We have a dog, and as anyone who has ever owned a dog knows, it’s a lot like owning a car.
Before the animal rights activists start sending nasty e-mails, all I meant is that taking care of a dog can get expensive, in the sense that the warranties tend to expire at much the same time and then you have to start paying out-of-pocket for things like oil changes, bumper dings, tire rotation and anal sac draining. Sorry. I meant wiper fluid refills.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my dog. We got Jade as a puppy, and all puppies are roly-poly, furry balls of fun. But I noticed recently that my veterinarian and my mechanic get the same look on their faces when the warranty is about to expire. The conversation could be totally innocent and happy, and then it’s like the lights dim. The room quiets. Their expressions morph into a feigned frowny-face of concern for my welfare and disappointment that they have to break this bad news to me. And that’s when I know it’s coming. That’s when the interrogation begins.
“Has Jade ever had her teeth professionally cleaned?” asked my vet.
“You mean like at the dentist?” I replied, trying to play dumb. I know where this is going, and I know it’s about to get expensive.
“Yes,” she said, patently refusing to give up on a victim patient so quickly. “Her breath smells kind of funky. It could be a sign of tooth decay.”
“Tooth decay is bad. Plus, her tires need rotating,” offered my mechanic.
“If you don’t brush her teeth at home, you really should let us do it,” said the vet.
“Here’s a bill for $600.00,” my mechanic piped up helpfully.
So my vet cleaned Jade’s teeth and her breath doesn’t smell funky anymore. I wish it had stopped there. She recommended that I buy a special toothpaste made for dogs and take up the hobby of brushing my dog’s teeth in my spare time. It would not surprise me at this point if someone told me that they teach the art of talking about things like “spare time” with a straight face in veterinary school.
I should probably state here and now that I’m not even sure if my kids really brush their teeth or whether they’re just humoring me, but off I went, dutifully, to buy my dog some toothpaste.
The selection surprised me. They have flavors like Vanilla Lavender and Sparkling Fresh Peppermint, but I’ve lived with dogs all my life and I’m pretty sure that when they are thinking of flavor enhancement, they are not thinking of potpourri. I don’t know about your dogs, but if they asked Jade, I think her preferences would be along the lines of Butt, Toilet Water, Crotches of Total Strangers and Roadkill.
Oh, and for those of you keeping track, adult dogs have 42 teeth. That works out to $14.29 per tooth. Not including the rear view mirror air freshener.
(Reprinted with permission from Springfield Patch.com, 2010)