When he bares his teeth, it's time to run


We veterinarians always keep an eye out for teeth. If we aren't careful, some of our patients might sink theirs into us.

We veterinarians always keep an eye out for teeth. If we aren't careful, some of our patients might sink theirs into us.

On this particular day, however, we found ourselves concerned with a different kind of teeth.

Dr. Zach Smith was knee-deep in stink. A mare's foal had died inside her several days before she arrived at our clinic. You can just imagine the scene — bare bones with decomposing flesh attached. The odor is beyond belief.

As often happens, several people were standing nearby to watch, all willing to lend a hand. Dr. Smith was carefully removing the putrid pieces one at a time, taking care not to lacerate any of the delicate tissues that line the birth canal. It's a slow and tortuous job. As the worst of it came out, the flies moved into the front row, while the spectators retreated.

Only the most dedicated and brave souls remained. One gentleman was determined not to let Zach go it alone. He was gloved up and bouncing from place to place, awaiting his chance to help.

The parts became bigger until finally the torso started its journey out. The smell became overwhelming. It was about this time that the gentleman (whom we'll call Mr. Teeth) got a huge whiff of the odor that was so strong one could perceive it with other organs besides the nose. It was the kind of stink that could crawl into the pores of your skin — it even seemed to have a taste. Exposing a new set of dentures in a kind of grimace, it was obvious Mr. Teeth's senses were getting saturated as the largest part of the foal came sliding out.

The smell must have permeated even his new chompers, because it began to trigger a case of the heaves. They started slowly, evolving into longer, louder stomach contractions.

Our attention left the horse and focused on Mr. Teeth.

"Better run, he's gonna lose it!" yelled Dr. Smith as the crowd started backing away.

There was a certain melodic rhythm to Mr. Teeth's guttural noises now. His cheeks expanded like Louis Armstrong's, followed by a deep puffing sound from his dry lips. He started looking for a suitable place to let fly. The nasty gloves he was wearing further complicated his distress. Each time he reached toward his face to quiet the swells, the goo on the gloves just made things worse for him.

People scattered like flies, but most wanted to stay close enough to see what would happen next.

Zach urgently started barking orders to the man: "Just use the sawdust! Don't run that way, there's nothing to vomit on! Go outside! And take those gloves off!"

None of Zach's words seemed to penetrate the fog that had overtaken Mr. Teeth. He just kept running in circles and touching his face with the slimy gloves.

On about the 30th lap, the sound of chattering teeth rose to the fore. It sounded a bit like someone rolling dice in a Yahtzee cup. Everyone was ready to duck; it was just a question of which way the teeth were going to go. Each time Mr. Teeth spun around, the audience bent and rose at the waist like football fans doing the Wave.

Finally the teeth went flying. The fellow had managed to slip behind the surgery room into an area that afforded a safe launch.

No one actually saw it happen. The noise was something like a car backfiring, following by a high-pitched ping. The teeth bounced off a metal I-beam.

Ghastly looks were soon replaced by raised eyebrows and gut-busting laughter.

After the performance, Mr. Teeth calmly walked over, picked up his new teeth and put them back into his mouth.

What a day!

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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