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What’s That Clicking Sound?

by Barry KuKes

About a month ago, our oldest dog Spencer, made a clicking noise with his jaw. It was as if he was chattering from being too cold. He didn’t emit this noise regularly, but enough that we took notice. One day last week, the chattering became constant. He would still eat, do his business, sleep, etc., but his jaw would chatter non-stop. He is not good about letting anyone look inside his mouth, but we decided to take look or take him to our veterinarian.

As my wife approached Spencer and nearly placed her hands on his snout, he opened his mouth and spat out a large piece of something. We didn’t know what it was at first, but then upon further inspection, we realized it was his back tooth. This was the ugliest tooth I had ever seen. We think the tooth became loose from his gums and jaw except for one root holding on for dear life. As the tooth shifted in his mouth, his jaw couldn’t close, and thus the chattering noise was the result.

I bought Spencer a small cupcake as a tooth-fairy reward for saving me a thousand-dollar vet bill. His jaw has been silent ever since.

I recently received several e-mails regarding a couple of my columns. One pet owner, Nancy E., says, “I had a Chihuahua for 16 years, and she must have bitten me at least once a week.” She says how much she loved the dog and hoped the dog knew how to spell Czechoslovakia so she would see her again.

Another reader, Dennis H., wrote, “I have a 13-year-old Labrador who has been receiving chiropractic treatments, and they are working!” He also mentioned that he has a 4-year-old Weimaraner/Blue Heeler that is coming along. Dennis recently realized that PUP is an acronym for “Pick up poop!”

Michele C., from Palm Coast, wrote, “We have one dog that is a rescue. He is part of our family, and we love him dearly.”

Thanks to everyone who e-mails me weekly. I enjoy reading your comments and including quips in future columns.

Some of the e-mails I receive are not happy and friendly. Some are sad, while others are downright mean and angry. One e-mail I recently received from a lady in Tallahassee stated how she was very upset that animal shelters are not 100 percent no-kill and that the employees at the shelter should be ashamed of themselves for killing innocent animals. She also stated that she would no longer donate to any shelter that was not a no-kill.

I am sorry that this lady feels the way that she does. Without donations from the public, animal shelters cannot continue their quest to qualify as a no-kill shelter. The qualification is a 90 percent live release rate. Typically, around 5 to 10 percent of shelter animals may be humanely euthanized due to terminal illness, injuries beyond mending, and extreme aggression and considered too dangerous to be adopted.

Blaming an animal shelter for humanely euthanizing animals that are suffering is like blaming a hospice center for letting people die. Society is responsible for the overpopulation of domesticated animals. The animal shelter is the place society brings unwanted and abandoned animals. Animal shelters do their best, but they can’t save every animal. I replied to the lady who wrote to me and asked if she thought an animal shelter that increased their live release rate from just 40 to 94 percent was a major accomplishment, and she replied, “Not good enough!”

Please keep in mind that the intentions of animal shelters are to save and find as many animals as possible a forever home. Please spay and neuter your pets to reduce the population of unwanted animals. Also, please support your local animal shelter with your donations. Fewer animals will be saved without funding to support their operations and expand their programs. By withholding a donation, you are contributing to the reduction of live release. Lastly, please adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the former community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at View more of his work at minicooperpro