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Nick is one of the most beautiful animals I have ever had the pleasure of owning, with a gorgeous white/gray/black/tan coat and bicolored brown/blue eyes that carry the peaceful grace of unconditional love, a sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) through and through.  His world revolves around his family and tennis balls, the true focus of his existence.  A cuddle and a fetch really is all Nick requires.

Oh, and maybe the remnants of my dinner plate, which Nick patiently waits for me to place in front of him and give permission for him to clean up.

Patient Nick waits for the game to start.

Patient Nick waits for the game to start.

Man’s best friend really does describe my dog.  Nick is.

He’s also my most foul friend.  Green fumes rise from his mouth.  There are times when the stench is overwhelming, a putrid filth that curls my nose hairs and almost causes me to faint.  It’s bad.  I don’t like to push my best friend away, but there are times when I just have to.  Nick’s breed is susceptible to bad teeth and gums due to several factors, all that have to do with their long snout and not being a breed that chews, thus cleaning their teeth naturally.  A professional cleaning is costly, around $200 for the vet to do it because the dog has to be put out for the procedure.  We can afford that about once a year (maybe).  Nick was not cared for well by his previous owners, including his teeth, so he also is not accustomed to anyone brushing his teeth.  If I try to brush his teeth, Nick and I go from being best friends to worst enemies.

One of the local pet supply retailers had a seminar yesterday afternoon to teach customers how to properly clean their dog’s teeth, one of those ploys to sell oral hygiene products.  I decided it was worth the risk.  Included in the seminar was a coupon for a teeth brushing at the store.  Bonus.  You can try to sell me something, but even better if there is a chance I will be able to look Nick in the face again.

Only Nick and I showed up.  Not only that, but the store’s employees were not even aware of the seminar even though it was posted at the entrance.  I took Nick back to the grooming salon, asked about it, and a blushing woman behind the counter apologized, offering to show me the method she uses in the salon and for free.  Bonus again.  Free goes a long way in my book.

Nick was not sure he wanted to be on board with the whole thing, but being the polite dog that he is, he relented as the groomer swept him up in her arms and plopped him on the grooming table.  I’m not sure why Nick let her pick him up like that.  Most people suck up to him, tell him how handsome he is, maybe try to give him a treat (which he usually rejects), and talk to him like a little baby.  She didn’t do any of that, instead just sliding her left forearm under his chin and the other under his fluffy butt.  I watched as he stood up on the table, the little dog leash clicked in place on his collar, with a “hey Dad, I am not so sure about this” look in his eyes.  Then he began to shiver.

I felt the tears start to well up in my eyes, which felt strange since I don’t think even watching my kids get their first shots inspired that much emotion out of me.

“You want to come around and help me with this?  This really is a two person job.”

So I held Nick around the head and under the chin while the groomer showed me how to pull back his lip, spread the foam and gel on his teeth, and gently brush his teeth and gums.  The groomer deftly shot another type of foam over his tongue and teeth.  The job was done, quick as could be.  She showed me another product, an additive to Nick’s water dish, told me where to get it, and my still shaking animal cowered next to me after being let loose from the grooming table restraint.

“That wasn’t so bad was it little buddy?”  The woman saved her sucking up to him for after the job was done.  Nick licked her in the face, let her hug him around the neck, turned around and pushed his fluffy butt into her to beg a butt rub.  She won him over.  I turned my butt to her for the same treatment, with no success.  Too bad.  She was a cute blue eyed freckled brunette.

I did give in to buying some of that water additive.  Nick’s breath does seem minty fresh now.