Dental Fears

For some inexplicable reason, I don’t like going to the dentist. This is not a rational thing. It is not a result of some horrific dental experience in my past. Somehow in my deepest irrational imaginings I think that I will go to the dentist and they will have to pull out all of my teeth without an anesthetic and then I will subsequently die of some lingering painful death related to the procedure or something equally as horrible.

I always have the best intentions. I set up an appointment for an exam and teeth cleaning, and yet when the appointment approaches, I will call and cancel with increasingly more creative reasons for the cancellation. I mean, you can only have an important meeting at work come up just so often.  So I call with compelling excuses for why I can’t come. “We have an infestation of carpenter ants, and I have to stay home for the exterminator,” or “a foreign exchange student will be visiting my son’s school from Brazil, and I am the only person in his class who speaks Portuguese.”  While making these excuses, I hope they aren’t being entered into my Permanent Dental Record.

So of course, when Buddy was upset about getting his teeth cleaned, I completely understood. As Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain.”  Now, they have to give a dog a general anesthetic when they do this. I tried to explain this to Buddy, but this is how he hears my speech:


When I brought him home after his appointment he couldn’t walk.  Well he COULD walk, but he only would hold up the paw where they placed the needle for the anesthetic and look pitiful as if to say, “It was horrible, I don’t know what they did to me because I was asleep, but I am sure they performed some kind of torturous experiment.”

Because I feel his pain, I carried him down the hall, outside and placed him on the grass and then carried him back upstairs to our apartment. The next morning, he was still holding up the same paw, so I carried him downstairs again. This time however, when he saw other dogs, he jumped up, played and ran around. When the other dogs left though, his pain reappeared and he had to hold up his paw again, unable to walk.

Now when this continued the NEXT day, I began to be concerned. So I called the vet who said, “Maybe I should have a look at that.” So we went back to the vet, and after she examined his paw, she said, “You know, I think he just wants a big puffy Band-Aid.”  His vet, Joan Burkhart from the North Central Animal Hospital in Chcago wrapped his paw in cotton, gauze and tape; a wise and empathetic vet.

When I took him outside, Band-Aid prominently displayed, he got all kinds of sympathy from people and dogs alike. The next morning he had chewed off the Band-Aid and was perfectly fine.

That’s OK, Buddy. I completely understand.


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