Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dentistry on the ranch.

This one was a surprise to me (I seem to be surprised surprisingly-easy these days).

It seems that here on the Hamster Ranch on Hamster Hill in New Hamster, there is a regular need for dentistry. Hamster teeth keep growing for their entire lives and even though they spend at least 18 hours a day chewing, their molars (which are surprisingly large) don't wear evenly. There are large flat areas but the edges develop long sharp points. It isn't a problem for hamsters that live out in the wild, but these are SHOW hamsters. They do a sport called dressage. To do dressage and most other hamster sports the beasts need to wear a halter, a very snug fitting halter. Think of it like a bull dog: those jowls and cheeks (and drool) all hang out the side so that nothing gets crunched by teeth. If you take a roll of duct tape and compressed the cute-smiling-fat little face into a slim snout like a normal dog has, the bulldog would be biting his cheeks between his teeth as he attempts to take your arm off because of the nasty thing you did with the duct tape.

Well these hamsters with halters have the same problem. So it's time to call in Reeney the vet. Reeney also does teeth, so today she is Reeney the dentist.

I was NOT prepared for what was going on in the barn.

There was this contraption, the likes of which even I, Mr. Gadget himself, could not have thought up. It pries open the mouth so Reeney can reach up in there and do all kinds of things without the slightest worry about losing an arm or two.

This shiny gizmo doesn't bother the hamster because the hamster is stoned. Very stoned. Even I could ride this hamster. In fact if I could keep all of these hamsters stoned like this, I would learn to appreciate them enough to call them horses. They would actually be fun to be around instead of just being perceived by me as giant composting machines that cost a huge amount of money to operate. Horses are NOT a reasonable hobby. They consume your life. Hampsters are much easier. I am avoiding silly things in my life so this is NOT a top-notch horse farm for high-end horses, this is the Hamster Ranch on Hamster Hill in New Hamster (this is properly spoken while closing my eyes and clamping my hands over both ears). Although I have found that changing the name(s) doesn't solve the problem of chipping ice, shoveling lots-o-stuff, large hay bales, grain, wood chips, and now... dentistry. OK, back to the dentistry.
Reeney pried open the mouth with the little ratchets and put a magnetic flashlight on the upper lip of this gizmo and then she puts a little battery pack up on the nose. This gave her a nice view of an armlength of mouth. She takes a water squirter and cleans out the mouth and a pound of grass pours out on the floor. After I figure out that the green is 'food in process' instead of algae washing out of somewhere, I begin to understand one of the advantages of having a mouth (and tongue) the size of my thigh, you can eat and run, literally. These things are prey animals, so they never know when they have to run away, so they have a large mouth that they can empty out when it is convenient. They don't intend to... it's just that they really chew their food like we all are supposed to, and so even if their cheeks don't puff out, they are carrying an entire meal with them at all times, just like..., just like..., well, like a hamster.
Now if I had a mouth like that, maybe I could handle clothes shopping a little better. I could pre-load with a variety of foods and when I am standing in the smooth linoleum 'men's area' that winds through Filene's, I could just stand there and eat. (ok, back to the story)
Reeney started to grind the teeth but Lynn-Winn (the patient) gave the signal that she was not quite stoned enough. Reeney backed off, went to her truck and came back with 'the stuff' that Lynn-Winn wanted.
Five minutes later Lynn-Winn gave us the peace sign and Reeney was ready to go again. She picked up her Black & Decker power drill with a long tool mounted on it. At the end of a stainless steel shaft was a one inch diameter hood that is mounted perpendicular to the shaft. Inside the little hood is a rotating disc with diamonds that very quickly could grind through anything in it's way.
Now through this entire process Beth is grinning (she likes vet stuff), I am standing there with my camera hanging around my neck but because my jaw was hanging so far down from utter amazement, I kept getting the back of my camera wet. Noel, the co-owner of the horse, and Reeney the vet/dentist, who is also a co-owner of the horse and chattering continuously at high speed [at] each other like a couple of high-school girls. They have NOT stopped talking except when Reeney went to get more drugs (wow, it really WAS like high school, man). While Reeney's mouth was still going full speed she takes this tool that can cut through titanium, and just shoves it up this stoned horse's mouth and starts grinding away. I was squirming like crazy but Lynn-Winn was doing the equivalent of "wow, man!", it was obvious in her eyes. Reeney extracts the tool and shoves her arm up there to feel how much more there is to do, retracts the arm, inserts the tool and starts grinding, all while talking and not even taking a breath from what I could see.
It took about fifteen minutes and then after a 'rinse and spit', she loosened up the speculum and started removing the equipment.
Lynn-Winn stood in the stall and smiled while we talked about the process. This process is necessary because of the type of work that these horses do. She is asked occasionally "who do you need to do this? What do wild mustangs do?". She replies that wild mustangs do not wear halters and they probably stab their cheeks alot.
"But it's unnatural", and Reeney replies that there is nothing natural about thoroughbreds, they are a man-made creature, they don't exist in the wild, and just like most breeds of horses and dogs, they were created by man and need to be maintained my man (or in this case, Reeney).
Reeney left and I spent time recovering from the ordeal.
A couple of hours later Lynn-Winn's podiatrist, who calls himself a farrier, came and did a manicure. Everything got cleaned up. Lynn-Winn seemed to be in good spirits and didn't mind all of the attention at all. Last night Lynn-Winn, Smarty, and the grey mare all loaded up into a trailer and at this moment are cruising toward Aiken, NC, where it is warm. Nice and warm.


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