Sunday, March 01, 2009

Eadie's First Hike~

Today was Eadie's first hike.

I took her to the Joshua Ranch trailhead to see how she would do on the trail. Seamus and Augie came along with their usual pre-hike excitement.

After several minutes in the car, Eadie threw up. Since she threw up the last two times I've taken her in the car, I am getting the sense that Eadie throws up in the car. This does not bode well for a dog that is supposed to be my newest hiking companion. In order to be my hiking companion, she has to travel in the car because that is how we get to the trails.

Eadie didn't know what to make of all the new smells. The uphill portion of the early hike bothered her and she didn't like her new harness.

After about 20 minutes, Eadie had an encounter with a stink bug. This did not go well for her. The stink bug scurried away while Eadie shook her head a lot and began sneezing.

A few minutes later, I gave the dogs some water. After politely waiting her turn, Eadie proceeded to empty the water bowl and look up at me for more. I poured more water and she drank that too. Five minutes later, she threw up.

Hiking is a new experience for Eadie and she is not in shape for it. The dog was a trooper and didn't complain or flop down under a bush the way Seamus does when he thinks it's time to rest. But I did not sense a love of the great outdoors emanating from Eadie and I don't believe I saw her smile. She ignored the wildlife after the stink bug incident.

After an hour and a half, we finished the hike and got in the car to go home. It is an eight minute drive from the trailhead. I cracked windows and opened the sun roof so Eadie could have air.

When we pulled into the driveway, Eadie promptly threw up.

Floss Promises~

This week I had my teeth cleaned.

I have a mouth that makes a lot of plaque so I get to see Rhonda the Hygienist every four months. Rhonda replaced Gail, who retired from dental life. I referred to Gail as the Floss Nazi and made sure to use lots of floss in the days leading up to my appointments. Being a professional, Gail caught on to this ruse and managed to extract regular floss promises. I always reverted to haphazard flossing habits until the week before the next appointment. This behavior resulted in Gail following me out to the parking lot with extra floss samples and a shiny bullwhip.

My appointment with Rhonda lasted a long time because poor flossing habits have consequences. Sometimes, I neglect to brush well before going to bed.

These lazy dental habits pay off with a FULL PROBE EVALUATION. This includes a very sharp dental tool and numbers representing one’s gum health being called out while another dental worker records the shame into a computer, next to a diagram of your teeth. Rhonda pokes this sharp tool into the gums with too much gusto and my poor floss relationship is recorded for posterity. If my dental records are needed for identification after an untimely plane crash, my embarrassment will surely transcend the grave.

What you want are very low numbers. A one means dental sainthood and is reserved for people like Rhonda, Gail, and the doctor himself. I think they clean each other’s teeth weekly with the latest professional tools and gadgets.

A two is pretty damn good. If you get twos, admiration oozes from the dental staff and your picture goes on the Smiling Wall of Fame. Most dental patients are content with threes, interspersed with an occasional two (“good job!”) and a possible four in troubled areas (“uh oh!”).

Threes mean you don’t have to slink out of the office with your head down. You can make eye contact with the staff while promising to hit those trouble spots with extra vigor henceforth. You probably won’t be getting the FAQ brochure about dental implants.

But I reached a new low this time. Rhonda was very serious behind her mask and goggles as she called out the numbers in a strained voice. There was a three here and there, but she fixated on the number “four.” Fours mean you have been very, very bad. The lady imputing the numbers was practically snorting. I can’t PROVE that she actually snorted, but the vibe was palpable. I was mortified.

I can live with “fours,” since becoming toothless is not in the near future. It means hunkering down and bonding with dental floss and making sure a toothbrush is in the purse at all times. Fours mean the doctor might come in.

Then Rhonda barked out the worst number of all: A FIVE! I think she said it TWO TIMES. Fives mean that if you possessed a tail, it would be plastered between your legs because you are looking at periodontal catastrophe. There will be plans to peel back your gums and to scrape the teeth with scalpels and hacksaws. Whirring power tools are in the equation too, with liberal doses of consternation and a substance akin to Clorox for Dentists.

The worst part is when Rhonda produces a model of Mr. Mucky Mouth, a teaching tool designed to scare little kids into brushing and flossing. Mr. Mucky Mouth is the stuff of nightmares.

I think I shall begin wearing dental floss as jewelry. One visit with Mr. Mucky Mouth is enough.

This time I promise.