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Pet therapy for owners
By Abigail Goldman
So here's a question. If you pay to have testicle implants for your dog, or psychic readings for your horse, which of you is supposed to feel better? You, or your pet?
Jacy Sparkman will tell you he spent $400 on testicle implants for his pit bull, Methuselah, to spare the dog the shame of neutering.
Veterinarian Mark Claus spent 20 minutes neutering Methuselah, putting in Neuticles where once there were testicles. The dog didn't seem to make much of the silicone implants, but Sparkman did - part of the pit bull cache comes from owning a dog that's deadly, and owners sometimes feel neutering means losing an aesthetic they've invested themselves in.
"It wouldn't even enter into a girl's mind," Sparkman said. "But a guy's always thinking, we've got to cut them off?"
Claus installs Neuticles once or twice a year. Sometimes clients push for bigger prosthesis than necessary. Typically, they own Rottweilers or pit bulls. "We're not doing your cute little Shih Tzus or poodles," he said.
Testicle implants may exist only in the most macho realm of animal affairs, though there's a procedure and practitioner for every animal lover hoping to pacify or paint themselves in their pet's image.
Beverly Hills, Calif., veterinarian Alan Shulman won't give dogs Neuticles - he thinks they're needlessly cosmetic - but will perform puppy nose jobs, breast reductions and face-lifts.
The pet plastic surgery procedures, Shulman says, are about improving an animal's physical health - dogs who can't see through their wrinkles sometimes benefit from a $1,000 eyelift while cats who have constant urinary infections are often improved after a $1,500 vaginal rejuvenation, Shulman said.
"If you're an ethical vet, you're not doing it for vanity," Shulman said. "Some dogs have such pendulous lips that they're constantly wet or irritated and people don't even want to pet their own dog because they get a handful of slobber."
The veterinarian insists pet plastic surgery isn't about making a 12-year-old dog look 6 again, but does acknowledge it's a realm of animal care that caters almost exclusively to the wealthy.
Shulman culls his clients from Hollywood's red carpet and won't name names, but cites, as an example, a young actor who rescues an aging, overbred female dog from the pound. The dog may have prohibitively pendulous breast tissue that Shulman can lift, even sculpt, out of the way.
The surgery isn't about making the dog look better for the owner's sake, Shulman says, although paying thousands of dollars to nip and tuck a mutt that just dodged euthanasia might be its own form of self-serving altruism.
Dog owners that request Neuticles, Shulman notes, often seem to be the same men who drive very expensive sports cars.
"Where do you draw the line as far as necessary procedures versus excessive? I think that line is a very gray zone," Shulman said.
Terri Jay began working with animals more than 10 years ago and learned quickly that pet problems are often people problems. The Reno-based pet psychic only wanted to do readings on animals, but found the pet owners' issues were folding into her practice, which consists of in-person and phone consultation.
According to Jay, who has performed psychic readings on tigers, rats, hamsters and horses, animals manifest their owners.
"Sometimes my (psychic) guides will just shake their head at the animal and say, 'No, not there,' and I'm led right back to the person," Jay said.
Starla Slaughter invites Jay to her Las Vegas home two or three times a year. Slaughter, a competitive rodeo barrel-racer, has Jay perform "maintenance" readings on her horses.
Once while getting ready for a race and struggling to make good time, Slaughter asked Jay to do a reading to determine whether anything was wrong with her horse. The psychic assured Slaughter her horse had a bruise that would be gone before the competition. A believer could say Jay sensed the horse's injury. A skeptic might argue she recognized a rider's nerves.
"Sure enough," Slaughter said, "it wasn't a big deal."
Jay is now a part-time life coach, working with people about their problems at face value, though she still performs regular psychic readings for clients across the country.
Occasionally, she consults with pet owners weighing euthanasia. Grieving is often eased with the knowledge a precious family pet is coming back to Earth in another body, said Jay, who charges $60 for sessions that can last until the animal, or the client, is satisfied.
Abigail Goldman can be reached at 259-8806 or at email@example.com.
Source: Las Vegas Sun