Testicle, Sara. Get to the testicle.
But wait! First I need you to know that the photo above is not a testicle. It’s merely a fruit that my mother described as “testicular” in appearance: a fig. I’m comfortable writing a salacious headline, but I draw the line at showing a photo of a testicle.
OK. Onward. To the testis, singular.
Wait, though. Can I just interrupt this story to tell you about one of the more embarrassing moments of my life? I was in high school, and I was trying to ask a teacher—in front of a full classroom—whether he’d be returning our graded tests that day. To put a playful spin on things, I used a diminutive of the word “tests.” Yes: I asked about “our testies.” Out loud. 💀
So, back to Ralph’s testicle. Remember how I told you that I stole two puppies when I was a kid? Ralph and Floyd were their names, and they lived as “outside dogs,” meaning that they were filthy and ill-mannered and not allowed in our living space. They generally ran around, dug into the lawn in pursuit of moles, and hosted ticks of various sizes.
They were little terrier mongrels. Ralph was mostly black; Floyd, the color of a used cigarette filter. They were probably in the ten-to-twelve-pound range and had no trouble escaping our backyard and running loose—it happened all the time. They weren’t the only dogs roaming the neighborhood, either, so it was no great surprise that they sometimes got into fights with other dogs.
Did I mention that this was the 1970s? Things were different then.
Anyway, one day, I noticed that Ralph had sustained a heinous-looking injury in his nether region.
(Interestingly, when I looked up the term “nether region,” Wikipedia informed me that yes, it does mean “Euphemism or slang for the buttocks, groin and genitals of human body, separately or collectively.” But it also means “Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering.” Take from that what you will.)
When I saw Ralph’s bloody boo-boo, I reported it to my parents so they could do whatever grownups did to take care of such things.
And it was not until decades later that I realized that what they did to address this situation was absolutely insane.
I wasn’t present for the any of the conversations between my parents and the veterinarian back then, so I can't tell you who decided what tack to take or what the rationale was.
But I do know the following, because my sister corroborated it.
After Ralph sustained an injury between his hind legs and he was taken to the vet…
...he came home with some black stitches and...
ONE REMAINING TESTICLE.
Yes, a man with a veterinary degree decided to anesthetize my peripatetic, fertile little mutt and remove only ONE of his puppy-propagating sperm sacs. (I detest the word “sac,” but I will employ it here, where it is so perfectly accurate.)
What the actual furry, four-legged fornication?
Did people understand reproduction back then? Did they believe it was a mortal sin to remove a male’s virility? Was superstition involved? Laziness? Alcohol? I so wish I could ask my parents, but alas, they’re no longer available.
If you have any insight into the animal-control practices in Oklahoma City at the end of the Ford administration, please share. Otherwise, you can just let the absurdity of this tale wash over you like I did when it occurred to me a few years back.
Spay and neuter your pets, people. Completely.
OK, I promised the backstory on salacious. It comes from the Latin salax, meaning “lustful,” which comes from salire, “to leap.” As the wonderful Online Etymology Dictionary explains, salacious probably came from this concept: “‘fond of leaping,’ as in a male animal leaping on a female in sexual advances.”