29 June 2010
My eldest boy Basset, Bentley, is under the knife today. He has had a lifetime of dental problems which have directly affected his weight, despite having an appetite that would put Vanessa Feltz to shame.
Hopefully today, those problems will end, but via an extreme course of action - the vet is going to try to remove all of his remaining teeth.
He has had loads out already but the abscesses keep returning. These are infected and every spot of nourishment his diet gives him is fighting the infection, leaving him susceptible to weight loss. Given that he is the longest Basset I've ever seen, it makes him look unfed and bordering on emaciated. And people notice this.
Bentley is as dim and as wussy a dog as I've ever met in my life. It took weeks to teach him to use a dog door when we first got one. He is frightened of the flapping noise it makes to this day. He is frightened of the cats, who are well aware of this and use it to their advantage on the rare occasions the two factions find themselves together. He is often thrown out by the others when it is raining, and he stands outside, getting soaked, woofing his request to return.
And his dimness has led to him the vets a few times, most notably when he decided that eating stones would be a good idea. Bentley's view in his youth was that if it was pickupable and small enough to swallow, then down it would go. He had to be cut open and what seemed like a whole beachful of pebbles were removed. Fortunately, he seems to have got out of that particular habit.
Since Penny's demise, Bentley has come into his own a bit more and, despite his general cowardliness, he is never afraid to fight back when Boris, our youngest and most boisterous Basset, chooses to have a pop at him. Bentley is eight and a half now and, for a dog of his size and breed, an anaesthetic represents slightly more risk. But he needs his teeth sorting once and for all, and this may involve having to break his jaw in order to get at them. Bless him.
Unfortunately, pet insurance doesn't cover dental treatment and therefore we're paying through the nose - or through the mouth, if you prefer - for the removal of Bentley's remaining rotten molars. However, to have my big boy Basset free of infection, even for him to endure a diet of soaked biscuits and rice pudding, will be very much worth it.