A few years ago, I broke my front teeth doing something particularly stupid. I was helping to train a puppy to be a search and rescue dog air scent canine, but that wasn’t the stupid part. To help you understand the stupid part, I first need to explain how puppies are made into SAR dogs.
In Soul Search, the search dogs are depicted as fully trained and certified. You meet Zackie, a Plott hound; Merlin, a Belgian Malinois; and Simber, a Husky – German Shepherd mix. These characters are based on real search dogs who serve the Search and Rescue Teams of Warren County. To be a good search dog, you don’t need a special breed – you need a special dog. These dogs have high drive and can be hell to live with unless you give them physically and mentally stimulating activities.
To train search dogs, you start with puppy runaways. First, the handler jazzes up the puppy, gets her all excited and then runs away with the puppy watching. An assistant holds the puppy until the handler is in place, gives the dog the search command and then lets her loose. After the puppy learns that she needs to go after the person running away, the handler holds the dog and the assistant runs away. The runaways gradually become more complex, with the puppy not seeing where the runner ends up and also increasing distances and wait times before the puppy is sent to find the runner. When the puppy makes a find, the assistant and the handler give the dog a huge party and make her believe that this is the best game ever. Praise must be given in a really loud, high-pitched voice that is distinct from the voice normally used to give commands or say nice things to the dog. Believe it or not, this still isn’t the stupid part.
The puppy in question was a German Shepherd Dog who was still growing into her tail, a huge, thick, fluffy thing that looked out-sized on her body. She was about 80 lbs, but she was still a puppy. So, here comes the stupid part… The puppy found me and I was playing with her and praising her, sounding like some kind of demented Mickey Mouse on crack. Have I mentioned that good SAR dogs tend to be extremely powerful and have really, really high play drives? Well, as I bent down to pet her, she leaped up to be petted and smashed her canine tooth right between my front teeth. (Bending down was not only stupid, it was a rookie error and the end result was completely unsurprising.) Instead of doing the natural thing and screeching my discomfort, everything went preternaturally silent as the puppy and I stared at each other uncertainly. She thought she was in trouble and I thought she might have fractured my skull. As it turned out, neither was true and after I spit out the gritty remainder of my teeth, I stumbled out of the woods with the puppy, reported the injury and looked in the mirror.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to join a vampire coven? I now had the perfect dentition to do just that. The center of both front teeth was missing, but what remained was curved like fangs. The thing that perfected the look was the reality that these fangs were razor-sharp. It was a weekend and the best I could do was leave a voicemail with my dentist. Any thoughts of repair would have to wait until Monday. In a previous post, I discussed pickle juice and the art of cramping muscles for the SAR professional. Dealing with discomfort is nothing new to people who work in SAR and broken front teeth was easily manageable over the weekend, especially since the break itself didn’t hurt.What I did not want to do was inflict more damage on myself. I needed a solution to prevent my newly acquired vampire status from shredding my tongue and lips into ribbons.
The internet is a glorious thing. Just when you think you have it bad, you can simply google your circumstances and, lo and behold, you discover that thousands of others have faced similar and worse situations and survived. I found one gentleman who got into a bar fight and ended his night with multiple broken teeth, leaving him with a mouthful of Ginsu knives. Like me, he was unable to find immediate dental care. Unlike me, he had previous experience with this sort of thing and knew to chew some sugarless gum and plaster the wad over the offending teeth. This worked like a dream and I was able to fall asleep and not wake up with my own blood dripping from my fangs.
In due time, my front teeth were repaired with dental bonding and all was copacetic until recently. Being an introvert, I tend to self-medicate with caffeine. At one point, I had a gram a day habit, which caused my eyeball to twitch and finally convinced me to cut back a little. It turns out that in addition to causing ocular twitching, coffee and tea also create stains in dental bonding. My blogger friend, Simple Ula, has an entire post dedicated to tooth whitening, but unfortunately for dental bonding, no amount of brushing or rinsing can improve things. Besides staining, I was also becoming increasingly disenchanted with some wearing near the bonded area and the fact that these manufactured teeth were slightly shorter than my natural teeth had been. I decided to take action and go for a more permanent fix that would resolve these complaints.
I am half way through the process of having porcelain veneers installed in my mouth.They are said to last 10-15 years, compared to 3-5 years for dental bonding. Legend has it that I will be able to bite into apples again and eat corn on the cob, things I could not do with dental bonding. I say these things to comfort myself while I endure the in-between phase of living with temporary teeth. The dentist affixed something that has the look and feel of beaver teeth. I am confident that with these teeth, I could chew through a mighty forest and build a damn good dam. These temporary teeth are thick and strong and Tony Robbins-white. I think I miss my fangs.
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