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Cricket’s Lost Teeth

 

Recently, out of nowhere, one of Cricket’s front teeth started to stick out. When she was really tired one night, she let me touch the tooth, and it moved. She is eight years old, middle aged for a dog, so losing teeth now is a permanent thing.

"Who needs all those teeth?"

“Who needs all those teeth?”

I worry that this happened because of all of the weeding I let her do earlier in the summer, grabbing and tearing and chewing tough roots out of the ground. She’s not a working dog; she just liked the challenge, and the flavor, of the weeds.

The happy chewer.

The happy chewer.

After the first tooth disappeared, the second tooth, right next to it, pressed forward and stuck out – kind of like her teeth were giving me the middle finger (which is very much in character for little miss Cricket).

The second tooth stayed like that for a few days and then it disappeared too. I have no idea where Cricket’s lost teeth went. Most likely she swallowed them and pooped them out. I have not been searching through her poop for evidence, though. The problem is that there are no teeth to put under her pillow for the tooth fairy, and she sleeps in so many different places, and without a pillow, so I’m not sure how the tooth fairy would know where to put her treasure anyway.

Sleeping on the people couch.

Sleeping on the people couch…

and in front of the dog bed...

and in front of the dog bed…

and in her apartment.

and in her apartment.

I should take Cricket to the vet, but I’m reluctant to put her through the trauma – she loses at least half a pound just from shaking herself silly in the waiting room. And Cricket doesn’t seem to be suffering. She has all of her strength and spring and energy. She certainly hasn’t lost her voice. She sleeps and eats and poops and pees, just like always. And those two little teeth were always crowded and crossed over each other. But, what if she loses more teeth and has to struggle to chew her chicken treats? Chicken treats and Grandma are what Cricket wakes up for in the morning.

I think what’s upsetting me about the lost teeth, though, is that at eight years old, Cricket isn’t really a puppy anymore. She is getting older. I think about mortality too much; my own, a little bit, but more the mortality of the people and dogs that I love, so this sign of frailty in Cricket hits a nerve.

Cricket’s expected life span is eighteen to twenty years, but eventually she will be an old lady, and she’ll be the curmudgeonly type, rather than the sweet old lady in the rocking chair. She won’t be able to jump up as easily, and if she wants to get on the couch or the bed she’ll have to let me pick her up, or learn how to use the doggy steps, and she won’t like that. She will, of course, continue her crazy barking to the end, just at a lower pitch, like a smoker’s cough.

I knew an elderly Cocker Spaniel who rode around in a dog carriage and barked his commentary at the neighborhood as he passed by – a deep, flemmy, insistent bark from his royal transport. Cricket would love to do that.

Cricket would love this! (not my picture)

Cricket would love this! (not my picture)

Eventually, Mom and Cricket are going to be old ladies together. They’ll both have to wear slipper socks and housedresses, and they’ll complain about heartburn and digestive issues. I’ve had previews of this when Mom gets a cold and Cricket curls up with her on her bed and acts sick too. They need tea and toast and special treats brought to them, and they grumble and mumble and whine to each other between naps.

Cozy time for Cricket and Grandma.

Cozy time for Cricket and Grandma.

So, I’m kinda hoping Cricket, and Mom, can hold off on the aging thing for a while longer. Maybe another thirty years?

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

83 responses »

  1. I used to wish my loved ones could just wait for me but they don’t. I had a basket for my bicycle that I would put Murphy in but he always jumped out, which was a lot more dangerous! Maybe Cricket chewed the tough roots to alleviate tooth problems, and she did.

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  2. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a pooch being humanized like Cricket has been here.
    It is absolutely delightful and reminds me of some of the four-legged friends I’ve had along the way.
    Earlier this month I turned sixty-three, which our grandson thought was quite an accomplishment. He’s nine. I explained to him (I don’t know where the connection came from) that nine is sixty-three in dog years.
    I pretty much equated myself to a dog.
    I’ve been called a son-of-a-bitch more than my share of times in life, but never like that.

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  3. This was so funny! I love Cricket’s apartment–it looks very cozy. What totally cracked me up, though, was Cricket acting sick when your mom gets sick. Oh, Cricket–you are just adorable.

