b Papa Dog's Blog: Doggy Dentistry

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Doggy Dentistry

In today’s Doggy Dog drama, our boy was at least not an aggressor. Rather, he was a victim of oral hygiene. We’ve been bad dog parents in that regard, and his teeth were clearly suffering. We finally decided a couple of weeks back that the only thing for it was to have his teeth cleaned and then resolve ever after to take better care of them. Dentistry for dogs is rather an involved process. It can’t be done if they’re conscious, for one thing. What a wraparound weekend for Doggy Dog; cat-killing Friday night, general anaesthesia on an empty stomach Monday morning.

I got off easy because I was insanely busy at work all day and had no time to dwell on it. Mama Dog was the one who had to drop Doggy Dog off at the vet’s and then field update calls through the day. She was on tenterhooks all day long. Midmorning, the vet called to get her to authorise an extraction. One of his bone-gnawing teeth was fractured and had to come out. She gave the okay. I understood the reasons it had to go, but I was still kind of bummed about it. Pulling a dog’s tooth seems kind of like declawing a cat. Mama Dog fretted and worried while I struggled with a big stupid table so complicated that I couldn’t see straight by the end of the day.

I was telling Dan the Chemist about Doggy Dog’s surgery. I mentioned how, awful as it is, we had to do a kind of cost-benefit analysis when considering what to do about Doggy Dog’s teeth. He’s eight years old, and a big dog’s life expectancy runs around 10-12. If we didn’t do anything to the teeth, would he die before they became a real problem? Like I said, it’s terrible to think of it that way, but the procedure’s not cheap and we don’t have pet insurance. Dan grinned. “I do that for myself,” he said. “With all the dietary advances and fluoridation and stuff in the last generation, dentists have to convince you your teeth need to be perfect if they wanna make money. This dentist gave me an estimate for this program he wanted to do, $30,000. I figure I’m already married, so I don’t need my teeth perfect. I just need to be able to eat, and only for about twenty more years.”

Mama Dog said Doggy Dog was still really out of it when she picked him up at the vet’s. He wasn’t able to jump up into the back seat on his first try. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. When I got home, he barked a little hoarsely and was a bit less animated than he usually is. He still seemed a bit groggy. The quiet and subdued greeting, though a little weird, was actually a nice change of pace. He goes a little over the top most days, and my head’s usually not calibrated to tolerate the full-on barking show most nights. I petted him and told him he was good, but I couldn’t help thinking there was some karma in his situation. When he was settled down like a dogskin rug on the kitchen floor, he looked content but worn out. At dinnertime he just lay there on the floor, not even sniffing up at the table laden with pork. You know Doggy Dog’s out of it when he doesn’t stand up for pork. I know he wasn’t looking for one, but I supplied the moral. “You see?” I said. “This is what happens when you kill cats.”


Anonymous Mama Dog Duvalier said...

Yes, I'm sure he understood that causal relationship about as well as "Meet me on the corner next Tuesday at noon." ;-)

8:15 AM  

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