This story appeared in Best of Writing4All 2011 and it’s a fun extrapolation of a real-life experience. If you enjoy it, please share.
Rubber Dog Balls
by Mitch Lavender
I took my Beagle, Jojo, to the vet last week to get him neutered. It’s not something I take lightly; after all, I love my dog. The reasons for this were functional and responsible. He’s started marking and he’s very hyper-active. Neutering takes care of both of these worries, and since we have no desire to stud him out, my wife and I agreed to have him fixed.
So to the vet I go, Jojo riding merrily in the car with me, oblivious to what ordeal waits for him. Pulling up at the vet’s office, I casually notice the BMW parked there, my vet’s car. It’s not lost on me that he drives a vehicle that is much nicer than my own.
Once inside, I spend a few minutes with Jenny, an assistant, who is filling out a checklist secured to a clipboard. It’s a standard procedure -neutering. Why is there a checklist?
“Do you want the standard anesthetic or the preferred one?”
“What’s the difference?” I ask. It turns out the preferred anesthetic is safer. Some animals never wake from the standard one.
“It all depends on how much you really love your dog,” she adds, not looking up from the clipboard.
That’s $35 extra. I opt in – I want my dog to wake up.
“Do you want the incision to be laser or scalpel?”
“What’s the difference?” I ask. It turns out that the laser incision has less chance of infection because it cauterizes the incision.
“It all depends on how much you really love your dog,” she adds again, not looking up from the clipboard.
That’s $65 extra. I opt in – I don’t want my dog to have surgical complications. The overall bill in now pushing $300 for getting a medium-sized dog neutered.
“Do you want prosthetic testicle implants?”
“Excuse me?” I thought she just asked if I wanted to have prosthetic testicles implanted in my dog when they removed his balls.
“We offer Neuternads, which are rubber testicles that can be implanted at the time of surgery.”
“Rubber dog balls?” I ask. Then I tack on the real question, “Why?”
“Some owners find it reduces the trauma of the process for the pet. Remember that your dog has been cleaning and enjoying his testicles all his life. He will notice when they are gone, just like he would notice if his tail or ear were cut off. Neuternads replace his natural testicles.”
“And you think he won’t notice these rubber replacements aren’t the real thing?” I stared at her for a moment, waiting for an answer. Apparently, she thought it was rhetorical. “And what does that cost, exactly?”
“$129 for the standard pair and $249 for the deluxe, ‘real-feel’ model,” She said with a straight face; props to her for that. “It all depends on how much you really love your dog,” she added.
I recalled a scene from the movie, Scanners. A guy’s head exploded, splattering everywhere. I haven’t thought of that movie in over a decade, but I now appreciated that scene and felt exactly like the exploding-head-guy.
“You make a good point. How could it not be traumatic for an animal to have such surgery? I don’t think there is any way of amending that. Thank you. You have just talked me out of having the neutering done.” I smiled, looked at Jojo, who seemed pleased with this decision, too.
“You don’t want to get your dog neutered?” Jenny asked incredulously. “What about the marking and hyper-activeness?”
I took Jojo’s leash and opened the door of the examination room. “I guess it all depends on how much you really love your dog.”
Jenny’s mouth hung open as the door closed behind us.
Jojo and I went home and while he licked his balls, I poured a glass of wine.
Jojo and Murphy. This is the imploring look I often get at night.
“Have you seen our balls? They seem to be missing.”