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  4. Marcel & Marceau are nine years old and each have each had at least ten teeth pulled by the vet and believe me they are eating fine. As long as Cricket has molars with which to chew, she’ll be fine.

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    • I hope she never has to get a tooth pulled. I don’t think she’d ever let me forget that. I’d have an angry dog staring at me all night long, every night. Maybe I should encourage her to do more weeding so she pulls all of her own teeth and can’t blame me?!

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  5. Gee..I am so glad you discovered at someones blog yesterday…

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  6. Today my 11 year old boxer started to display serious signs of arthritis: damp and coldish weather outside exacerbated the symptoms I have been keeping at bay with glucosamine. Boxers only live to about 10 so I know he is on borrowed time and I absolutely relate to your mortality thoughts. As I type, my aging mother is puttering around in the kitchen and I also wonder how long she will keep on being so energetic….morbid thoughts for a Saturday night…

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  7. I wouldn’t worry too much about Cricket’s teeth unless the area seems to be bothering her. My oldest dog, Akane, has had something like 14 or 15 teeth removed over the years, and she just turned 15. You can always talk to your vet about it when it’s time for a routine visit instead of making it a special trip.

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  8. I felt so sad when my beloved Huck Finn started losing his teeth. Cavaliers have a rather short life expectancy, but he was worth every minute even when he lost his teeth. I really enjoyed this post!

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  9. Got our paws and fingers crossed that they can hold off on the aging thing.

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  10. The only time my dogs have lost teeth is because the vet pulled them. Twice because of broken teeth from aggressively chewing on bones (they don’t get bones any more!), and once from poor dental hygiene prior to his adopting us. We now use an enzyme gel that is keeping the plaque at bay.

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  11. I am sad to hear about Cricket. I hope she wlll keep you company for a long time more.

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  12. I bet Mom gets a concerned look when you say., “We need to go to the vet.”

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  13. Although we have always been pet-free, mortality has been the pink elephant in the room for the past few years now. Sometimes my wife and I whisper about it late at night or when it’s just the two of us in the car whizzing down the freeway. My mother-in-law, who already lives with us, is not in good health and plans to retire this coming summer. My own parents are in their eighties and we know it is just a matter of time before one or both of them are with us as well. I have to keep reminding myself to enjoy the passage of time and to get something valuable out of each day that we have with loved ones.

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    • At Friday night services they announced a new committee on aging at our synagogue, and said everyone should come, especially those who expect to get old some day. I like the idea that we would do this aging thing together as a community, getting advice and help along the way. So many of my friends there are in their eighties and I need help figuring out how to be of help to them.

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  14. The Man has no teeth. He is a rescue dog that had a pretty hard time, but having said that, he eats well enough and I do cut up his food small and hand feed him his treats in the morning. He has a dislike of the Vet. and fine in the car until we get to the Vet then he sets up such a whine you would think I was trying to murder him. I’ve had to take out of the vet and sit in the car until the receptionist comes and gets me, He’s a worry..

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    • Cricket tries to hide under my legs and talk to the bird in the waiting room to get an idea of what’s coming from the vet. Butterfly is sending all of her good vibes to the Man and hoping he’s enjoying his dog stroller.

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  15. My niece once collected their puppy’s teeth and put them under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. She woke up to find a coupe of dog biscuits in their place instead of the expected £1 a tooth.
    Maggie had to have a tooth out last year. It was loose anyway so the vet didn’t charge us for it when he did her descale and polish.
    She’ll be 10 in January, so tooth loss is on the cards for her too.
    We so worry about our pets, but then it’s because they are family.

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  16. I know what you mean. My Ruby, a springer spaniel, is ten next month, and her old age is getting close. She’s still mad and a bit stupid and barks a lot, but she’s slowing down and has become more compliant. How will we cope when she dies? Friends of ours have just lost their dog, Max, and they are bereft. Don’t worry about the teeth if she’s not in pain, unless she loses more. And strengthen her gums with real bones.

