A good reason to smile again; RECORD PETS.
A YEAR ago, Tommy's life was hardly worth living. Every day dragged by. But then, that's what happens when you're in constant pain.
It all started years ago. When he was a puppy, his owners did all the right things. They got him vaccinated and wormed. They listened carefully to the dietary advice they were given. They were regulars at training classes. They attended puppy parties at their vets and watched eagerly as they were shown how to brush their new pet's teeth.
Then, like almost everyone else in the world, their enthusiasm waned. Daily tooth brushing diminished to once a week. Then, finally, it stopped.
The sensible puppy diet was gradually replaced by human biscuits, left-overs, the odd bit of chocolate and some silver pouches of mush, whose packaging was far superior to its contents.
By the time he was a year old, Tommy's teeth were stained by plaque that had mineralised and hardened to form tartar.
The children no longer liked being squashed in the back of the car with him as he breathed his smelly breath on them. His popularity in the family dropped, though his halitosis was hardly of his own making.
Two years later, Tommy was one of the 80 per cent of our dogs and cats of similar age who suffer from periodontal disease. It's hardly a statistic to be proud of.
By now, because of his breath, he was sleeping on his own in the kitchen at night, when previously his basket was in a bedroom.
Perhaps, you might argue, that is where he always should have been but he still took it as a personal insult when he was moved.
Some time later - nobody is really sure when - Tommy broke an upper molar tooth, probably when he was chewing one of the big knuckle bones that his owners gave him. Funny that, since they only put up with his gnawing because they thought it was good for his dentition. Over the next months and years, the exposed root caused Tommy considerable discomfort. He didn't show it, of course. It just became part of his life.
He still wagged his tail when his owners returned home. He still walked for miles at his owner's side. It was just that he didn't enjoy things quite as much.
Where dinner used to be his favourite time of the day, now he ate, not for pleasure, but just to live.
There was always that dull ache in his mouth that wouldn't go away. Then, just as the situation was becoming intolerable, his owners heard about Pet Smile Month. Encouraged by promises of a free dental check-up and bags of goodies, Tommy was duly presented, for the first time in a while, to his veterinary surgeon, who quickly diagnosed and remedied his dental distress.
You can do the same during September. Visit www.petsmile.org for information or contact your vet.