Puppy Drama

Riley Doesn't Brush Her Teeth

Riley is our 13 year old West Highland Terrier.  We’ve raised her since was a puppy. I’ve always considered myself to be a good dog owner.  Riley takes daily walks, gets plenty of attention, and eats some organic dog food that the clever salesgirl convinced us to buy.  It’s made of fois gras or something ridiculous like that.


Admittedly, Riley doesn’t get quite as much attention as she did before we had kids - especially around the holidays.  Her Christmas ornaments have been sent to the back of the tree, and she has had to wear the same hot dog costume the past three Halloweens in a row.


Even so, I still felt confident when I recently took Riley to the vet for her check-up.  Imagine my surprise when the vet asked:  How often do you brush her teeth?  Huh?!  I am supposed to brush the dog’s teeth?  I consider the day a success if I get my kids to brush their teeth.  If floss is involved, I’m up for mother of the year.


At least when I take the kids to the dentist, I have my answers prepared.  Do they floss daily?  Of course.  (Or at least anytime they get popcorn stuck in their teeth).  Do they brush after every meal?  Oh sure, I pack their toothbrushes in the lunch box.


It all dates back to the lies I told my orthodontist in my pre-teen years.  Of course I wear my retainer at all times.  And no, I certainly was not chewing a big chunk of Hubba Bubba when my bracket popped off.


I’ve taken an informal poll of my peers, and can’t find anyone who brushes their dog’s teeth.  But apparently, many people do.  Because we haven’t, poor Riley now has two impacted molars and desperately needs a cleaning.  To complete the procedure, the vet actually puts the dog to sleep.  No Novocain or happy gas…just lights out.  Apparently dogs hate the dentist even more than humans do.


We scheduled Riley for surgery and thankfully everything went well.  Several hundred dollars later, both Riley and I are feeling as confused as ever.  The vet sent us home with some pain killer and a complimentary doggie dental kit.  It included a toothbrush, toothpaste, gel for her gums to prevent plaque buildup and a dental rinse.  Do you suppose I can teach the dog to gargle and spit?  What about floss?  I’ll be sure to post it on You Tube, so keep an eye out.


Riley is now fully recovered (at least physically) from her procedure, but she still looks at me with an expression that seems to say was all of this really necessary?  Either she thinks I’ve lost my mind, or she’s thinking that if I would have been brushing her teeth regularly, she could have avoided all of this. 


The other possibility is that the resentment could go much deeper.  For all I know, Riley could still be angry that we never sprang for those braces during her younger years.


Kids Say Some Crazy Things!

My favorite part about being a children’s author is reading and sharing my stories with kids.  I am often invited to schools as a “visiting author”.  My audience can range from preschoolers to middle schoolers.

Each group is unique.  I love to watch their reactions, hear their laughter, listen to their connections and field their questions.

Their question are always genuine, often very insightful, and occasionally very funny.

I start writing down some of my favorite remarks. 

First of all, kids always ask me how old I am.  I always try to deflect the question, but they typically won’t take no for an answer.  A few boys have said they expected me to be older, so I guess that’s a good thing.

One day I was telling a class that it took me well over a year to write my book.  A boy exclaimed:  “Your hand must have been really tired!”  I started to explain that I wasn’t actually writing for that entire time, but then I just let it go.

One little girl wrote me a thank you note after my visit and asked if I was a teenager.  That letter has been framed and hung it on my wall.

During a classroom presentation, a preschooler raised his hand.  “Is your book available on Amazon?” he inquired.

“Yes,” I laughed.  “How do you know about Amazon?”  

“My Dad says that Mom has an addiction.” 

While reading to a kindergarten class, I asked the kids who has a dog.  Most of them raised their hands.  One little boy blurted out “My dog died.” 

“I’m so sorry,”  I responed.  “Was your dog sick?” 

“No.” he replied.  “He was hit by a comet.”

“That happens sometimes,”  I told him.

Kids like to blurt out random things. “Do you like Luke Bryant?” one boy asked.

 “Today is my birthday!” a little girl once proclaimed.

“That’s why I’m here”, I assured her.

I was asking one group about the difference between an author and an illustrator, when an impatient boy blurted out: “Did you draw the pictures?”

“No.” I responded.  “I wish I could have, but that isn’t my talent.”

He replied: “You could have just taken an art class.”  Why didn’t I think of that?

One day I was visiting a school to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess.  A boy asked me if I am friends with Dr. Suess.  “No,” I replied.  “Dr. Suess has been dead over 25 years.” 

He still thought we should be friends.

When I was explaining part of one book where the older sister is rather bossy, one 5 year old raised his hand.  He admitted:  “I’m pretty bossy.” 

I told him it’s good to be self-aware.

My Dad talks about a TV show he used to watch called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. 

I love how they freely speak whatever comes to their mind.  They never consider whether it might sound strange, or be embarrassing.

It seems to be around age 11 or 12 when we become more self-conscious of what we say.

 I suppose it’s good to filter our words to some extent, but I do love listening to little ones as their  thoughts flood out of their mouth like an open tap.

I wouldn’t want it any other way!