As a one-year-old male dog, Patch is beginning to be strongly influenced by his hormones. He has matured into a young adult and the testosterone surging through his bloodstream is changing the way he behaves.
Patch is usually a well-behaved animal, coming back when called and walking close to Colleen off the leash when they are out together. In recent months, he has begun to be less easily controlled. On one occasion, they were walking together on Bray seafront when Patch saw a group of dogs on the horizon. He ran off towards them, ignoring Colleen completely when she called him.
She was worried sick, because he was headed up towards the road, and she was afraid he might run into traffic. As it was, he eventually came back to her and there wasn't a problem, but she learned a lesson that day. Now, he's always on the leash when walking on the seafront.
There was another occasion recently when he caught the scent of a bitch in season. He escaped from the garden (something he has never managed to do before), and he only came back when he was tired of the chase.
Again, it was a worrying time for Colleen. He could easily have been injured or caused an accident when he was out on his own.
The final straw happened two weeks ago. Patch was outside, in the front garden of the house, while Colleen kept an eye on him from indoors. A greyhound-type dog wandered into the garden from the street. She was much bigger than Patch, and she was in season. He showed a very obvious interest in her.
First of all, he just played with her, but then he began to pester her, and suddenly, she decided that she had had enough. She snapped at him, spinning round and grabbing him by the neck before Colleen could do anything to stop her.
Colleen rushed out and managed to get Patch away from the bigger dog, and at first, she thought that he had escaped injury. There was no sign of any bleeding, and there were a few tooth marks on his skin, but no other obvious other injury.
However, over the following week, a large swelling gradually came up on the underside of his neck. It was as if a balloon filled with water was underneath his skin, and it was growing bigger and bigger.
Eventually, it was the size of a small orange, and Colleen had to bring him to see me.
I used a needle to drain the swelling: it was a "haematoma", which is also known as a blood blister. It may need to be drained a few more times, but hopefully he will make a full recovery within a few weeks.
Patch was lucky not to have been more seriously injured.
When I discussed the situation with Colleen, I explained that castration was the best answer to Patch's recent issues.
The operation removes the male hormones from the circulation, making male dogs less interested in other dogs.
Castrated dogs tend to be better behaved, less easily distracted and more home-loving.
There are also positive effects on a dog's health, reducing the risk of some cancers and other diseases. Patch would have the same lively, fun personality, but he would not be distracted by the urges caused by male hormones. Colleen has had enough of the bad effects of testosterone.
Patch has been booked to be castrated at my clinic next Tuesday, and since it is SpayAware Week, she's agreed to let me post pictures of his operation as it happens, on the SpayAware Facebook page. Log on so you can see for yourself.
> Testosterone causes some male dogs to behave badly
>Castration is the quickest way to solve the problem
>Visit www.SpayAware.ie to find out more