Attracting Amour At The Dog Park

Communicating with animals ala Dr. Doolittle would be cool. Heck, it would make my job a lot easier. With just a few words, I could find out why a pet wasn’t eating or where it hurts.

Then again, who needs easy? Sometimes a challenge is much more rewarding.

Mr. Toyama came in with his 10-year-old yellow Labrador, Taro, for an annual exam. After a serious discussion about kimchee recipes, I asked if Taro had any concerns.

Shifting uncomfortably, Mr. Toyama said, “Doc, I know you’re going to scold me about Taro’s weight. You wanted me to exercise him more and, well, as you can see, he’s heavier than last time.”

Sure enough, Taro had gained 5 pounds since his previous exam.

I nodded. “It shouldn’t be difficult to increase his activity. Even though Taro is 10 years old, he still acts like a puppy.”

“Oh, you’re right, Doc. Taro enjoys going for a walk and playing ball. He also had fun meeting his doggy friends at our favorite dog park. Recently, however, his friends started to act weird around him.”

Mr. Toyama paused and appeared reluctant to continue.

“Tell me what went on.” “Well,” he said, “I guess there is no easy way to say this but to just say it: Taro’s friends started to hump him whenever he joined the group.”

At this point Mr. Toyama stood up, presumably to demonstrate. I stopped him and assured him that I knew what he meant.

“It started months ago. Toward the end, Taro would get agitated, and I felt as though it was no longer a pleasant outing for him,” Mr. Toyama sighed.

I could see the angst in his eyes.

“Mr. Toyama, humping can be a normal greeting between dogs,” I replied. “Some people believe that it’s a way for the pack to sort out the pecking order.

“That being said, Taro could actually have a medical condition that could cause the dogs to hump him.”

I proceeded with my physical exam and soon found what I was looking for. Taro’s right testicle was twice as big as his left. I immediately discussed surgery with Mr. Toyama to remove what I suspected was a tumor. He agreed, and we set a date for surgery.

Even though Taro was an older dog, he did very well under anesthesia and went home as scheduled on the day of surgery. The biopsy analysis of his testicle was a Sertoli cell tumor. I explained to Mr. Toyama that this type of tumor can produce a female hormone (estrogen), and it was this hormone that made Taro attractive to the other male dogs. Now that the tumor was removed, things should go back to normal, and they can once again go back to the park.

This is one situation where communicating with a pet would not have solved the problem. Taro wouldn’t know what an enlarged testicle means.

Then again, it would have been interesting to know what Taro was thinking as his doggy friends salivated at the park.

“Dude, not cool,” or “Keep your filthy paws to yourself” sound about right. Yikes! Either way it was a nutty situation, so to speak.

Dr. John Kaya is the director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital.