It took Steve and me many years to wrap our heads around the idea of brushing dog teeth. Neither of us grew up with dogs who had their teeth brushed. (Who did that back in the 50s and 60s?) We got our own first dog in 1977, and I don’t remember ever having her teeth cleaned — even at the vets.  I think we just accepted the idea that dogs had stinky breath. You dealt with it.

Somewhere along the line, we became conscious that good dog owners were supposed to brush their pets’ teeth. We acquired canine toothbrushes and Steve began brushing the beast teeth when I read bedtime stories to our sons (listening as he brushed.) But it didn’t become a real Responsibility until we acquired Tucker and learned that brushing his teeth “at least three times a week” was listed among our duty as conscientious puppy-raisers. Now, eight years and four pups later, it’s almost as much part of our routine as cleaning our own choppers.

Steve gets all the credit for this. He’s developed a complicated grooming routine that he executes faithfully. Already Dionne has accepted the program. She was one of the few pups who never tried to bite the brush. Sometimes she tries to bat it away, but overall, she submits to the dental ministrations more than she resists them.

Another step is ear-cleaning. The dogs almost seem to enjoy that. Steve squirts a solution onto a cotton ball…

…and swabs. (Interestingly, some dogs just naturally seem to have dirty ears, but it’s too early to tell about Dionne.

Most tricky is toenail-maintenance, another task we never messed with pre-CCI. When we got Tucker, we bought a set of clippers. The black quick of his toes was relatively easy to see through his white nails, so we managed to trim them without spilling too much blood. But when we got black, black Yuli,  avoiding the quick seemed hopeless, and we switched to a little battery-powered Dremel drill that grinds away the nail, rather than cutting it.

All our puppies since them have adjusted nicely to being Dremeled. Dionne is the latest member of that well-groomed club.


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