My dog's facelift

By Andrea Karim on 20 June 2007 (Updated 24 June 2010) 13 comments

I just spent $1200 on a facelift for my dog.

Before you go telling me that I should be put down, let me explain that it wasn't elective surgery. My dog is a Pekingese, and say what you will, I don't think that there's much you can do to make a Pekingese look "good". I mean, I love their ugly little mugs the way they are.

But my dog kept getting these infections above his nose. His nose was pretty much indented into his face, so a profile was a complete inverse of what you'd expect from a profile - his nose being the innermost point on his face.

Pekes tend to be a tad on the snotty side. Not so much in temperament (they're not often smart enough to be downright snooty) but in terms of mucus production. My dog, Yong Yong, is no exception. Anytime he breathes, he moves moisture all over the place. He sneezes when he is happy, sad, excited, disgusted, or really really put out. The result is that his wet little doggie nose keeps his face moist at all time - a great recipe for infection.

After the sixth visit to the vet for an emergency supply of antibiotics, anti-bacterial wipes, anti-fungal creams, and some sort of doggie steroid to reduce inflammation, the vet put her foot down and said that I HAD to get Yong Yong's facial fold removed.

I had heard of Pekingese getting facial surgery before, the most famous example being Danny, the prize-winning Peke whose surgery caused something akin to a scandal among dog show freaks everywhere. Danny's face surgery was akin to my dog's - something to help him breathe a little better.

These days, surgery is quite advanced. Think that lasers are just for people? Think again. I've got a $300 laser fee to prove it. In fact, the actual procedure of removing the fold of skin above Yong Yong's nose was only $300 - the other $900 comes from "fees" - lab tech fee, O.R. fee, laser use fee. A fee for having anesthesia. That kind of thing. My dog's surgeon had told me that a non-specialist could perform the surgery for less, but I kind of figured that since it was my dog's FACE, I would go with the expert.

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I know it's a sign of terrible yuppiehood that I am not the kind to make my dog into a rug or something. But you don't know this dog. He's hilarious. Obedient, no. Smart, definitely not. Loyal? Far from it. Yong Yong consistently tries to leave with any pretty girl that walks by my house (and has done so since he was a puppy). But he's sweet, in a simple way, and loves kids. When he runs, he looks like he's trying to fly, with his tail down for the sake of aerodynamics and his front legs flapping wildly out to the sides. He tries to beat up on his brother and gets his tail handed to him.

I find it hard to imagine life without Yong Yong. And I felt guilty watching him paw at his face, trying to scratch each painful infection.

Of course, now that I have him back from the vet, I feel even worse. He's hopped up on pain meds, but whenever he's awake, he gazes at me with the saddest, "How could you do this to me?" expression. The lampshade over his head (to keep him from scratching his stitches) keeps making him run into things, which means that I have to try to keep from laughing out loud at him. His face is swollen and bloody, shaved bare and marred by small stitches. His eyes are watery and accusing. He already sort of looked like ET's furry cousin - now with the satellite dish around his neck, the transformation is complete.

But I know that, in time, this will have been a worthwhile investment in his health. If we can get through a few good years in which we're not having to clean his face on an hourly basis, I will be satisfied with this experience. I'm sure Yong Yong will never forgive me, but he's hoping he learns to forget.

By the way, if any youngsters are reading this and wondering what a good profession might be, I'd like to recommend veterinary surgery.

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Guest's picture
Tina P

Andrea, I feel your pain! I had to take my cat to the emergency clinic this past Thursday when her rear end exploded, and by the time I picked her up the next morning I was $725 lighter. GAH!

They had to perform surgery to remove some tissue and then stapled her back up: it looks like someone cut her tail off and stapled it back on a la 'pin the tail on the donkey'. Now we call her Franken-Heiney....

While it's more money than I would have liked, I consider it an investment. My pets comfort me, provide entertainment, and even offer a certain amount of pest prevention. In the long run, I get something wonderful to snuggle that will happily do anything it can for me. Even if the only thing it can do is make me laugh until I snort.

Will Chen's picture

I hope he eventuallys understand you are doing this all for his own good.  A wonderful story Andrea.  =)

Guest's picture
RU Kidding

Thanks for reminding me to stop reading your site. You might as well be a cat owner.

Andrea Karim's picture

Good riddance to bad readers, that's what I always say.

Tina: Yikes! At least Franken-Heiney is a cute name. I can't think of anything to call Yong Yong, so I just keep telling him how handsome he is.

Will: I'm pretty sure that Yongy is convinced that everything I do is to harm him. Hopefully he'll get to the point where he simply won't remember these days at all. It's kind of embarrassing walking around with him, partly because he looks so dumb with the lampshade, and partly because people keep stopping me and saying, "Oh! Did he get hit by a car?"

Guest's picture
Michael J

What a travesty of miscontrolled inbreeding. I understand that you've had him for a long time now and have obviously become attached. But why even bother with such a ridiculous little thing in the first place? Especially when there are so many other "better" breeds.. If not better, at least less pathetic.

People should have a little mercy and let these tragic experiments of moronic Dr. Moreaus go the way of the Dodo..

Andrea Karim's picture

The old 'why didn't you just get a deserving mutt from the pound?' argument. It's a valid one. I got this dog because some crazy old man in Urumqi was holding him by his head in the middle of the street. My heart broke. I was suckered.

Jessica Okon's picture

I hope he's feeling better!

Guest's picture
Guest

Poor little Yong Yong. I have an disloyal and disobedient maltipoo that might need new knees one day...I get it.

Guest's picture
Cristi

Poor Yong Yong! My heart goes out to him and you. I know what you were dealing with because my little peke, Emma, suffers from chronic nose wrinkle infections despite scrupulous twice daily cleanings. Our vet has mentioned this surgery as a future possibility, but stated it doesn't always work.

How is Yong Yong doing now?

Andrea Karim's picture

Actually,  I should have followed up on this - it totally worked! He is doing much better now. We've only had one infection since the face lift, as opposed to one or two a month before. So it's been a worthwhile investment.

Guest's picture
laura

I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM WITH MY PEAK KRISSY,I HAVE 2 PEAKS B BKRISSY AND MISSY MISSY DOES NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM THANK THE LORD........BUT KRISSY DOES AND I FEEL SORRY FOR HER WHEN SHE GETS THE INFECTIONS I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING, BUT I WOULD NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRWANTRR HAVE THAT DONE TO HER I BELIEVE ITS MEAN.IF YOU HAD THAT PROBLEM WOULD YOU WANT SOMEONE TO PUT YOU THROUGH THAT....... YOU JUST DIDNT WANT TO DEAL WITH IT DAY IN AND DAY OUT SO THATS WHY YOU HAD IT DONE NOT FOR HIM FOR YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Andrea Karim's picture

Your thoughtful and well-written comment really got me thinking - obviously I did the surgery for me. You know what else I do for me? I take my dogs for several walks a day, so that I don't live in a house covered in dog urine and feces. Also? I feed them, so that I don't have to watch them starve to death before my own eyes. I know - I'm SO selfish. That's why I spent that money on his surgery rather than on something like a new motorcycle or a bunch of shoes.

Guest's picture
bleep

Wondering if I should take my Peke in for the surgery. Boo also has a deep nose wrinkle, although in the past 1.5 years since I've adopted him, there's been no infection thankfully. So the reason I'm considering the surgery is actually to decrease the watering of his eyes from the hair on his wrinkle poking into them. The dampness from the tears also makes for an unpleasant smell around his face. Any post-surgery side-effects I should be aware in making my decision?
PS: I tried to google this, and very few hits came up. Glad I found your blog.