What a Pain…in the Mouth.

22 01 2008

It was a few days ago when i first noticed Jet was acting less like himself. He was smacking his lips, and licking a lot more than usual. I even thought i heard a few grinding noises coming from his crate..although i pushed the sound from my mind, as he was chewing a knuckle bone, after all. But then just the night before, Jet was playing ball, and as I usually do with him at these times, we started to roughhouse, and started playing tug with the ball. I was surprised when Jet’s hard grip on the ball loosened and he let go suddenly. It was over in a second, and he lept up to grab the ball back. But it had felt odd to me…and when i gave the ball back to him, he rolled it around in his jaws, as if trying to find the right place for it. It was then that i noticed there was blood on the ball…and not from biting his tounge.

So i inspected his pearly whites. Now…i am a very squeamish person around a dentist’s office, and I can’t stand the sight of teeth and blood…and especially teeth being worked on. When i was little, i had low enamel on my teeth, and had to get 7 silver caps in one 2.5 hour procedure. For a 6 year old, this is torture. I So, one can understand why i felt the way i did when i looked at Jet’s fangs.

There was a chunk gone from Jetty’s back molar, but that wasn’t the scariest thing. The tooth itself was broken, with a solid diagonal crack running right though the center of the large tooth, splitting it into two. Worst of all, the tooth was exposed so that i could see the root, and living tissue inside of the fang. It must be very painful. I touched it lightly, to see if it was still hanging together, and it made a sickening sound, moved slightly, and began to bleed though the crack. Crap. It was just then that i noticed that side of Jet’s muzzle was puffy and swollen. It had probably been this way for a few days.

The back premolar, the one used for intense chewing and grinding, is very important to a dog. More so, to Jet, who is a performance dog that relies on his teeth for catching, gripping, and tugging, to say the least. So i started making calls to my vet. And found out they were closed, and not only that, they were closed for 5 days! Because I felt Jet shouldn’t be in pain that long, i started researching where i could go for emergency services.

premolarpremolar tooth (carnassial tooth, and the tooth Jet needed removed)

The cost was to be painful. It was about 100 dollars for the E-Vets to just LOOK at him, and say “yeah, he needs surgery”. OK, so this wasn’t going to work. So i called our good vet, Dr. Mills, on her cell number. Being the kind of person who did not like to leave a message…i didn’t when i got no answer. I tried again later in the day…and then even later. I checked up on Jet during time at work, on my lunch break, to find that the tooth was no better, but no worse. Still, i felt very foggy about leaving him like this and not keep trying to find him help. So i called Dr. Mills again..and this time left a message. Needless to say, she called me back in t-minus 10 seconds.

Brenda Mills advised me to not take Jet to the E-Vets. (Since i was on my way to get him to go do just that, it was very good thing that i decided to leave a message!) Dr. Mills explained that E-vets are trained to do just that-take emergencies. They could do hit by cars, snake bites, gun shot wounds, internal bleeding…good stuff like that. But in actuality, they couldn’t not do dentistry as well. She told me she would never take her guys to the E-Vets for a tooth extraction…so i felt safer not doing so. What should i do then? Give The Jet an extra dose of Deramaxx, then get him in on Wednesday, the first day they were open. They were going to be very busy, but i could drop him off and they would take care of him when they could get around appointments. Because they figured surgery was emminant, no food or water after midnight the night before.

Wednesday came along, and I dropped off Jet and headed to work. I was to be called after they took a look and diagnosed him. I also signed a waiver, saying they shouldn’t wait for my ok to administer every type of care to him in case Jet broke down while under the knife. I shuddered…should i be receiving this talk? The dog broke his tooth, not his spinal cord! But, i signed of course. I received the call a few hours later. Jet’s tooth had a very DRAMATIC fracture, in which Dr. Mills told me was one of the worst she had seen. They were all wondering how he had done it. The only explanation i could come up with was Jet’s rock-diving. If a scuba dive was made on the wrong rock, and Jet re-gripped the rock while bringing it up, or crunched on it underwater, it would explain the fracture. And, I had thought, it would make sence, since we had gone on a night walk a few night before i noticed the tooth.

Dr. Mills confirmed it: the tooth would need to be extracted. There was no saving it. It was literally in two jagged pieces. And so they prepped him. But i had a few questions. That tooth was valuable to Jet. Especially for Flyball. Would there be any problems in the future, for him to chew, tug, or anything else he does now? Dr. Mills stated No, Jet should be fine, that dogs adjust well to these types of things, and that I need just give him 2 weeks off Flyball Practice to make sure he healed.

So i informed the Team. As the team had just taken off 3 weeks practice, both for the December holidays and an Agility trial some team members were attending, this would add another 2 weeks off for Jet. The team shared their get well soons for Jet, some giving me info on pet insurance, (deeply considering), the hopes that Jet wouldn’t drive me too crazy in his long off season, and wonders of how he achieved this new step in the goal to make me broke, and that was that. Looooong vacation planned.

Hours later the vet called. Jet was awake and ready to go home. He was groggy, but more alert than most, and should be getting lots of pain meds coming home with him. On lunch, i drove over to pick him up. After a long wait, and a nice chat with other waiters in the lobby, a tech brought Jet out from the back. The dog didn’t even look at me, and made his way right over to see another dog-quite uncharacteristic of him-and then took his sweat time ignoring me as i recieved information on the surgery and post surgery instructions. It was only after I fished out the debit-card and paid the vet 500.00 smackers did Jet finally look up at me and low-and-behold, notice i was there. Then, with a well satated Border Collie pulling me out to the car, I headed back to work.

I as pleased how this visit went. The last surgery Jet had was to have him fixed. I dropped him off, the surgery was performed, and I later recieved the call to collect him. “Jet is ready to go. He’s a little out of it, but thats to be expected.” The Tech told me, and then she made the slightest giggle. When i imagined a drunkly-satated Jet waving around the vet’s office, and asked what was funny, she proclaimed “Well…he sort of disapeared for awhile there.” And images of my dog suddenly DYING on the operating table during a routine neuter wracked my brain. “No no…I mean he really disappeared. We placed him on the ground after the surgery, so he could wake up. We put him on some blankets and left for about 2 minutes and when we got back…he was gone! We looked everywhere. Its not like he could have gone far, after surgery and still being out of it, but when we found him he was in the lobby, greeting patients!” I began to laugh. Of course, a simple neuter wasn’t simple enough for Jet…he had to make it interesting. The funny thing was…in order to get to the lobby Jet had to exit the operating room, maneuver himself around the tech’s work area, literally buzzing with people and activity, and, down a hallway, through the patient waiting rooms, and through a swinging door to the main lobby. It makes me wonder about how sharp this dog’s mind is…even after under anesthesia. Either that, or we’ve been to the vet WAY too many times, and he just knows his way around now.

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