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    • Cricket hasn’t shown signs of slowing down yet. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to look like. My black lab mix, Dina, was still in puppy/crazy mode until she was fourteen years old, and I’m sure Cricket wants to beat that.

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  17. Little One has got all his adult teeth now, no idea what happened to his babies. Just noticed when they’d gone. One vet, years ago, told us our dog had a dodgy tooth. When we went to pick him up they’d ripped them all out, so if Cricket is managing nicely on her own, I say leave her be.

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    • Oh my goodness! They stole his teeth without asking you?! This would be Cricket’s worst nightmare. She already thinks her body parts are at risk when she goes to the vet; without her teeth, how will she be able to protect herself?

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      • They claimed they had tried to ring us, but we had caller tracking oh home ‘phone and no mobile calls.

        I went ballistic. My partner dropped him off, a construction worker in an old vehicle. I turned up in a sharp suit, a new Audi, and gave them hell. Mainly in the reception area 🙂

        Seriously, if Cricket is well, don’t fret. Two of my wisdom teeth dropped out. Last to come, first to go. They were loose. Why go and give you and Cricket unnecessary grief? My current vet in Spain was superb when Pippa had tick disease, but I’m not convinced about the ethics of some vets. Anyway, I refused to pay.

        Oh and we had to put Ben on a soft food diet after that. This is a lot of years ago and I can still get livid. OK I’ll calm down. My dogs send Cricket big hugs.

  18. Poor Cricket. Hopefully she’ll manage to keep the rest of her teeth in her head.

    Doggie health is a big issue for me as it obviously is for you. I’ve recently been hearing a lot about the health benefits of turmeric. There is a turmeric user group on Facebook that has some fantastic ideas and lots of information. Might be worth a look. I started Douggie the doggie on it last week and he loves it.

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    • Is the turmeric for arthritis, or overall aging issues? I’m sure I could get Cricket to eat it if I sprinkles the turmeric on chicken!

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      • It seems to be good for arthritis and overall good health. You can’t give it on an empty stomach, they recommend mixing it with cold pressed coconut oil and a little black pepper which activates it. It’s really quite tasty, douggie the doggie loves it. I’ve also made dog treats with it. I used some leftover beef mince but I’m certain it would work just as well if not better with chicken. He was mugging me for them at training on Thursday. It might be worth investigating a bit further. https://www.facebook.com/groups/415313751866609/?fref=ts

  19. oh no.. poor baby

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  20. That would be great and I’m sure your mom and Cricket try to do their best for another thirty years :o)

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  21. Thanks for straying on to my blog, Rachel. I’m sure there’s a way to go for you all yet. Helen

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  22. I’m 12 and old for a Scottie-we don’t go much beyond that. I haven’t lost any teeth and the vet was surprised at my x-ray. I have 3 roots anchoring them in as opposed to the normal two. Now you’ll know I’m an old lady when I start barking about my ailments: Addison’s Disease, pancreatitis, melanoma ……

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  23. Cricket is lucky to have such a good mama! She’s just living her life to the fullest, and sometimes that means we lose a few teeth along the way 🙂 I really enjoy your writing!

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  24. Poor cricket! Do you give her dental sticks to keep her teeth and gums healthy? My two love them and consider them treats. Hugs to cricket from us.
    ps… you and your mom look so alike!

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    • Cricket tried the Greenies dental sticks, and she buried them all over the place but never chewed them. Hopefully the crunchy kibble and her regular chews are doing something for her. She loves doggy toothpaste, but not when it’s attached to a doggy toothbrush.

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  25. There’s a product called TropiClean brushing gel that can help to save her remaining teeth. If she will let you brush her teeth with it it will work faster, but according to the groomer who told me about it, if you just get it into their mouth it will start cleaning the plaque away. My dog Isabelle is nearly 13. I’ve brushed her teeth since I owned her, and used the TropiClean for several years now. She still has all her teeth and astounded the vet when she went in for a check-up and they asked about teeth cleaning and I said “Does she need it?” Looking into her mouth the vet said “I guess not.” She had just assumed a dog that age would have tooth problems because most of them do. (Most dog owners don’t brush their dogs teeth.) TropiClean also makes a clean teeth gel which specifically says no brushing required. I haven’t tried that one, but would guess that it would work even better than the brushing gel for a dog that had teeth to sensitive to brush (or that you may be afraid to brush in case of knocking more of them out.)

