Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dogs and Dentistry

Holy crap!

Today was another fine day at the dentists office, continuing the series of tortures devised to contain the rampant gum disease that took over my mouth at some indeterminate time. I got to see my periodontist, who I've become quite fond of and familiar with, for a scaling on my right side.

A scaling consists of about 10 shots into that tender space at the top of your gums, and then major scraping of the teeth underneath the gums. With each shot you grow more tense and freaked as it's both excruciating and weird. The capper is a blinding shot right above your front teeth which hits a nerve which then sends an arrow of pain up through your tongue and into the back of your throat. It is both bizarre and awful, and hit some pressure point which sent me into an embarrassing fit of weeping and shaking.

I tried to explain in between sobs that I am not usually this nutty and and can sit through multiple consecutive hours of tattooing with nary a drug nor a peep, but I knew I was just scaring the crap out of the dental assistant, who handed me tissues and looked nervously at the door for escape.

Well, me too, pal!

My periodontist is the bomb, though, she's French and very small and elegant and wears a pink lab coat. She says things like, "You are ztill young and byootiful and we must do everysing we can to zave your teef." And then she wipes my eyes and pats my hand and tells me to take deep breaths. I know she's just saying whatever she can to calm me down and get on with it, but I like that she's fancy and tells me what I want to hear.

After the shots are given and she digs around with pointy instruments for what feels like an eternity, they throw you out on the street to find your way home alone, tear-stained and drooling blood out of a slack and benumbed hole that was once your mouth. So pretty. It's extra delightful for me because the office is in Soho, which means the streets are crowded with gorgeous people darting in and out of places like Chanel. There are generally no cabs to be found and I lurch home as best I can (I am not an animal!...), dabbing at the drool and snot every few seconds, praying to God for no run-ins with friends, acquaintances, or enemies.

So the whole time I was twitching in the chair I kept thinking about my dog. As mentioned before in previous blogs, he was badly abused before he came to me. He's just twitchy and terrified you're going to beat him, no matter how much loving care he gets. Lately we've taken to calling him the Goggin, because he's kind of like the golem from Lord of the Rings, except much cuter and instead of a ring he's very attached to a pink satin pillowcase. Dog + golem = Goggin.

Okay, I guess you have to be there.

Annnnnnyhoo, every time he gets a bath he stiffens up and crosses his paws in front of his chest and his eyes get really wide and crazy looking in terror. It's absolutely ridiculous and over the top, like a silent film star, but he does it without fail. And that's exactly how I felt in the dentists chair and the image of him kept floating through my brain.

Which leads me to the actual point of this blog. Ha! You thought I wouldn't get there!

I got this email from my friend TARA ANGELL, who fosters cats:

"In a city of $7 latte's, $2500 studio apartments, and $2000 designer tea cup yorkies, it shames me to report that the amount of euthanized DOGS and CATS in 2006 in the NYC city shelter system was nearly 400 per week. Most of these were killed due to LACK OF SPACE AND NOT FOR BEHAVIOURAL REASONS. Times that number by 52 and you get a disgustingly large amount of animals killed by the New York City Shelter System (20,000!). Greatest city in the world? Financial Center of the Universe? What the F???????"


Well, I highly doubt NYC is the only city with these figures. So I went to WWW.HSUS.ORG and found these numbers for 2006:



Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:

6-8 million (HSUS estimate)


Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)


Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)



Ugh. Just let that sink in for a minute. I am fully aware that I'm preaching to the choir in my blogs, but I feel I must throw it out there again.

There are far too many animals out there without homes, and far too many being put down just because homes aren't found quickly enough. And for those of you squawking about no-kill shelters, many of the discarded pets that get there spend too much time in cages to ever be properly socialized and usually end up miserable and neurotic from lack of attention. Life in a cage with no one to love is no life. Domestic animals need our care, our shelter, our love, exercise, sunlight, and attention. We created them to need to live with us, and too many are starving to do just that.

In addition, many of the puppies that are being bred to be sold are not being reared under loving, healthy conditions or with any regard for genetic health. If you are interested in that topic, just google "puppy mills" and you'll be nauseated in no time.

I've purchased two dogs in my life, and they were both awesome, well adjusted, cheerful little maniacs. My Pomeranian (Bean) had a lot of health problems towards the end of her life due to over-breeding, and I'm pretty sure my Pekingese (Panda) would have as well if he hadn't gotten hit by a car at a young age. At the time of both purchases I just didn't have it in my head that buying was feeding into the machine.

Now I have another Peke that I adopted, and I suspect that he too has purebred health issues. He does have epilepsy, but we're not sure if that's genetic or due to the abuse. And even after years of tender care he's still an emotional wreck. He came to me ruined and with rehabilitation he's cheerful and happy, but he still can't handle anything a normal dog can once he gets outside of my apt. It's like having a handicapped child. Or a Goggin, if you will.

So I KNOW first hand that it's easier to purchase than adopt. I'm not sure I would have taken him if I'd known how difficult it would be, but I do love him very much and he's a pretty good little guy who will sit at home quietly for hours waiting for us to come home. And I know I changed his life from bad to good and that's pretty rewarding.

But just to reiterate for those of you who aren't aware of how awful the problem is, I want to give a quick list of things that are important to do with our pets:

1. Adopt. If you are inexperienced and can't deal with an adult dog who may have issues, get a puppy. There are plenty. If you want a small dog, it just takes more time digging around on PETFINDER. There are also organizations dedicated to rescuing certain breeds if you have a particular one that you like.

If you want a cat, there are a ton of them on there as well, including fancy mush-faces (which I am obsessed with) and they don't become as nutty as dogs can be when ill-treated. There are so many frigging cats that need homes it's epidemic.

2. Spay or neuter your damn pet. Please. We don't need any more. No really, we don't. I know your dog is awesome, but get a grip.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, discard your animals because you're moving, your new boyfriend is allergic, you're a selfish lazy fuck, whatever. When you drop your pet off at a shelter, you're abandoning them to terror and sadness in a cage and then probable death. Don't kid yourself that your situation is different. It's not, your pet enters the same system with the others. If you have an animal it is your responsibility to make sure it is taken care of for the rest of it's life. Period.

Okay, that's the end of the lecture. I just didn't feel like I could let those figures go by without commenting. I'm gonna go sip soup and feel sorry for myself now...



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