My friend L is a social worker. As part of the job, she takes case notes about clients, jotting down health history as well as the occasional personal detail. What kind of detail, one might naturally ask? Her answer: "Oh, you know. The very long single rattail braid. Or -- you know -- poor dentition."
I love this phrasing. The delicacy and precision of "poor dentition" over any one of the less kindly descriptions of gappy or discolored teeth.
There are no metal kennel gates for Lilly to chew at our house. Her teeth have continued to deteriorate regardless. She has, for instance, a strangely porcine obsession with acorns. Despite -- or maybe because of -- the bitter, tannic flavor, she seems to enjoy rooting around the yard and snarfling them up. The raw acorn of course, is a stout oaken nugget quite capable of standing up to the odd tooth, so along with the bitter chunks of acorn meat, she chows down on her own teeth.
Also, though it squeezes at my heart to remember it, we helped loosen at least a couple of those teeth for her. She's got a spry way about her. When encouraged, she'll tear up her toys and haul ass around the house, all spring-loaded mischief. But the enthusiasm has a downside. At first, we did not notice that this fierce little tug-of-warrior was leaving the odd tooth fragment embedded in her fuzzy toy after an evening's frisk.
There she'd be, shivering a little with excitement, holding Cry-baby Lamb-chop clamped between her jaws, the light of battle still shining in her buggy eyes, despite the little smear of blood on the greyish fur of the toy. Like a kid refusing to admit chill after hours in the lake, she'd want us to continue yanking on the toy. She'd want to go on sliding on the hardwood with her back legs braced, growling.
Smiling her jack-o-lantern grin in a Platonic ideal of poor dentition.
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