Yesterday, I wrote about a foster dog who came to us with an extensive birth defect in his urogenital system.
He was supposed to be neutered and partially repaired today, but when she realized how major the problem was, our wonderful vet started making calls. She’s looking either for advice or for a veterinary surgeon who might take the case pro-bono.
The condition — perineal hypospadias — is unusual enough that even a vet from a clinic in the Big City (and in this case, I really mean The Big City, not just the place I laughingly call The Big City) hadn’t performed surgery on this deformity in 20 years. But he did recall the case and its outcome.
His recommendation (ouch): completely remove our boy’s penis, sheath, testicles, and scrotum; leave the opening in the rear from which he pees. So, although he may continue to lift his leg like a boy, to all external appearances and in the way he urinates, he will be female.
As with female dogs, our boy will always have a higher risk of urinary tract infections (in fact, he has one right now). But with “boy parts” removed, he’ll have a lower risk for post-surgical complications.
So the question is: When we put him up for adoption do we list him as a male or female?
This is one of those times I really wish dogs could talk. Of course, maybe if he could he’s just say, “Don’t touch my junk!” Which wouldn’t be terribly helpful.
But since hypospadia is, genetically speaking, associated with hermaphroditism, it’s quite possible that if he could talk, he’d tell us, “I feel more like a female” or “No, I’m a macho boy despite the weird parts.”
Yeah, I know with canines it doesn’t matter as much as with humans. But it might matter to a potential adopter. Of course, we’ll disclose the whole situation and advertise him — or her! — as a special needs dog. But what would you say? Male? Or female?
Funny how the mind works. Our boy came to us with a “gender neutral” name (volunteers learned it from a neighbor of the man who abandoned him). But the name wasn’t an easy one to say, so everybody automatically gravitated to another name — which happened to be very masculine.
Silly, but it’s going to twist my brain a bit if we decide that “he” should be listed as “she.” My mind has already defined him a male. I see him not only as a biological male, but as a — yes, sorry to say — a male in several stereotyped ways. But when I step back, it’s clear that all that definition is in my own mind, not really in his behavior.
Photos (added per request):