ Rachel Sedaker

    As a fellow INFJ, I totally get being protective over our little furry ones. I have a hard time taking Lucy to the vet because of my own associations with the office itself (taking my last dog to be put down- which, by the way, is the hardest decision for a protector to make- and that time that I heard a grown mad say “oh god” and sob loudly behind one of the closed doors). Our dogs are extensions of ourselves, and we’re not the only ones who feel this way. But when it comes to spaying and neutering, I look at the big picture. Since I have a soft spot for animals in general, and shelter dogs make me really sad, I look at how I am helping to not create potential future shelter dogs. I want all the dogs to be happy and have homes.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you for this, Rachel. :) I can only imagine how the vet makes you feel after the associations you’d have after putting a pet down. I agree that looking at the big picture is the way to go and I comforted myself by learning about the ways it helps my dog, too (reduces certain forms of cancer). Thank you for those reminders, Rachel!

  • Tiffany

    Having him fixed is the responsible thing to do. There are millions of pets out there that need homes. He’s not any “less” of a man for not being able to breed and I really wish society would move on from that mentality. He’ll still be your little boy, he likely won’t know the difference anyhow unless you treat him that way.

  • http://www.chimerikal.com/ Erika

    I loved reading this! (STUDY BREAK!) Thank you for sharing the push and pull you feel as a pet owner. Again, the animal world is one I tend to avoid (though I let a dog sort of lay on me at Thanksgiving. I didn’t touch it with my hands, but that was huge progress). But hearing how he brings so much joy into your life (not to mention his cute face and big eyes) just melts my little heart.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      ahaha “I let a dog sort of lay on me at Thanksgiving”…spoken like a true, recovering pet dictator. Glad he melts your heart like he does mine :)

  • http://therococoroamer.blogspot.com/ Brittany Ruth

    My Louis is now 14 months too and we’d planned to get him neutered by a year. But for some reason my husband too is like so against it. I told him it was healthy for him to get neutered. Honestly though, he isn’t overly territorial with his balls intact. I really want him to get neutered but I’m having trouble justifying it and and my husband is so against it. I wish someone could just bring him for us and get it over with already.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Aww that must be a tough decision to make with another person! I’ve read that it also often helps them live longer because it reduces certain types of cancer, if that helps in convincing him! :)

  • http://perpetuallycaroline.blogspot.com/ Caroline L.

    Poor baby Monja! I have been wanting a puppy more than usual these days, and this post just reaffirmed it. I want to love something so overwhelmingly that it hurts. OK, it’s done. Once I’m out of dorm life, a puppy is coming home with me.
    Perpetually Caroline

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Aww do it! Best decision you’ll make :)

  • http://www.sunshine2thesquareinch.blogspot.com/ Beka Johnson

    Pets turn into family. I think it’s normal to feel that way when he is getting neutered. I have a cat who is so cute but not the nicest and I love him to pieces! He does tricks so that makes up for his meanness, right?

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      haha totally makes up for it :)

  • Ashley

    i’m glad i’m not the only one who has faced this. We made the decision to get Chino neutered when he was around a year old, mainly because the vet was coaxing us to do so. Saying he would be healthier and have a chance of living longer. I was super worried about it changing his personality. It hasn’t. At all. He still acts EXACTLY the same as before and is completely content. I’m sure Monja will be the same.

    The worst part of the whole ordeal….Chino tried to remove his stitches on his own (must have been a doctor in a previous life) and ripped his incision open. He had to wear a cone for almost a month and it was pretty horrific for him AND me!

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      I’m so happy to hear Chino was totally fine! Monja is back to normal now too and nothing has changed. :) Your comment scared me so he wore his cone religiously hahah. Thanks for making me more responsible! ;)

  • Rachel Murphree

    Aww. I totally understand the struggle to let go when you want to protect. I can only imagine how hard it will be for me to someday have kids! Also, I think it’s good that you were so thoughtful and contemplative about neutering him. It’s better than shrugging it off and not thinking twice, right?

    -Rachel @ With Love, Rachel

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you for this, Rachel, and for making me feel better about being a crazy dog lady. :) Monja is doing great now so I’m happy with the decision we made!

  • Awesomely Over-Zealous

    Lol he’ll be fine. :) I’ve seen this done several times and I’ve had my cat neutered. He’ll still be the same Monja you have come to know and love. I’m an ISTJ: loyal, faithful, dependable – which is definitely true since I’m an Aquarius. :P Let us know how he’s doing – I’m sure with you taking care of him he’ll be just fine and back to his old, slick ways in no time! -Iva

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thanks Iva, he’s doing great!

