Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Short In the Tooth

Having two kids is tough, and I'm really trying my best to help them learn and develop their little personalities, or really just keep them alive.  But while I've been keeping one eye on the children and the other eye on the house and my other work, someone was neglected.  And I feel just awful about it.

Not only was I neglectful, I was ignorant.  I was too busy picking up toys and writing blogs to put two and two together when I found the teeny, tiny tooth on the carpet.  I was flighty and flaky and thought that all dogs have breath so vile that paint peels and bats screech when they yawn.

By the time the "breath smelled 'round the world" made its way to my nose and up into my brain, it occurred to me that something was wrong with Oscar, our loving yet relentlessly needy dog.  I picked him up and pulled back his jowls to reveal that his teeth were in such poor condition that my teeth hurt from sympathy alone.  I could see that he had lost a couple of teeth already and it was clear that some of those remaining needed to go.

So I called the vet.  I was completely terrified that I would be chewed out for being neglectful with our dog, but the call had to be made nonetheless.

"Hello.  My name is Mary Foreman and I need to make an appointment for my dog, Oscar.  He is having some dental issues."

"Uhhh, okay..."  I wasn't sure why the receptionist on the other end of the phone was so skeptical of me, but I did my best to jump through the proverbial hoops they'd rigged up for me.  "Before we get into that, I'm going to need some other information."

I informed her that Oscar is five years old, an Aries, enjoys long walks in the backyard and munching on used Kleenex.  We established that he was behind on his shots, and I tried to explain that Oscar responded to his last round of shots about as positively as Joel responded to stomach flu.  And then it was time to fess up about my sweet dog and his nasty grill. 

"So can you explain the problem a little for me?  Explain what you mean by 'mental issues'."

"Mental issues?  What mental-- Oh!  DENTAL issues, not mental issues!"

But the dog has mental issues, too.  His favorite place to sleep is on top of the boys' oversized stuffed monkey and will lay nose to nose with the primate while he snores and whimpers through his tiny puppy dreams.  He chases a laser pointer with such energy and enthusiasm that he must be cut off lest he suffer a cardiac event.  Oh, and he eats poop, too.

We scheduled an appointment for the veterinarian to check out Oscar's mouth and determine a course of action.  A few days later, Papa took Oscar to the office while I stayed home with three equally mental little boys that were disturbed by the dog's absence. 

"Where is Oscar?" Cael asked.

"He is at the doctor getting his teeth checked out. 

"Is he sick?"

"I don't know, honey.  But he'll be home soon and he will be just fine." 

"If he doesn't come back, I want to get a sheep."

"I'll keep that in mind."

The vet recommended that Oscar complete a round of antibiotics to clear up what turned out to be a nasty infection caused by severe gum disease, and then return for an entire day for an aggressive cleaning and to have any too-far-gone teeth removed before I find them lodged in the carpet, too.  So after I'd successfully forced 20 pills down his throat, Oscar was returned to the office for his whole-mouth renovation.

He returned to us later that day very sluggish, sore, and short an additional five teeth that were even more of a lost cause than asking Cael to sit still in church.

"Cael, you have to be quiet!" 

"But Mommy, God thinks toots are funny, too!"

You see what I mean.

But we were glad to have Oscar home to love, and even more grateful that his gum disease was discovered before it was too late.  The vet assured me that had I been brushing his teeth religiously, this still would have happened to some degree because the tooth loss wasn't a result of bad hygiene, but mainly from the gum disease.  He also said that most dogs in such a condition are in a lot of pain and begin to lash out at family members, so Oscar's sweet, dossile demeanor is a testament to what a wonderful dog he really is.

Life is back to normal now, save for the excitement of Christmas and a dog that can only chew on one side of his mouth.  Having him back to health is a great Christmas present.

I think all he wants, however, are his two front teeth.


  1. Awww...poor puppy! Yeah, small dogs are prone to that stuff. I am horrible and don't brush my dogs teeth, but they are bigger so it doesn't get as bad. We have paid a couple times to have professional cleanings done at the vet as well. My mom has a tiny dog and she has his teeth professionally cleaned regularly and says it actually doesn't cost that much, but I have no idea what.


  2. Shawna- I'm glad your dogs don't have this problem! We haven't been good about brushing, but I've always had all of the recommended dental bones, treats, etc. and I guess I thought that was enough... wrong! Oscar had to be put out for the cleaning and stay all day, plus 5 extractions, so we payed almost $250. Next to nothing to keep him healthy, but not something we can afford on a regular basis. I guess he'll be third in line at the sink each night!

  3. I loved reading the Metal issues part! too funny. Poor dogs do get bumped down the line when kids are around. Ours is fifth. Poor thing. Glad it all worked out.

  4. Heidi- I couldn't stop laughing when she thought I said he was mental. I mean, he totally is, but that wasn't the particular issue I was looking to solve that day!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.