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châtrer (shaah-tray) verb

    : to castrate, to neuter

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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

If our Golden Retriever, Smokey, were here to write his Day in a (Dog's) Life column—yes, here—instead of at the vet's office—he might have captioned today's photo: "Some chats have all la chance!"

He might even wonder why the French word châtrer had anything at all to do with little ol' him...
when, clearly, with the prefix "chat," does this emasculating mot begin!

Oh, walways me, walways him—wish the both of us luck at the veterinarians!


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Tim Averill

I crossed my legs while reading this one!

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

Hi Kristin, Smokey et al.

I'm sure you've avoided having to go anywhere near a medical facility after what you've been through. But they did help to make you better and they will take good care of you today. Rest and enjoy some more pampering from the family. We look forward to seeing some pictures of you springing back to your old self real soon.

Karen in Towson, Md. USA


Wishing you smooth sailing in Paris!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Karen! I appreciate your note. Im working on my speech now. I hope to remember all the points....


Hi Kristin,
Smokey will be fine and so will you! Good luck Monday! Are you going to have a video done of your speech? The last one was great!

julia Frey

Hi Kirsten,

Thought it would interest you to know that when I said châtrer in reference to our adolescent chat Pierrot's recent surgery, our vet corrected me, saying "castrer". Allez savoir !


Kristin Espinasse

Salut Eileen,

Jean-Marc will be filming! Ill be sure to post the video -- thanks for asking!

Pat Cargill

Dear Smokey B Dokey, Maxine and I send you our heartiest wishes for quick recovery from the snip-snipping and know that you will be just peachy soon. Maxine had the same surgery, early in her life, albeit a tad different, of course. She lies curled up beside me and seems to be dreaming-- making little noices and twitches. Perhaps she dreams of running through vinyards in the sunny fields of France. Her Mother certainly does...perhaps in the fall.

Bon chance, K, with your presentation in Paris. Know you will do a beautiful job.

Tami (Austin, TX)

Oh, little Smokey is growing up! It's OK, fuzzy one. You'll be your playful self again in no time. :)

Kristin, enjoy your presentation in Paris! It'll be wonderful.

Jacqui McCargar

Kristi, Bon Chance in Paris! I'll be there in spirit!

Jacqui McCargar

Oppede le Vieux is a wonderful place to wander around, the church high on the hill and all the steep cobblestone streets...wish I was there...sigh!


It's so hard to believe that March begins next week! I wish I could be there in Paris to listen, learn and meet you. As they say in the theater, "break a leg!" We can't wait to hear how it went for you.

Bill in St. Paul

I have mixed feelings about neutering a beautiful dog like Smokey when he could be a good breeding male, but, on the other hand, after what he's been through, this will keep him closer to home.

Growing up we had a mixed breed dog and every time the female dog two blocks away went into heat, our dog would disappear for several days to hang out outside her yard, coming home only to eat. This was back in the days when dogs were not kept fenced in and people were not so conscientious about neutering or fencing in their dogs.


Oh poor Smokey. He'll be walkng funny.
Take care :)


Smokey, around here we call it getting tutored. Our dog boy Gordy sends his regards-and condolences on the castrer. He says that cone collar is really irritating but you won't have to wear it for more than a day or two.

Devra Long

Smokey will enjoy all the TLC when he comes home! Kristin, bonne chance in Paris; all your FWAD friends will be with you in spirit!
Calins to you and Smokey,


Smokey will not be walking funny! We've had two golden boys, and they didn't even know what happened. Didn't have to wear cones, either. In fact, the biggest problem was they weren't allowed to run for ten days. Now THAT was a problem. Try keeping a young golden down.

Good luck in Paris, Kristin. We will be coming back to Paris from Spain that day, or I would come listen.


I don't want to be reminded of how traumatic this experience was for my husband and I when we had to take our two kitties to the vet. And one of them had to return because they screwed up his procedure...we were thrilled by contrast that the doodles were such troopers and thrilled to be home with us!

I think Smokey will be just fine! : )

Have a great Wednesday!


Kristin Espinasse

Hi Julia friends, Smokey and I are back from the vet (alls well... and a bit swell)... Julia, I asked the vet about chastrer and she confirmed what your vet said: castrer is the word. She says that châstrer would be difficult to find in the dictionary... I found it online (at dictionary) when trying to avoid using a word (castrer) that was too similar to castrate. Zut!


Bon courage a Paris, Kristin ! Those of us not fortunate enough to be able to join you there will look forward to seeing the video. (Merci, Jean-Marc !)