  • http://www.sweetcatastropheblog.com/ Diane

    I was worried when spaying and neutering my doggies but they are fine and better for you. Good luck to the both of you. P.S. You’ve been tagged! http://sweetcatastropheblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/sunshine-award.html

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Diane! :)

  • http://www.apinchofjasmine.blogspot.com/ Jasmine

    Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for this post. I have been going back and forth with the decision to get my dog neutered, mainly because my boyfriend is also saying “but he won’t be a man!” Does it really change his personality? I’m nervous! Let me know how it goes. I was going to take my dog this weekend but then I chickened out. I want to decide before he turns one next month. (Poor thing, that would be the worse birthday present. Haha.)

    • http://alwayswithoutwords.blogspot.com/ Sydney @ always without words

      Just want to offer you some advice – getting your pets spayed and neutered is SO SO SO good for them! It decreases the risk of so many disease, including cancer, and can increase their life. Personality doesn’t change; they might gain a little weight and be a little more lazy, but otherwise, they’re pretty much the same! Good luck!

      • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

        Thanks for sharing that, Sydney! :)

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Jasmine, I’m glad to see you’re thinking it through, too! Monja is back to normal now and hasn’t changed a BIT! He seemed in slight pain for a couple days but is completely fine now :)

  • http://www.crystalbrutlag.com/ Crystal @ Dreams, etc.

    I had the same debate with myself about whether or not to have my dog spayed. I was actually asked to consider whether or not I wanted to so that she could be bred. And I can totally understand why people would want her puppies… she’s beautiful and is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. In the end I decided to have her spayed and even though she was spayed before I brought her home I was a nervous wreck that day! Luckily everything went extremely well. :) I hope Monja has a quick recovery!

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Crystal! I thought of breeding Monja too, because he’s cute and has a great temperament. :) But I’m glad with our decision and he’s doing great now!

  • http://megantofrancewithlove.blogspot.com/ Megan

    Your posts about Monja always strike a chord with me. When we got Cooper fixed, I cried. I was at work and my husband picked him up from the vet and texted me that he wasn’t acting himself (just because the procedure/medicine) and it made me feel horrible!!! He was normally a very energetic dog, would always jump on me when I walked through the door and that night he just laid there. It’s seriously like having a child! Cooper was back to his normal self very quickly though and nothing really changed about his personality/behavior, besides less humping… haha.
    I hope everything goes smoothly with little Monja! He’s super adorable! :)

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Megan. :) Monja was the same way…very groggy for a day or two but completely back to his ol’ self now. :)

  • http://www.alwaysashten.com/ Ashten@alwaysashten

    I love Warner the same way you love Monja. I can only imagine how hard it was dropping him off for that appointment. You’re a good mama.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you Ashten :) He did a great job and is totally back to normal now!

  • Amber Marie

    THat first line cracked me up! I am an INFJ, too. When we open our doors, even to our balcony (three flights up), I freak out if one of our cats barely sniffs the air beyond the apartment barrier. I totally get the protecting. It will be okay, though. The pup will bounce back and probably be even more enjoyable (I know, is it possible?!).

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      You’re totally right. :) He’s fine! I was the same way when I had cats and even though we have a babygate on our front door, I hate when Monja lingers by it if the door’s open, like he’s going to jump over it or something haha. :)

  • Alyssa @ Lyss + Loveliness

    I feel your pain! My cats are seriously like children to me. We had our youngest cat spayed a few months ago, and my stomach was in knots for about two weeks because I was worried about her!

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Awww I’m glad you can relate! I hope she’s doing well now though :)

  • http://andreabrucelo.blogspot.com/ Andrea Brucelo

    I went through the same thing when I was deciding whether or not to get my Tucker neutered. I’m the mom who is concerned about everything from food he eats, dogs he plays with, etc. People would say “oh he’s just a dog” which annoys me so much since those people don’t understand the type of bond that happens! anyway, I was concerned about any personality or behavior changes and I also went through the guilt of taking away his manhood but at the end of everything Tucker is happier and healthier than ever before:) He was a little out of it for a day or 2 only because of the pain medication he was on and it was quite the sight to see my little guy with a cone around his head:p We did have to avoid a lot of activity for about a week or two so could recover but he was ready to go after about three days! I don’t even think Tuck noticed because he ignored that area for awhile. Little Monja will be fine:)

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you for that reassuring comment, Andrea! Monja is pretty much back to normal and doing great now. So happy to hear that Tucker had the same experience. :)

  • http://www.estherandjacob.com/ esther julee

    aww look at that face. i agree.. it’s hard to get the spayed or neutered. and sometimes they change, and sometimes they don’t. right now, the vet told me one of my cats is allergic to his teeth and need to get them removed… been freaking me out.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      He’s allergic to his teeth?! What in the? I would be freaking out too. I hope everything is okay!

