Barefoot Vet - The Book

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Essential First Aid for Dog Owners

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Kippy Goes to the Dentist


When she was about six months old, I was cuddling Kippy and casually examining her at the same time. Monkeys commonly groom one another, so she was very comfortable with this. As I was looking inside her mouth, I noticed a cavity in one of her lower teeth. It didnít seem to bother her, but she was young and it was large, so I thought it should be treated.


However, there were no veterinary dental specialists back in those days, so I called my own dentist and asked for his help. Dr. Kirk was concerned about his qualifications to work on a monkey Ė such small teeth in such a small mouth Ė but his curiosity and the novelty of it all led him to agree. Kippy and I went to his office late on a Saturday afternoon, after all his patients were gone. We figured that while some of his clients might get a kick out of having a monkey in the waiting room, it might not be good for business if they thought they were sharing instruments with a Capuchin.


Judy, a good friend who loved and was loved by Kippy, came with us. She sat in the chair and held Kippy. She was sort of a human chair within the dentistís chair, using her arms as Kippyís seat belt. I gave her, Kippy that is, an anesthetic so she would relax and keep her mouth open for Dr. Kirk, with the not inconsequential benefit that she wouldnít bite him. I didnít tell him about how she attacked my dad, so he didnít know how worried he should be.


He carefully drilled out the cavity to remove all the surrounding decay, just as he would with a human patient, and put in a silver filling. Remember, this was along time ago, so all the marvelous, quick-set filling materials werenít available. As he tamped in the silver, he worried that he would hurt her jaw, but I supported it from underneath, and the whole procedure went very well. I only allowed her soft food that night, and it was like nothing had happened by the next day. Everything was going well until six months later, when the tooth fell out. I hadnít thought about it at the time, but it turns out that monkeys have baby teeth, just like their primate cousins, humans! I never did tell Dr. Kirk that he had worked so hard on a baby tooth.


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