Dave Barry

Classic '97: Ever seen a bald dog?


The doctor will see you now.
The doctor will see you now.

This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, May 4, 1997 with the headline "Ever seen a bald dog?"

Our topic today, on Breakthroughs in Medicine, is: New Hope From Dog Spit.

I have here some very exciting scientific correspondence from William B. Yancey, M.D., who is a medical doctor and therefore legally allowed to (1) park anywhere; (2) give shots; (3) tell people to get naked; and (4) make scientific observations.

Dr. Yancey wrote to me about an observation that he scientifically made regarding his Labrador retriever, who is named Refrigerator. Refrigerator recently underwent hip surgery; in preparation for the operation, the veterinarian shaved his hindquarters. Then, realizing his mistake, he also shaved Refrigerator's hindquarters.

No, seriously, the veterinarian's hindquarters have nothing to do with this, and I am instructing the jury to disregard them. The point is that Refrigerator had all the fur removed from his rear end (or, in medical parlance, his ``bazooty'').

If you know anything about dogs, you know how Refrigerator spent his recuperation period: He licked himself pretty much full time. Dogs are very big believers in the healing power of licking. If dogs operated a hospital, here's how it would work: A patient would arrive in the Emergency Room, and a team of doctor dogs would gather around to conduct an examination, which would consist of thoroughly sniffing the patient. (They would also sniff the floor, in case anybody had left food lying around.) Then the doctor dogs would hold a conference, and whatever the patient's symptoms were -- coughing, lack of pulse, a spear passing all the way through the patient's head -- the doctor dogs would agree that the best course of treatment was: licking. And we're talking about a LOT of licking. Not just the patient licking himself or herself; but also the doctors licking the patient, licking themselves, and licking the other doctors. This is state-of-the-art medical care for dogs. Their equivalent of a CAT scan machine would be a big tube filled with tongues.

So anyway, after his operation, Refrigerator was performing medical care on himself, and Dr. Yancey made a scientific observation; namely, that Refrigerator's hair ``has grown fastest in the areas where he has spent significant time licking himself.''

Using this observation, Dr. Yancey was able to form a scientific hypothesis -- a term that is formed from two Greek words, ``hy,'' which means ``something,'' and ``pothesis,'' which means ``that pops into your head while you are watching a dog lick itself after you have maybe had a couple of brewskis.''

Dr. Yancey's hypothesis is this: Dog spit grows hair. In fact, Dr. Yancey believes that unwanted hair, such as facial hair on women and nose hair on men, probably did not exist until the human race domesticated dogs and started getting licked all the time.

But the more important implication is that dog spit could be a revolutionary new hair-growth treatment for balding men. Granted, we do not yet have actual laboratory proof of this. But we do have a published report in the form of this column, which has been printed in a newspaper with professional-looking margins.

So I think it's time to move past the research phase of Dr. Yancey's hypothesis and go directly to the phase where we unleash the power of this amazing discovery to benefit humanity, to make the world a better place, and -- most important -- to make money.

Specifically what I am thinking of is a franchised line of hair-growth salons, perhaps with a sophisticated name such as La Spitte Du Chien Pour Les Hommes. Upon arriving at a salon, a client would undergo a pre-treatment interview, during which he would be asked a series of scientific questions (``Do you have money?'' ``How much?''). The client would then be ushered into the Preparation Area, where his scalp would be coated with a scientifically designed, nutrition-enhanced, precision-balanced formulation consisting of Skippy brand peanut butter.

Finally the client would enter the Treatment Area, where he would be instructed to lie down on the floor with his arms at his sides. A door would then be opened, and a professional Hair Growth Technician, barking loudly, would sprint into the room at upwards of 400 miles per hour, skid to a stop, and begin enthusiastically treating the client's scalp. All of the technicians at La Spitte Du Chien Pour Les Hommes would be carefully selected on the basis of friendliness, professionalism, and not peeing on the clients.

I grant you that this procedure has a few wrinkles that need to be worked out, such as the issue of creamy vs. chunky. But basically I think it makes at least as much scientific sense as the baldness cures you see advertised in magazines. I see no reason why we can't go ahead and start setting up franchise salons, and if any government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration have any questions, well, they can just send their inspectors around to meet with our Board of Directors, Big Boy and Fang. They love inspectors. It's their favorite meal.