In the meantime, Molly started to behave more like a male dog, mounting cushions and soft toys, although this often left her sore and unhappy. When she was six months old, we took her back to the vet, where a senior practitioner, Ross Allan, examined her. X-rays and other tests confirmed his suspicions – Molly was an intersex dog. In fact, she was most likely genetically male, meaning she was a male pseudohermaphrodite. She had a small vestigial penis within what looked like a female vulva and testicles inside her abdomen that hadn’t descended.
Molly’s condition was very rare. About one in 6,800 dogs born are pseudohermaphrodites. In 15 years of practice, Ross had never encountered another case, nor had any of his more senior colleagues. Sometimes no operation is needed, but Ross explained that Molly’s complications were likely to increase as she aged. Well-meaning friends had already suggested it might be kinder to have her put down, because she was often visibly distressed. The thought horrified us. However, Ross reassured us that an operation would make her life much easier.