Fake eyes for pets - useful tools or human vanity?
Last month a Golden Retriever named Lucky received a prosthetic eye. His Boca Raton family was overjoyed with the results. They’d had to make the difficult decision to have his God-given eyeball removed after glaucoma rendered it a liability to his comfort level. But now Lucky “looks normal,” despite his brush with cosmetic eyelessness.
That’s according to his family, who was concerned its children would think Lucky “freaky” were he left with an ominous socket. So they had the ophthalmologist implant a black silicone prosthetic to replace the original globe.
To me, one-eyed pets look perfectly normal, while those with prosthetic eyes seem eerily reminiscent of beady-eyed plush-dolls. But I’m a vet, so I’m perhaps to be excused for my insensitivity to cosmetic incompleteness. After all, I’m accustomed to a plethora of beautiful one-eyed pets—though I’m aware the rest of the world regards them a rather disgusting novelty.
After reading this article in the online Sun Sentinel, I was struck with the unsettled feeling one gets after being invited to a cousin’s third baby shower, then asked to submit $50 for the cost of this luncheon you’d rather die than attend anyway but are forced to out of familial propriety.
Somehow, it seems more vain than useful, less purposeful than just plain wasteful. Dogs don’t know they’ve got no eye. They just perceive they haven’t any vision on that side. They go about their lives in almost exactly the same way, despite the occasional ball-catching accident (in which the projectile bounces off their face) and the increased tendency to bump into stray walls on the afflicted side.
I’m sure this family was just plain unprepared to see the eye go for more than superficial cosmetic reasons. They feared their children would love their dog less or fail to interact with him in the same way. Given that possibility, an extra $300 for a painless implant doubtless seemed a worthwhile investment.
What, however, does this say about our willingness to shelter our children from imperfection? What about teaching children that losing an eye is something that happens because our bodies are not perfect? How about showing them that their dog deserves no less love because of how he looks?
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive because I was raised with a one-eyed dog (who later went completely blind in his remaining eye). Perhaps it’s because Lucky’s case is a wholly cosmetic one.
You may bring up Neuticles at this point since I’ve advocated their use in the past. These silicone-based testicular implants take the place of testicles during the neutering procedure. I like them because I can offer them to people who otherwise refuse to neuter their pets (especially in the case of aggressive dogs or those with testosterone-related health concerns). Do I think it’s silly? Yes. But it’s a tool that helps me get the dog neutered.
I’m thinking maybe that’s not so different from Lucky’s case. Except that [almost always] the eye was going to come out anyway—prosthetic or not.
For the record, the AVMA is opposed to cosmetic surgeries like tail docking and ear cropping, but they specifically state they’re not opposed to this kind. Restoring a dog to cosmetic normalcy gets a pass. And, in general, I agree. But I don’t have to like it—or the sentiments that fuel this tiny market.