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Tag: implants

The Neuticles story: How fake dog testicles made this Missouri man a millionaire

netuclesleashes1

Just in case you didn’t get enough of dog testicles yesterday, today we bring you the story of a man who built an empire atop them — specifically, silicone prosthetic implants than can make a neutered dog feel “whole again.”

Neuticles are nothing new.

Gregg Miller came up with idea well nearly two decades ago, persuaded a veterinarian to join him in the venture, and the rest is history.

For those interested in delving into that history, the book is entitled “Going…Going…Nuts.”

CNBC reported this week on how Miller’s idea — thought insane by most — became, after more than a few ups and downs, a viable business

In the mid-90’s, Miller’s bloodhound, Buck, ran away from home — apparently after the unneutered hound picked up the scent of a female dog in heat. He was found four days later a few miles away.

buckleashes1That’s when Miller said he realized he needed to neuter Buck, or “this is going to happen again.'”

Even before the surgery, Miller says he asked his veterinarian if anyone made implants for neutered dog. The vet told him that was “the craziest damn thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Miller said he wanted Buck to “maintain his God-given natural look.”

After the surgery, he said, Buck would would give him looks. “He was telling me, ‘They’re gone. What happened?'”

Miller eventually sold his veterinarian on the idea and they lined up 32 local investors who spent over $100,000 to develop Neuticles.

The veterinarian tested the first prototypes on 30 different pets without any problems, and the first commercially implanted Neuticles went into a dog in 1995.

Was that a proud day for his parents? Not exactly. “My parents, who were alive back then, thought I was absolutely crazy,” Miller says. “Everybody that I knew thought that was the sickest thing you could possible think of.”

Still, the product received lots of media attention, early on. It soon wore off, and Miller found himself strapped for cash.

Miller invested more, though, and began advertising in dog magazines.

“He did radio interviews around the country and offered free Neuticles to listeners. He built up a network of veterinarians, and business finally boomed,” CNBC reported.

Another problem came when customers started complaining their Neuticles-equipped dogs made a “clacking” sound when they walked.

Miller switched to making them from silicone instead of hard plastic, and that took care of that.

51P56DVC14L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Neuticles now come in 11 different sizes to fit a variety of pets, costing as much as $469 a pair, and Miller has expanded his product line to include eye implants for animals, stays for holding up cropped ears and allergy products for sensitive pet skin.

He’s a millionaire now, living outside Independence, Missouri, in what he likes to call “The House that Neuticles Built.” He likes to drive his new Mercedes down I-70 and look at one of the six billboards across the country advertising Neuticles.

Buck has since died, and Miller now has a bulldog named Humphrey, neutered and equipped with Neuticles.

He showed off his estate for the CNBC (see video here), and dished a little too, noting that his celebrity clients include the Kardashians, who — it should come as no surprise — bought a pair a few years ago for their dog Rocky. They chose the earlier hard plastic version that make noise.

What part of “no” don’t you understand?

You know how frustrated you get when you have to tell your dog something over and over again?

Come here. Come HERE. Listen to me. Get over here right now. Don’t make me say it again. COME HERE!

In this video, the shoe is sort of on the other paw.

John Ventresco, of New Hampshire, is trying to persuade his 11-month-old husky, Blaze, to get into her crate.

Not only does Blaze physically (but peacefully) resist, refusing to budge, but she says what sounds like “no” — 30 times by my count, at least 10 of those quite clearly:

“Noooooo!”

Posted on YouTube just two weeks ago, the video is approaching 5 million views, meaning a lot of people are getting a chuckle, and learning how not to train a dog, and debating whether Ventresco — as gentle and good-humored as his urging is — is going to get bitten one of these days, and, if so, will he have deserved it.

Eventually one of them will have the other properly trained, I’m just not sure if it will be Ventresco or Blaze. Right now, it appears to be a draw.

The bigger question it raises, to me, anyway, is whether the day will come when dogs really do talk. I predict it will — that they will someday talk, on their own, without the aid of implants, headsets, devices that monitor their brain waves and apps that translate what they’re thinking into words.

