Looking for something to give Fido for Christmas? Well, if he's been neutered, how about a pair of Neuticles? Yes, the American pet product industry has the perfect gift for the dog that once had everything: prosthetic testicles.
More than 100,000 pairs have been installed since they were launched in 1995. They come in two styles and three different sizes - all marketed under the slogan: "It's like nothing ever changed."
Gregg Miller, an American entrepreneur, invented Neuticles after seeing his own dog's post-operative trauma. "The day after," says Mr Miller, "he went to clean himself, and I'll never forget the look on his face." Thus inspired, he developed the phoney cojones - and the first lucky recipient was a rottweiler called Max.
Despite testimonials which claim that the product has brought an extra wag to the tail of many an emasculated dog ("Frodo doesn't know anything's missing," writes Ms Sausser of California), most observers agree that Neuticles are mainly for the owner's benefit, with men reporting that their machismo has been restored along with the original shape of Rover's hind quarters. Sales in Texas are especially vigorous.
Mercifully, they have yet to catch on in the UK. When we rang a leading British vet, Caroline Bower, at her Devon surgery, she said: "How ridiculous. I haven't heard or read of this happening here and I would expect most vets, like me, would try very hard to dissuade a client who wanted these fitted to an animal." She went on to explain that, in the US, invasive surgery on dogs also extends to cropping ears and "de-barking".
So you can understand why American dogs might look nervous. Over there, if vets don't get you at one end, they'll get you at the other.