July 2008, continued
Zozo is the most charming pupper-doodle ever. Eh-VER. He’s sweet and goofy and smart. Here he is with a rope toy.
Other than Dragon, who is gingerly moved from one corner of the apartment to another like a security reptile, this rope toy becomes a go-to Mama’s Little Helper. When Zo gets antsy in his crate, we drape the rope in, around and/or through the crate sides and the puzzle is on. When he gets nippy, out comes MLH for a game of tug-of-war.
Know what else comes out? His molar. It klinks to the floor in a moment of absolute silence. We both look at it, he with curiosity (can I eat that?) and I with terror. I broke the puppy. I played too rough, and I’ve destroyed Zo’s dental integrity. There’s no OW in fun. Game over.
Quickly, I run to the kitchen and pull out an ice cube for the pup to nom until I can verify if his mouth is bleeding. However, he’s more interested in herding the cat and rearranging our dining room chairs. Completely unphased, his world continues on. Why these things happen when I’m home alone with the pets is beyond me, but it’s starting to feel very unfair.
Maybe it wasn’t a tooth, I start to explain the situation away. Maybe it’s a pebble from a shoe that just happened to fall out of thin air the very moment you and Zo were playing. I’m muttering. I carefully store the possible pebble-tooth in a ziplock bag, and I try to go about business as usual.
James has taken off work tomorrow. I’m finally heading back in to the office after spending two days at home housebreaking and crate training the dog. I’m rereading the sections I’ve highlighted in “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” in hopes that we can start positive reinforcement obedience training later in the week. I’ve over-thought my fur-motherhood. I’m tired and it’s good that I’m inserting myself back into my pre-Zozo routine.
I call James twice from work the next day, casually asking if Zo seems to be salivating more or indicating soreness in his gums from the empty socket where his molar used to be. Nothing to report. He sends me pictures of Pupperdoo (that’s nickname numero uno, thankyouverymuch) so I’m involved in the going’s on at home. Napping. Pee breaks. General boy stinkyness. I wish I was there.
Finally home from work, I’m on the rug puppy-pouncing with Zozo while James cooks up dinner. Zo bobs and I weave and he clonks his head against my chin. Plink. I freeze and he trots away to the kitchen, looking for a carrot or some cat food. Still splayed on the floor, I stare at the tooth and erupt into tears. Our six month old new dog is losing his teeth, and it’s all my fault.
I pick up the phone and call the vet’s office, but it’s after hours and I’m redirected to the Alexandria Animal Hospital. The tech who answers the phone listens to my guilty confession. She asks for Zozo’s age, his breed and for a general health history. She puts me on hold. I’m gesturing to James that he should find the leash so we can get in the car because the dog is obviously dying, but my charades aren’t particularly specific or good.
Both Zozo and Athena have made their way over to me. He’s licking the salt from my cheeks, and Athena bats the tooth across the floor. I’m up, nudging her out of the way to prevent it from gliding under the couch, and Zo gets excited at the activity. “Oh, we’re running! The cat is being my friend! This is the best night of my life!” He barks for the first time, a tenor that sounds like a tarnished New Years noisemaker.
The tech doesn’t return to the phone, but the doctor on duty does. Turns out he’s the same vet who gave Zo his first series of puppy shots yesterday. “Tell me what’s up with our boy.” I recount the tug of war and the head-bonk. I tell him we have two dog molars in a ziplock bag.
“Wow,” says he vet, and I can’t breathe.
“I’m really sorry, it was an accident,” I plead.
“No, this is really cool. We never see them.”
“Puppy teeth. You know dogs lose their teeth like human children.”
“…. oh… oh yeah, sure. Totally, yes.” I’m lying.
“Usually, they fall out when they’re eating and they end up swallowed. We don’t get to see them. Can you bring them in with you when we see you in a couple of weeks?”
“Sure, yeah. Yes. Totally.” Because rearranging the words makes me feel like less of an ass.
I hang up the phone, and I relay our prognosis to James. Totally normal. Zozo’s just losing his teeth like any other little boy.
I’m getting a beer.