When I got Edsel, he had normal teeth.
I got Edsel off a website, like how you’d order pornography or books or a bride from overseas. It was a “rescue” site that I now sort of suspect, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing. I wish I still had the picture they used to advertise him.
A person was holding Eds over her shoulder, and all you saw was a puppy head and 50 feet of ears. “I want this ears-y one,” I announced to Marvin, to whom I was formerly betrothed.
Marvin sighed. He didn’t really want a puppy. We already HAD a dog. And that was my point: Our dog needed a playmate.
Tallulah up there was correct. She tolerated Edsel for the rest of her life, but he was never her cup of tea. But oh, was she ever his.
The point of all this is that Edsel had normal teeth when I got him.
Did I mention I got him in a gas station parking lot? The “rescue” place online said to meet them there, in a town called Mt. Airy, about an hour away. They were very late. I nervously watched the sun set beyond the Shell sign as I awaited their (late) arrival.
Eventually, a sleazy-looking van pulled up and I worried I’d end up in that Silence of the Lambs pit, even though Marvin my husband, fmr., was with me. Marvin wasn’t what you’d call an alpha.
In the van was an old lady driving, with an even older lady in the passenger seat, holding my “rescue.” “She’s got dementia,” said the driver. “That puppy loves her.”
Edsel did seem to love her. He looked at me nervously as I handed over the $90 “rescue fee.” What I didn’t know then was that he was not a fan of strangers, and at the time, that’s what I was.
“His mom was a white German shepherd,” the driver–sorry, the RESCUER–told me. “She was a backyard dog. Someone got her pregnant and her owner said he didn’t want a bunch of puppies.”
Well why didn’t he–
How could he–
God, I hate people. Also, his mom was a Carolina Dog. You can’t tell me any different. A white German shepherd. Pfft.
As I took Edsel to my car, with his normal teeth, the lady said, “I didn’t think anyone would take this homely one.”
I’d been planning to name him Sputnik, but on the drive home, I said to Marvin, “What about Edsel? The car nobody wanted.”
Marvin was a Ford guy. He was all up in that name choice. Five months later, Marvin was gone, but I don’t blame Edsel for that. I blame today’s vows, schmows attitude.
His teeth began to stick out as he aged. Edsel’s, not Marvin’s.
For a while, it was sort of charming.
Eventually, people started asking me, “Has the vet ever said anything about orthodontia?”
The vet never has. But I can tell you one thing: Eds doesn’t use those bottom teeth. Like, at all. He doesn’t chew with them. They stick too far out. The only thing those teeth are good for is bouncing popcorn off them when I toss him a kernel.
About a year ago, he was staring at me as he does, and I noted one of the bottom teeth was loose. I panicked and made an appointment with the vet, who seemed to think I was fairly berserk. He told me as dogs age (Edsel will be 9 in July) their teeth get loose, particularly at the bottom. I remembered Tallulah having one less tooth one day, on her bottom row.
“It’ll come out very soon,” he said.
Define “very soon.”
Because for ONE YEAR, I’ve watched that thing get looser, and I’ve watched him not use his bottom teeth, and I’ve watched popcorn bounce off it, but in his mouth that tooth remained.
It became more and more obvious, and I considered calling the vet to pull it, but that seemed like it would traumatize this already-nervous animal.
Yesterday, I could tell that we were near the end. That thing was ready to be gone. And it was making him uncomfortable. I saw it in the way he ate, and the way he fetched Blu. He’d…work his way around his tooth.
So at lunchtime, I had an idea. Usually, we go into the yard and fetch Blu until he gets so tired that he brings it back only halfway. Edsel will never give up on fetching Blu, but he will bring it back about three inches from where he retrieved it, like, O, dis close enuf. And right then I know.
But yesterday, instead of throwing Blu across the yard as far as I can (news flash: I throw like a girl), I tossed Blu straight up in the air. I know he doesn’t use his bottom teeth to fetch, hence the dang yearlong wait for the leaving of the tooth, but I know when he leaps up to catch, sometimes his bottom row gets involved.
I only had to toss Blu in the air, like, five times until he dropped it and smiled up at me with a gap.
The relief was instant. He was a new dog. Well. He’s still neurotic Edsel, the puppy nobody wanted. But a newer version of Edsel, let’s say that.
And that’s the toof.