Show me your teeth, part 1

April 2018

NOTE: I’m not posting pictures with this post because they’re gross.  And so is some of the content.  Just kidding, there are two pictures of Zozo but they’re from after surgery so there’s no medical stuff in them.

Our 10 year old man needs a bit of a tune up.  He has a fatty tumor growing on his chest and a skin tag on his eye lid that’s finally starting to bother him.  His breath is terrible.  TERR-I-BLE.  After consulting with our vet at Caring Hands Animal Hospital, we decide to go ahead with the trifecta of cosmetic surgery: boob job, eye lift and teeth whitening.  Well, not exactly a teeth whitening, but a full dental cleaning.  We drop him off for his procedures and go about our business, waiting for the pup-date from the vet.

So here’s the thing: remember when Zozo was puppy and I freaked out because he lost his teeth?  Since then, we’ve been compulsive about his mouth.  We brush his teeth as often as he’ll let us.  He gets greenies.  He plays with flossing toys.  We do our best.

But our best can’t tackle anatomy.  Zozo has tiny teeth and big ol’ gums.  Food can get stuck and fester, and we can’t help him because he doesn’t show signs of discomfort or show symptoms other than stinky breath.  He’s nonchalant about this stuff.

The vet calls.  It’s not great, and the Bad Dog Mom soundtrack starts droning in my head, so I can only pick out incidental words: gingivitis, cavities, extractions.  Periodontal Disease.  Capital P.  Capital D.  With that, I snap back.

Colgate defines it like this:

“Perio” means around, and “dontal” refers to teeth. Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the infection affects the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved.”

It’s a disease of stages that progresses from sore and potentially bleeding gums (gingivitis), to teeth loss or shifting and bacterial infections.  The American Veterinary Dental College says it’s one of the most common ailments in adult dogs and cats that’s totally preventable.  Ugh.

Things got away from us and his teeth revolted and we’re terrible parents.  The vet reassures me: he’s 10.  We made it this far without a formal cleaning.  We did our job.  Nature interfered.


They’ve done a thorough cleaning and several extractions.  10 extractions.  Four upper front teeth, two lower center teeth and four random molars.  It’s more than we ever expected.  We’ll take turns staying home with him, snuggling and cooing and generally everyone feels miserable about the situation.IMG_4808

He’ll start feeling like himself in 10 days.  (10 years.  10 teeth.  10 days).  He’s on wet food until his gums heal.  He’s had a tumor on his chest removed.  His eyelid tag turned out to be a ruptured gland, but there’s no danger for further infection.  No stairs for 48 hours.  No running for 3-5 days.

Fast forward a year.  His style of play has changed, since he can no longer tug and his tennis balls slop out of his mouth instead of securely sticking in his jaw.  He hoovers his dry food like a champ, so we’re spared the smell of canned wet food (praise be).  And he’s got the cutest “buck tooth” smile.


We’ve had lessons in brushing his teeth.  We brush at home 3-5 times per week.  We get regular cleanings when he gets groomed.  We check his mouth more thoroughly (when he lets us).  When his breath is bad, I panic.

But this is ten.  I guess.


Epilogue: the tooth fairy did come.  She brought peanut butter ice cream and sleeps on bed with dad and a new plushy toy to destroy.

Giving Thanks, Year 5

Well folks, we’ve had a long year here at PB&C.  We fell off our posting but picked up an instagram (@zozobeanfinley), but it’s just not the same.  We can do better.

Of all our posts over our years blogging, our Thanksgiving posts are our favorite (1,2,3,4)  It feels good to give back, especially after you’ve given so much love, enthusiasm and encouragement to us.  We weren’t going to drop the ball on this.  And Mother Nature really demanded it.

Beginning November 8th, three California wildfires caused massive destruction, injury and heartbreak; the most destructive season on record in California.  Over 10,000 pets have been displaced by the fire, and the impact to other animals and wildlife is as yet untold (but devastating).

This year, we’re making three donations.  All three organizations are taking in displaced, evacuated animals.  They’re working to reunite families who were separated from their pets.  They’re providing emergency veterinary care to wildlife.  They’re making room where room is not available, working around the clock.  Will my contribution make a big impact?  Absolutely not, but we’re definitely in “every little bit helps” territory.

Humane Society of Ventura County

Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation

Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA

Here’s what I know: there are plenty of local rescues and shelters in and around Malibu that could use your help.  I picked these three because their resources cast the widest net in terms of services provided.  I speak with no authority that these are the right choices for everyone, but they’re the right ones for us.  If you consider donating, I know you’ll pick a deserving individual (so many gofundmes right now), organization or foundation that’s best for you.

I hope that you and yours are having a warm and wonderful holiday season.  Take care of each other, and give thanks for what you’ve got.  We’re certainly thankful for you.


Team PB&C

Six toes

May 2017

Things have been hectic here in DC, and I needed a bit of a break.  So, I booked a flight, said goodbye to the boys, and headed to Key West, FL for my first-ever solo vacation.  I packed way too much into my long weekend, but I did what I wanted when I wanted.  I stalked all of the famous authors homes.  I ate frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate.  I collected to-go cups frothy with adult beverages.  It was pretty glorious.

One of the reasons I picked Key West– other than the sun, people watching, and pirate history– is Ernest Hemingway.  Even more specifically, his cats.  He loved cats, and often professed that they were the most emotionally honest creatures living; Hemingway himself was not a particularly emotionally honest human.  He thought they brought luck.

Hemingway was given a white polydactyl cat by a ship’s captain passing between Cuba and Key West sometime in 1936.  This cat, Snow White, became the first six-toed cat on Hemingway’s property.


Hemingway’s sons with Snow White (a picture of a picture.  how meow-ta)

Polydactyl cats carry an extra gene that manifests as extra toes on both the front and/or back paws.  53 cats currently live on the Hemingway property, and they all possess the polydactyl gene although only (!) 17 of the cats have the extra toes.  So many mitten-feets!

The gates to the property are wide open during the da, and there are trees that stretch over the gates and walls that surround the house, but the cats stay where they are.  They’re born there.  They live there. They are buried there.


They receive food, treats, medical care and tons of love from visitors. Each cat is named after a ’30s or ’40s celebrity.  And really, they’re as attention-seeking as some of their namesakes:

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The cats are not up for adoption, although about 10 years ago a couple made off with F. Scott Fitzgerald, poor tom-cat.  Now the guides says they take a peek inside the handbags of crazy cat ladies who come through.  I get it.

I’m particularly fixated on polydactyls because of Athena, she of six toes, walking like a runway model because her thumbs get in the way.  I feel like I met her long-lost relatives.  Maybe she’s a descendent of the purloined F. Scott.  SHe’s certainly as surly as I suspect he was in feline-form.

Hmmm…. this bookish girl can hope.