Animal Anecdote 50
The phone call was from a human physician inquiring If I was familiar with the surgery to devocalize dogs. I answered, “No” and he said there was a surgeon in his research laboratories who had performed the surgery for many years and was soon to retire. Would I be interested in learning the technique and performing the surgery from time to time for animals in his laboratories. I was always interested in learning something new.
A week later a group of physicians arrived with two dogs and the surgeon. Much to my surprise the “surgeon” was an immigrant from Italy years before who brought the technique with him. Somehow I expected a renowned human surgeon but was happily surprised to observe the simplicity as well as the rapidity of the procedure.
Although rarely used for clients’ pets we had a kennel of over 100 dogs and living in the suburbs human housing was being developed closer and closer to the noise of so many dogs from time to time. I devocalized all the trouble making barkers and we rarely had complaints over barking dogs. The voiceless dogs continued to bark but made little sound.
I presume many readers would be concerned with the thought of taking the voice away from a pet but there were situations in which a pet would have to be eliminated for being too noisy and that situation was brought to life long after my retirement.
I had occasion to bring my late wife to an outstanding dermatologist in a neighboring city when, after the consultation he told me this story. His family had acquired an all American mongrel that grew to be an important member of the household of his and his wifes and their two children. As the puppy matured she became a wonderful watch dog. She always stopped barking when asked to but there were times when there was no one present to ask her to stop.
Barking muzzles were useless-she barked without opening her mouth very much. They resorted to using force by hiding and swatting her with a fly swatter but she knew they were nearby and never made as much as a wine at such times. The neighbors were suffering but finally complained. She would bark from the moment the house was empty of family and continue until one member returned.
The doctor and the family had agreed that the dog must go. The doctor presented the barking pet to me for advice including the possibility of euthanasia. I had suggested the debarking surgery and the dog was left for the procedure. Here it was 25 years later and the doctor wanted me to know the solution was perfect. Their dog continued to bark but in a wisper-enough to let them know someone was coming or to go out but never again did they have a neighbor’’s complaint. The dog remained a cherished member of their family until their children had graduated from college and she died of old age complications.
Next: No hips at all.