D. E. Larsen, DVM
George and Smudge waddled through the door together. Smudge was some sort of a Dachshund mix. Smudge had a long body, broad shoulders, and legs that were just long enough to keep an oversized belly from dragging on the ground.
“What are you two in to see the doctor for today,” Joleen asked.
George was an older man, probably in his seventies. His description would match Smudge’s to the tee if he walked on all fours.
“I have been treating Smudge’s rectum with Preparation H for nearly a month now, and his hemorrhoids just don’t seem to change much,” George said. “I figured I better get the Doc to get a look at him.”
“You picked a good time to walk in,” Joleen said. “Doc is just finishing up in surgery, and it is half an hour before he has an appointment scheduled. I’ll grab your chart, and we can get you ready to see Doc.”
Hoisting Smudge onto the exam table was a surprising chore. He was so low to the ground and overweight, it was like bending over to pick a bag of concrete off the floor.
Taking a deep breath from that exertion, I started a routine exam on Smudge.
Starting at the nose and working toward the tail, I did a full exam on every patient before looking at the specific problem.
“You are on the wrong end,” George said. “We are here for you to look at his rectum.”
“Smudge is no picture of health,” I said. “He is well past middle age and a little overweight. We just want to make sure everything is okay before we start concentrating on one little area.”
“So, what do you find?” George asked.
“I find a couple things, George,” I said. “They are easily fixable. The hemorrhoids you have been treating with Preparation H are actually Perianal Gland tumors. They are seldom malignant, but we should remove them while they are small. They do cause some local issues when they get big. He also has a tumor in his left testicle. If you look, the left testicle is large beside the right testicle that is quite small. There is likely a Sertoli cell tumor in that left testicle. These tumors are also not generally malignant, but they produce estrogens. The estrogens probably account for some of Smudge’s belly and his small right testicle.”
“What do we need to do, Doc,” George said.
“The best thing to do is to get the tumors off the rectum and to get rid of the testicles,” I said.
“Sounds simple enough,” George said. “When can we do it?”
“We need to run some blood work to make sure his liver and kidneys are up to the surgery,” I said. “If that is okay, we can schedule his surgery next week.”
George was right on time for Smudge’s surgery appointment. George was nervous and talkative.
“I would rather have the surgery myself than to put Smudge through it,” George said to Sandy.
“You do know what they are going to do today?” Sandy says. “You know that he’s being neutered along with the rectal work, don’t you? I don’t think you would like that very much.”
“This dog means more to me than just about anything,” George says.
“We know that,” Joleen says as she leads George and Smudge into the exam room for Smudge’s pre-surgical exam. “He will do just fine. He will bounce out of here this afternoon like nothing happened.”
The surgery went well. We did the neuter first, keeping in mind to do the cleanest surgery first. The tumor in the left testicle was the size of a marble, and the right testicle was atrophied. That would be consistent with a Sertoli cell tumor. Still, just to be sure, we will send the tissues in for a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis.
In Veterinary medicine at that time, there were few options for cancer patients besides surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation were available at a couple of university clinics, namely Colorado State and the University of California. Most clients were not inclined to take such a referral.
The small perianal gland tumors were easily removed with sharp dissection, and the wound was closed with a few silk sutures. When they were this small, dogs did not seem to be bothered by the surgery.
George was anxious when he came to pick up Smudge in the afternoon. I had explained that Smudge would feel much better with the testicular tumor removed, and it should help with his weight somewhat.
“George, I want you to start feeding Smudge a reducing diet,” I said as I handed him the leash. “That means no table scraps. We want to see some space between the floor and the belly. With that tumor gone, he should feel like being more active also.”
George stopped and talked with Joleen and Sandy on the way out the door.
“Now he should be good as new in a few months,” George said. “He should be back into his old hunting shape.”
“Hunting shape, he doesn’t look like much of a hunting dog to me,” Joleen said.
“Oh, I beg to differ,” George said. “He is a purebred hunting dog.”
Joleen leaned over and looked at Smudge on the floor.
“He doesn’t look like any purebred that I know,” Joleen said. “I better get the dog book out and see if I can find him in there.”
“Smudge is a Siberian Mouse Hound,” George said flatly, not cracking a smile. “Full-blooded, he is.”
“A Siberian Mouse Hound, I have never heard of that breed before,” Joleen said. “Now I really will have to get the dog book out to look it up.”
George smiled and chuckled a little as he headed out the door, giving Smudge a pull on his leash.
“What was that all about?” I asked Joleen.
“He says Smudge is a purebred Siberian Mouse Hound,” Joleen answered.
“I think you have been had,” I said with a smile.
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/?ref=pexels