Henry, the $6 million dog

January 15, 2012

Dr. John JonesNo, Henry didn't really cost $6 million, but like television's legendary Steve Austin, he is bionic. At least part of him is, sort of. Two parts in particular. And, not the really important parts one usually associates with Steve Austin, but parts that, nevertheless, were important to Henry's owner, and as I came to find out, perhaps Henry as well.Henry, an English Bulldog, is a patient of Dr. Sara. Just over a year ago, he was the recipient of a pair of state of the art “Neuticles.” For those of you who don't know, Neuticles is a word combination of “new” and exactly what you're thinking. Made in the USA, these artificial implants replace that which is lost during the neutering procedure.Henry's owner, like many of our male clients, was reluctant to have him neutered. Maybe because I was brought up in the removal business, I've never had any qualms about separating any of my animals from their “particulars.” But when I encounter an owner like Henry's, I do feel a bit like a traitor to my kind, especially when I think of the thousands I so casually and apparently callously tossed into the mud and muck over the years on my farm calls.Everybody's different, however, and Henry's owner certainly had a great deal of empathy and compassion for his dog. And, he is not alone in his feelings. Since 1995, over 500,000 pets worldwide have been “neuticled.”On the company's website is a quote: “Neuticles allow your pet to retain his natural look, self-esteem, and aids in the trauma associated with altering. With Neuticles, it's like nothing ever changed.”That in a nutshell, I believe, explains why Henry's owner was hesitant, and why he agreed to surgery only if Neuticles would be used to fill the void. Although none of us in our practice had dealt with Neuticles before, Dr. Sara, young and courageous, was up to the task.Neuticles are available in four styles and many sizes to accommodate cats, dogs, bulls and stallions. “Original” Neuticles are made from FDA medically approved polypropylene and are the firmest to the touch. “Natural” Neuticles are solid silicone and have a softer, more natural feel. “Ultra Plus” models are specially designed to reduce the formation of scar tissue, which may increase the firmness of the implant. “Ultra Plus with epididymis” Neuticles are the most anatomically correct and, of course, the most expensive. A pair of “Originals” for a Chihuahua can be purchased for $119. A pair of “Ultra Plus with epididymis” for an Irish Wolfhound will cost $1,198.Henry's owner chose a nice set of medium “Ultras,” and brought them to our office to be sterilized prior to the big day.According to Dr. Sara, the surgery went without a hitch. Basically out with the old and in with the new, all through the same incision. Unfortunately, I was out on a farm call. Upon returning, I spotted Henry recovering in his cage. Lying on his side, propped up on his left elbow in a Burt Reynolds-like Cosmo pose, minus the hand, things looked, well … like they should. In fact, if I hadn't seen the clipper marks, I wouldn't have known that I missed the event.Since Dr. Sara did the surgery, why didn't she write this column? For one thing, she's too nice. I don't think I've ever heard her even say the word. Come to think of it, I haven't written it either. But, that probably has more to do with lack of maturity than niceness, I'm afraid.The main reason, however, is because I had the opportunity to see Henry as he exited the building. I was in one of our exam rooms and for some reason had to step out into the hallway. There Henry was, in full strut, head and tail — or whatever that funny corkscrew thing is — held high, exuding the kind of confidence and swagger that can only come when one's pride and dignity are intact, even if those are the only two things that are. He really did look like he felt like a million bucks, maybe six.My patient, a young, female German Shepherd named Bailey, was overcome with curiosity, and popped her head out behind me. Although we should always use caution when anthropomorphizing the thoughts and actions of our four-legged friends, the look on her face was unmistakable. She was impressed. Mission accomplished.Dr. John H. Jones operates a mixed animal practice in Delphos with his wife, Dr. Bonnie Jones. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and he raises Southdown sheep. Questions about animal care may be sent to: Dr. John H. Jones, Delphos Animal Hospital, 1825 E. Fifth St., Delphos, OH 45833.