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  26. I will say, as a veterinarian, that teeth cleaning isn’t a big deal, especially on an 8 year old. If she has deep roots and wobbly teeth or, worse, infection anywhere in there, that can make chewing painful. Its difficult, though, knowing about anesthesia and all… I won’t lie, I am a nervous wreck when I’m anesthetizing my own animals! I enjoyed the bit about your mom and Cricket together!

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  27. Wonderful post Rachel! Hits home too. Bumble is almost 14 now…he lost two front teeth two years ago and has not lost any more since. His eye sight is gone now, but he has adapted very well. And he has his regular meds, like any old person, but he still runs when we go outside and seems to enjoy life 🙂

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  28. Aww it is sad to think of them getting older so I know where you are coming from.
    The tale of cricket and Grandma made me giggle. Everything is easier wth love and laughs and technically she’s done less than she has to go…. so we keep our paws crossed for lots more years of mischief and mayhem, cricket style!
    Hugs, Carrie & Pups x

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  29. hello cricket its dennis the vizsla dog hay do not envy the pug in her karridj tucker had varyus karridjes and wagons the last fyoo yeerz and all he did the hole time he wuz in them wuz komplayn!!! of korse he komplaynd most of the time ennyway so perhaps it wuz not the karridjes fawlt!!! ha ha ok bye

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  30. Oooooh hit a nerve….ho hum carpe diem, each day must count.

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  31. You should add a donate now button for Cricket’s doggie dentures. 🙂 Our vet wanted to put Maci under and clean her teeth. I didn’t think the nervous heart attack that would have preceded the cleaning was worth it.

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  32. I used to have a pair of Maltese, and in their senior years they took to fighting each other. Knocked out teeth became a once in a while event, I’m afraid. But they still had no trouble in eating.
    It’s a shame you can’t find Cricket’s teeth. The Tooth Fairy would treasure them. 🙂
    By the way, I’ve tweeted this post.

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    • Thank you! Cricket and Butterfly have started to growl at each other and pretend to fight more often. There’s never actual contact, but at least now when Butterfly gets into play pose, Cricket notices it and gives a short bark. They even circled each other for half a second, once.

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  33. I’ve been contemplating putting my dog on hormone replacement therapy with me. Might encourage her “get up” to…get going again. And believe me, if you can put off getting older another 35 years…don’t hesitate. Do it!!!

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  34. This year we’ve noticed our Memphis has become more laid back and she is less interested in running and goofing around than she used to be. She’s 5 1/2 and she’s becoming more like Ellie Mae was when Ellie joined our family at just that age. Unlike your dog, Newf lifespan is 10-12 years.

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  35. Cricket would be so adorable in a housecoat and fuzzy slippers, I see Butterfly more in an afghan with a bow on her head. 🙂

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  36. I can only offer sympathy to Cricket because I too lost teeth in middle age; but I suppose a plate for a dog is out of the question. I’m sure the weeding didn’t contribute – dogs love to gnaw, don’t they, and the consensus is that it is good for their teeth. The vet visit, trauma notwithstanding, might be a good measure, though. If it is gum disease it should be preventable.

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  37. Poor Cricket I hate going to Doctors and Dentists too so I sympathize with her. But you did make me smile with the post with the great images of how she might age with dignity. I would talk to your vet’s receptionist first though and find out if a visit is necessary before you put her through the trauma of another visit.

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  38. I’m with you on holding off the aging process, Rachel. Bailey turns eight this Sunday. Last year he turned seven and I cried. 😦

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  39. Our Sandy is ten years old this year. She hasn’t lost any teeth that I am aware of, but I do have to put water on her food to help soften it for her to eat. I sometimes think about losing her. I try not too, but it comes unbidden. I have buried several pets and I miss them so. I will miss Sandy too when the time comes. Hang in there. 🙂

    Reply

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