  • http://petitepanoply.blogspot.com/ Jamie Rose

    We never had our bulldog fixed and he had a long healthy life and a super sweet disposition. He was indoors almost at all times so it’s not like he was out of the house roaming the streets getting other dogs pregnant either. The nice thing was that if we’d wanted to breed him, we could have. He was purebred and really had the sweetest personality – it would have been nice if we’d had the chance. Plus he was never overweight and monitored his own food intake so we never had to put him on a diet. Something about de-balling really creeps me out and I wonder if I’d ever have the – ehem – balls to do that to a future dog. It probably wouldn’t matter either way since I always plan on having an indoor dog.
    Good luck! Everything will be fine.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jamie! Monja lives indoors too, but we’ve had female doggie friends and have gone to training centers that feel better if he’s neutered, so it made sense for us to do it. I agree that de-balling is kind of strange and feels unnatural to do to an animal, but luckily he seems fine and doesn’t know the difference. :)

  • psyched4success

    Wow I thought I was reading my own words here! Can totally relate to everything you’ve said! Thank you, from one mother-of-a-furry-child to another. Ps I just picked up my boy Charlie from being desexed and feel this horrible pit in my stomach :(

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Aww I know that feeling! He will feel better once he’s less groggy. My little guy was totally back to normal and didn’t seem any different at all once he was feeling better. :)

  • http://toquesandrockies.com/ Maria Schaaf

    My experience is obviously a little different, as I have a cat, but… I can still very much relate to what you’re saying. We had our cat fixed the moment it was possible (they say when they’re around 5-6 months old is best). It was the right thing to do, cats multiply if they just look at each other funny. But still. Our cat is the best cat – she’s cuddly, pretty, cute, sophisticated, she loves us and we love her. When she dies? I can’t even imagine what I’ll do – and we were talking about letting her have at least one litter, but the first litter for cats (and I think dogs, too – although you have a guy, so no problem there ;) ) is generally a tough one, lots of runts and the cat would have been so little still… so we would have needed to wait for her next probably. We figured the little pain she experiences (and really, other than being a little drowsy the first couple hours she was fine) makes up for the hardship we’d all go through would she have a litter.

    Wow, this got long, sorry – anyway: I think you’re doing the right thing. Fixing your pet is part of being a responsible owner and in this case the benefit is more for other (female)-dog owners that will be thankful ;)

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Maria! I got Monja neutered about a year ago now, but you definitely brought my back to all of those thoughts I had when I handed him over to the vet and then saw his drowsy little self afterwards. It’s sad to think that our babies won’t have their own babies (gahh I want mini versions of my dog, I love him so!), but I think we both did the right thing. :)

  • Emma

    This is a really great, helpful post. I am taking my eleven month old boy to get neutered this week and I feel SICK about it. He has started picking fights with other intact males and as he is small – he is at risk of getting himself hurt. We don’t want to breed him, so neutering seems like a no-brainer – but psychologically – I am tormented. I want him to remain his happy, confident little self. I don’t want him to feel like a part of him is missing. Tormenting me! In any case, there is a lot of stuff on the net about this – and this is the first post that has resonated with me. The comments are also so helpful. No gumph about the “politics” of neutering dogs from either the “Yes” or “Nos”, just a good honest account of how it made you feel. I am commenting so you know that even so long after you wrote this post – it still has a great effect. Thank you.

    • http://thenectarcollective.com/ Mel @ The Nectar Collective

      Hi Emma! So sweet of you to share your story and kind sentiments about this post. :) I still remember getting my little guy neutered about a year ago. I cried and felt sick about it, too. But after a few short days of recovery, he was back to his usual self. I honestly don’t notice a difference in him at all. :) And I read a bunch of articles like it sounds like you have done, too! Many of them mentioned that dogs don’t have the same human sense of having “something missing” when they are neutered. That made me feel a lot better, knowing that he wasn’t sad about not being a “man” anymore. I hope you find the same with your pup, Emma! :)