MY DOG IS GETTING A FACE LIFT
by Galia Berry
©1997, All Rights Reserved
A week before my fortieth birthday, my mother calls and
asks what she can get me.
"Liposuction," I answer.
"No, come on," she pesters, "what do you
Later that day, my husband corners me. "Your mother
called and asked me what you want for your birthday. I said I didn't know.
What do you want, anyway?"
I reply: "Liposuction."
"Aw, c'mon, Hon, be serious. What can I really
It's bad enough that no one takes me seriously around
here. I was being genuine. But even more depressing, my dog
is getting a face lift. And in dog years, he's forty, too.
My dog Sandy is a fluffy, very furry sort of dog of dubious
origin who comes from the pound. He spends most of his days vegetating.
Unlike some people and their pets, I don't treat him like I would a child
. . . I've got enough of those already. He doesn't get to
sleep in bed with me, and he's not allowed to climb on furniture. In fact,
he's better behaved than most people I know. I don't even
feed him table scraps. He's relegated to eating the same thing day in and
day out . . . hard, dry kibble. What can I say? It's a dog's life. But
his teeth are white and his gums are pink and they look a whole lot better
than mine. Which is why I never imagined his need for a face lift.
About a month ago, he started to smell. Terrible. Figuring
he had rolled in something suspiciously organic on one of his trips outside,
I dutifully gave him a bath, which is quite an undertaking in and of itself.
Within two days, the awful smell returned. It wasn't an ear-infection kind
of smell, or a skin-infection kind of smell - - I am unfortunately well-versed
in diagnostic dog odors. It was this hideous, rotten smell of decay, way
beyond normal canine halitosis. I pried open Sandy's mouth, expecting to
see an abscess or infected gums, but all that greeted me were teeth more
free of plaque than my own. So I bathed him again. But even as his thick
cottony fur was fragrant with Pantene, that not-so-cloying odor of decay
He was the same dumb, faithful creature as always, and
sought attention accordingly. But his look of rejection was nothing short
of pitiful as family members pushed him away with, "Ooh, Sandy, you
stink. Go away!" Sandy was obviously going through some
sort of doggie denial, oblivious to how putrid he had become. Something
had to be done. So we scheduled a visit to the vet.
The vet diagnoses Sandy's smell immediately. "You
know how, as one gets older, one starts to lose muscle tone?," he
says, "And get all flabby and soft, even though you may not have gained
"Doc," I say huffily, "I came on behalf
of the dog, remember? " The vet assures me that he isn't
talking about my midlife crisis, although I suddenly feel horribly self-conscious
and wish I had worn a girdle.
"Well, " he continues, "just like people
get flabby and lose muscle tone as they age, so do dogs. Your dog's lips
have started drooping, and the folds of skin are trapping food particles,
which then decay and smell bad."
My dog has sagging lips! That's his diagnosis. Sagging
lips, for goodness' sake!
The vet explains there are two ways to treat the problem.
The first is to keep the fur around his mouth closely shaved, and each
time he eats, to clean the dog's mouth area with a disinfectant. I can't
even get my kids to brush their teeth, and the vet wants
me to practice dental hygiene on a dog?
The alternative is surgery. A nip and tuck. "You
know," the vet says confidently, "kind of like a face lift on
A face lift for my dog, who has sagging lips. Please, tell me I am dreaming . . . that my life has not become a theater of the absurd. A FACE LIFT FOR MY DOG!!! I can see it now: someone will ask me my dog's name, and I'll have to say (in a matter-of-fact sort of way, as though nothing in the world could be more obvious), "Why, that's Sandy: the Dog With The Sagging Lips."
Aware that humans opt for repeat facelifts as the years take their toll, I ask the vet (while clutching my purse for dear life) if he feels Sandy could become the Dog With The Recurring Sagging Lips. His comforting answer: "Don't worry about it. By the time he needs the surgery again, he'll be dead."
I schedule the surgery. It's going to cost me two hundred
bucks. I ask the vet if he'll consider a two-fer, and do a nip and tuck
on my double chin while he's at it.
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