Monday, March 14, 2016

To Neuter or Not to Neuter

My husband and daughter were discussing who could be fiercer, him or me. 

My husband’s clincher: “Your mother’s bringing Tony to have his balls cut off – and she likes Tony.”

It’s true: Last week, I brought our new dog Tony to be neutered

Originally, I was going to write about how men do seem to feel some … ummm … resistance to the idea.

I’ve been surprised by the number of men I’ve met who don’t get their male dogs altered. Some owners will neuter but then have false balls implanted so the dog doesn’t look neutered. (Some wives will do that without telling their husbands.)

But in preparation for writing this blog post (after getting Tony fixed), I started Googling – and I fell into a wormhole.

All my life, I’ve heard that responsible pet owners neuter and spay their animals. Millions of unwanted animals are killed every year. Indeed, shelter euthanasia is the #1 cause of death for American companion animals.

But there are people against it. According to my Google surfing, these people tend to take their animals to holistic vets, feed them only raw food (which, and I’ve seen this myself, is a raging controversy), and are concerned about vaccinating.

The arguments rage. Some pro-neutering articles (like this one and this one) point out that the risk of certain cancers, which they say are deadly, are greatly reduced or eliminated by neutering. Anti-neuter people (including this vet and this vet) say those diseases aren’t deadly, but there are other deadly ones for which the risk goes up. Pro-neuter people point out that most dog bites are from unaltered animals; some anti-neuter people argue the opposite might be true.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Directing Traffic

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

After Hurricane Ike, my father-in-law suggested that regular people should get out into intersections without working traffic lights and start directing traffic. 

I said that’s the worst idea I’d ever heard.

He thought (thinks?) I was an idiot.

But haven’t you seen people, even those who should know what they’re doing, like the flagmen at construction sites, just suck at it?

Like the kid, who looks 12, in an oversized reflective vest, his hard hat falling over his eyes, his sign swinging around (Is he trying to say something or just fiddling with it?) who might be making some sort of gesture, but it’s unclear and he’s not looking at any of us. Drivers hesitate, stop, inch forward, have no idea what they’re supposed to do.

And you know those police officers who dance and play tunes on their whistles and put on a show, the ones who are covered by the local paper or news station (like this one and this and this)?

Bah, humbug: Just clearly and decisively direct traffic, please.

Actually, police officers are usually better than flagmen, maybe because they are used to having what my husband calls “the voice of command.”

According to people who have been on the other side, directing traffic is no picnic. This police chief says, if you want to see your officers fall over themselves volunteering for any other duty, just mention directing traffic. According to this retired police officer/professor, “It's fun for about three minutes. It's a little like conducting an orchestra, except all of the musicians have lethal instruments and a random number of them will try to kill you.” Directing traffic is one of the most dangerous things police officers do.

So, we might all want to thank our lucky stars, we’re not out there, directing traffic.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Remember: Failure Is An Option

One Sunday, I was driving my son to his test-prep tutor when we got detoured because of the Houston Marathon. Oh no, oh no, oh no. After much fretful and fruitless driving around in circles, it became apparent even to me (policeman directing traffic that way) that the only way left open to get where we were going was the freeway. And then it became horrifyingly clear that the only way out of the little loop of marathon I had blundered into was the freeway.

We ended up finding a restaurant (thank God), calling the tutor to explain my ridiculous predicament and having a leisurely breakfast till the marathon was over.

Well, last weekend, we were driving to his tutor again, when we got detoured because of the Houston Rodeo.

Part of the rodeo is people doing old-fashioned trail rides, coming into the center of Houston on horseback and in wagons.

Oh, yeah, well, great.

My palms were already sweaty as the GPS recalculated to an unknown, and therefore scary, route.

And that’s when my son, seeing that I was barely keeping it together  – and OK, maybe thinking breakfast is more fun than doing ACT math problems – said:

“Remember, Mom, failure is an option here.”

I have been thinking about this ever since.

Don’t get me wrong: This isn’t about not trying. In fact, this is all about being able to try, because it’s OK to fail. Nothing bad is going to happen. You can just pick yourself up, maybe have a nice laugh about it with the tutor, who confides her own imperfections, and keep going.

By the way, there was a non-freeway route to the tutor this last time. So, yay.