Et bon courage a Smokey. . . !

Kristin Espinasse

Cyndy: re no cones: thats reassuring, because Smokey didnt get one! I was told to keep him away from Braise, who is always washing him down. Sorry to miss you in Paris. Have fun in Spain!

Georgie et Gordie: tutored is a new word for me. Glad you sent it as, just afterward, Jeff send a Far Side cartoon (one that I wouldnt have understood without your help!)

Marianne Rankin

We have deux chats males castres. Since we also have a third, female cat, I looked up "spay," and it said "enlever les ovaires de," which seems a bit long. Is there a shorter term?

Some people don't like the idea of spaying and neutering pets. We got ours from shelters, and had to promise to have the procedures done, and furnish proof, as soon as they were old enough. The purpose of such operations is to prevent an explosion of unwanted pets, whose lives in turn are pretty miserable without owners.

Hope Smokey will rebound soon. Kristin, good luck with the Paris talk, which I hope eventually to view on video.


Smokey will be up to his old tricks in no time. Bon chance to you, Kristin, in Paris. Wish I could be there, but not quite enough time to buy a ticket and cross the ocean. So . . . I'll be looking forward to the video being posted.

Candy in SW KS

Years ago when I took my rot/lab to be "fixed" it was to our family vet whom I had known since I was 7! At the bottom of the form that I had to sign when I picked up Rocky after the procedure, dear Dr. Vern had written, "Rocky is now Rockette"! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry :) All of my dogs have been fixed and none have suffered any dire consequences. On another note, bonne chance a Paris chere Kristin! Wish I could be there to meet you and hear your presentation. Un de ces jours . . .

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

So glad to hear Smokey is doing well. He is such a cutie pie.

Best of Luck in Paris, I know you will do wonderfully. Wish I was there to see you! Can't wait to see the video.

Bill in St. Paul

Just so Marianne doesn't think I'm one of those people who don't like the idea of spaying and neutering pets, both our Golden male and male tom (that's redundant) were neutered. I think all pets that are not going to be used for breeding should be neutered, the pet owner will be happier and the pet is (usually) happier and less wild.

Christine in Salt Lake City

Bonne Chance a Paris! Wish I could be there. Sigh... Looking forward to the video though. I'm sure you'll be great!

Sunny and warmer (high of 45) today in Salt Lake City.


Aww...Smokey not the CONE COLLAR!! When our Tully the Maltese was done she wouldn't have a bar of the cone collar and kept slipping it off her head in a Houdini-like manner so I ended up cutting the ends off a black stocking leg and slipping it around her middle to protect the about a "femme fatale"!! Did the trick though!

Kristin, have a wonderful time in Paris and I know your talk will be perfect!


Hey...lucky! Just saw that you won't have to have a cone collar after all!


There have been mounting evidence that spay/neutering, especially before the closing of the growth plates (around 18 months for large breeds) carries more risks than benefits for male dogs. I wish I had had a chance to share this article before the decision was made.

That said, if an owner can't or won't be diligent in supervising the animal, neutering does help reduce the explosion of unwanted pets but the health benefits to the dog are minimal.

Christine in Salt Lake City

Oh dear. I just wanted to add that most dog owners in the US spay/neuter their pets and most pets live long and happy and healthy lives. Our 2 dogs lived happy and healthy lives, and passed away at ages 12 and 16 respectively.

Lee Isbell

Gosh, do you remember all the grief Kristin took when she decided to let Braise have puppies before being spayed? Do what you think is right for your "family," Kristin, both human and otherwise. My Larousse Pocket Dictionary has both castrer and chatrer, with identical definitions. Guess you can take your pick.

You will do well on your presentation. I know.

Candy in SW KS

A quick aside: my Fr/Eng dictionary gives these words for "neuter" - chatrer and couper (ouch!)

jan greene

How lucky we feel to be one of your fans who will see you on Monday. There is no question that you will be a big success. You have such experience writing and gathering in a large supportive community, this talk will be a 'walk in the park'. See you Monday! jan and tom

Judythe Sieck

Sometimes I think we should neuter humans instead of animals.

But everything will be fine. They've had a lot of practice. . . we don't want darling Smokey to grow up to be a boor.


Linda Chandler

Kisses, Smokey, everything will be okay. Enjoy your presentation, Kristin. I know your audience will. Linda in Arizona, US

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you Jan and Tom--and to everyone for sending such encouraging messages for my next talk! Your support is making all the difference and, so far, the pre-talk jitters (which have been known to arrive *months* ahead of time) havent been torturing me! Merci beaucoup!

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