Several projects are underway that do just that — because we humans want to know what’s going on in their heads, and we want to know now, and somebody somewhere thinks it might make some money.

We’ll take advantage of technology to bring that about and get it on the market as soon as possible, rather than wait a few hundred or thousand more years when, I’d venture, dogs will have evolved to the point that they’re talking on their own anyway.

It’s only natural for that to happen, with them living so closely to us, observing us around the clock,  and watching too much TV. They will continue to pick up our skills — learning to operate a remote control, warming up some chicken nuggets, uttering words, then entire phrases.

Mark my words. By the year 2525 (and that’s just a wild guess), dogs will be saying “yes” and “no,” and more:

Feed me.

I want to go outside for a while.

But wait, there’s more. Details at 11. Ohmigod, they killed Kenny. Live from New York, it’s Saturday night.

Put me in that damn crate again and, I swear,  I’m going to call my attorney.

They may never have as sophisticated a vocabulary as us, may never be as erudite, snotty, self-promoting and adept at making barbed comments as us. But the day will come that they use words.

The question is not whether dogs will someday learn to talk. It’s whether, when they do, we’ll listen.

We already stink at that — in terms of listening to our fellow humans, and in terms of hearing what our dogs are silently saying. We’re so dependent on words we don’t hone our wordless communication skills, even though that mode is often more honest and meaningful.

My fear is that, through continued domicile-sharing with humans, dogs are going to learn to talk, but also — like Blaze, like Ventresco — not to listen.

It all brings to mind some lyrics from a song that has nothing to do with dogs — Don McLean’s “Vincent.” When you think about it, the misunderstood artist and modern day dog have much in common. We wonder what they’re trying to say, fail to see their brilliance, and don’t appreciate them fully until they’re gone.

Instead, often, we taunt, ridicule and shame them.

How much shorter might Van Gogh’s career have been, how many appendages might he have lopped off,  were he around in the Internet age, reading nasty comments from people about his paintings?

How much quicker might the civil rights movement have progressed if people had shut up and listened to Martin Luther King, Jr., the first time?

Are we getting any better at listening, or quicker to turn a deaf ear?

As the song “Vincent” says:

They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
Perhaps they never will…

Let’s give it a listen.

Killing dogs to make our smiles prettier

I’m a big fan of dogs, and not a fan of dentistry at all, so as you might expect I’ve got some problems with dogs being used to test out dental implants, in hopes of making better and safer ones for humans.

Especially considering that dogs are suffering and dying in the process, as The Humane Society of the United States  says is the case at Georgia Regents University.

The HSUS last week released this report, containing undercover footage obtained during its three-month-long investigation at GRU. The experiments lead to two questions in my mind.

First, since the research is supposed to benefit humans, why not use humans for the tests? I’m sure there are  plenty of people who are in need of dental implants and who, unable to afford them, might be willing to volunteer. I myself might take the risk, assuming that the researchers don’t insist on killing me afterwards to get a sample of my jawbone.

And that’s question number two: Why is it necessary to kill a dog after he’s already made an unwilling contribution to science — or at least a contribution to us humans being able to have gap-free permanent false teeth and not having to mess with things like denture adhesives?

As one dentist told the Humane Society, it’s not.

“In the two studies I reviewed, human research subjects could have been used, given that the products were already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and bone biopsies are commonly done in human studies,” said James P. Jensvold, DDS.

“Animals used in research are often ‘sacrificed’ at the end of the study, and this is accepted as standard practice without taking into consideration the unnecessary emotional and physical suffering that the animals must endure,” Jensvold added. “As a dental student and oral and maxillofacial surgery resident, I witnessed laboratory animals being treated as little different than a test tube, which is inconsistent with the values of compassionate healthcare.”

“Dogs don’t need to die for frivolous dental experiments,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “It’s painful to watch these forlorn dogs sacrificed for these questionable purposes…”

If you tend to distrust dentists, and Wayne Pacelle, perhaps you’ll believe actress Kim Basinger, who narrates the HSUS report:

“GRU buys dogs from a Class B dealer who’s under federal investigation,” she notes. “Dogs like Shy Guy, along with others, who may have been famiily pets, were all used for unnecessary dental experiments. Their teeth were pulled out and replaced. It’s very painful, just look into their eyes.”

dentastix(Dogs used in the experiments, after having their teeth removed, are given a canine version of dental implants, not human ones, like you find in those freakish — to me, anyway — ads for Pedigree Dentastix.)

