By Bill Stork, DVM
Historians have hypothesized for decades as to the disposition of Adolph Hitler’s right testicle. A Polish priest and amateur historian named Franciszek Pawlar corroborated the story of an army medic who reported it lost to a rogue piece of shrapnel in the battle of Somme during the First World War. More recent accounts suggest the elusive organ never descended from the German dictator’s abdomen.
Whether it was an anatomic insufficiency or his mother paying more attention to brothers Johann that drove him to commit such atrocities is historic, pure speculation, and not relevant to this essay.
There is firsthand and very recent evidence to suggest the presence of a third testicle will render a certain nine-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Peyton Schroeder gregarious, and charming beyond words.
At his second puppy visit on June 5, 2007, I wrote: “Peyton doing quite well. He did well not jumping up and fell asleep on the exam table.”
In our observation, that was the last time he actually stopped moving.
In accordance with HIPAA laws, and out of respect for the Schroeders, we’ll just say that Peyton’s medical history weighs as much as the title for Johnny Cash’s Cadillac. Thankfully there’s never anything catastrophic.
In 2009, he endured an episode of pruritis ani. Like a high-school kid experimenting with marijuana, he once took up coprophagy, much to Jackie’s disgust. There is at least one obligatory episode of scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, and limping in Peyton’s nine year odyssey.
Every dog has at least one medical claim to fame. Peyton has two: growing toenails and lumps.
If German Shorthaired Pointer nail trimmings are ever found to have qualities that promote liver health or act as aphrodisiacs, Jackie and Steve will be in the Gates and Buffett Club overnight. His chart includes at least 52 appointments for nail trims, many of which have caused our technicians and behaviorist to exercise their all of their athleticism, flexibility, and creativity. Techniques to distract the boy have included busy bowls, touch training, and being cradled on Steve’s lap: an endeavor that must make his annual century bike ride across central Texas in August seem like a trip to Timber Creek for ice cream.
Our staff at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic have flirted with the notion of paperless records for at least 15 years. We remain old-school. On the front of the paper chart is a lump map. At the risk of sounding morbid, the lump map looks like a chalk outline at a police scene. When we discover a dermal mass that concerns us or the clients, it is drawn on the sketch with a line attached to a dialogue box detailing the date, dimensions, and results of in-house cytology.
Peyton’s lump map looks like flight plans out of O’Hare on Christmas Eve. Thankfully they have all been cosmetic, benign, and not in the least bit threatening. Each entry was labeled “lipoma,” “skin tag,” or “wart.”
Then, things got serious on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Peyton was due for a Leptospirosis vaccine and his heartworm and tick-borne disease blood test. Jackie wanted me to check a new mass that had developed rather quickly. I lay on the floor like an auto mechanic checking for leaks on Peyton’s differential. She was not exaggerating. High on the medial aspect of his back leg was a firm but fluctuant ovoid mass that measured two and a half centimeters, like half a deviled egg from the company picnic. Experience has taught me to telegraph concern, regardless how convinced I may be that the dog is in no danger.
The Schroeders knew the drill. The technicians were all handling telephone calls, prescriptions, and setting an IV catheter. I extracted a sample from the mass and excused myself to stain and analyze it.
I was back in minutes. “Another lipoma, Dr. Stork?” she asked.
The crease in my brow absolved her levity in a heartbeat.
“Actually, Jackie,” I deadpanned, “it’s a third testicle.”
“But Dr. Stork, Peyton was neutered nine years ago, when he was a puppy,” she pleaded.
I launched into an explanation, “You see, Jackie, there is a term for horses called high flanker…”
I explained how there can be testosterone-producing cells high on the spermatic chord. When left behind, geldings can act like stallions. I explained that in rare cases theriogenologists have found testosterone-producing cells in atypical locations, often near the left kidney.
Rocking back on her heels, Jackie asked, “Well, how can that result in a whole new testicle?”
“An obvious and perfect question,” I assured her. I was in the middle of explaining how an incident of impact, as simple as a blow from a ball or another dog, could create a focus of inflammation. “When that happens, the body recruits cells from all over…”
I had nearly convinced myself, when Kelly walked in.
“Was the lipoma on the microscope from Peyton?” she asked.