The HSUS investigator witnessed dogs having  their teeth pulled out and replaced with implants. Once the experiments were over, the dogs were euthanized for a small sample of their jaw bone. GRU has been conducting dental implant research on random-source Class B dogs for years.

There are only six random-source Class B Dealers still active in the U.S. They are permitted to gather dogs and cats from various sources, including auctions, “free to good home” ads, online sources, flea markets, and even animal control and some shelter facilities — and resell them to research facilities. There have been cases of stolen pets ending up in research laboratories via ClassB dealers, the HSUS says.

The dealer who sold the dogs to GRU, Kenneth Schroeder, has previously been charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources, according to the HSUS.

Dr. Mark Hamrick, Senior Vice President for Research at Georgia Regents University, issued the school’s response to the HSUS allegations:

“As an institution, we are committed to research that will provide a direct benefit to patient lives by restoring function to damaged and diseased organs and tissues … The Food and Drug Administration, which provides oversight for medical device safety and procedures including dental implants, requires preclinical studies in animals demonstrating that the device or procedure is both safe and effective for its intended use in humans … The research being done with dogs is neither frivolous nor unnecessary, as alleged by the investigation, and is performed in order to develop safe, effective dental procedures for people.”

The HSUS says the studies are being done at the university in part to compare a dental implant invented by researchers at GRU, in conjunction with a private company, with that of a competitor.

According to the HSUS, 65,000 dogs per year are used for research, testing, and education in the U.S.

New from the folks at Neuticles: Ear implants

apronThe man who invented Neuticles — those artificial testicles designed to keep a neutered dog’s manly pride and appearance intact — is back with a new product, this one designed to keep a dog’s ears erect.

Missouri inventor Gregg Miller has created ear implants for use in dogs who have had their ears cropped, only to have them flop again.

Ear cropping — generally frowned upon by the animal welfare community — is a procedure conducted mostly at the behest of breeders and the dog show crowd to get a dog’s ears to stand up straight, as called for in some kennel club breed standards.

Because the cropping process doesn’t always take, or injuries can cause an erect ear to go floppy, Miller felt the need to create a product that, once surgically implanted, would keep a dogs ears straight — something dogs probably could care less about, though their owners sometimes do.

“PermaStay Ear Implants”  are now available on Miller’s website, Neuticles.com, along with the polypropolene testicular implants (available in original, natural and ultra plus) and silicone eye implants for cats, dogs and horses.

“The direction I’m taking now is that I want to create whatever implantable device there is for pets,” Miller told Gatehouse News Service. “Then everybody will know my company is the implant company, the eyes, the ears, the testicles, and God knows whatever else.”

Miller said he began working on the ear implants about five years ago, after requests from customers.

The ear implant is a patch of  thin surgical mesh, with a plastic spine that helps support the ear. The ear implants, like Neuticles, must be installed surgically, so that the dog’s tissue actually grows around the prosthetic.

Miller admitted there was a lot of trial and error in developing the product.

“Everything would go fine at first, five or six weeks,” Miller says. “After that, these hideous infections would develop. The ear would swell up and blood and puss would spurt out. It was horrible.”

But he (sarcasm alert) bravely (end sarcasm) pressed on, and found that by using surgical mesh, further infections were avoided. The device is $400. The surgery cost is from $300 to $600. About 40 dogs have gotten the ear implants. “The dog doesn’t even know it’s there, it’s so humane,” he said.

earings01Miller, a former newspaper editor and reporter, created Neuticles about 15 years ago. The Neuticles website also features a line of merchandise, from barbecue aprons (pictured above) to earrings made out of Neuticles.

Now there’s a gift that says … God only knows.

And one you probably need about as much as your dog needs ear implants and Neuticles.