One day, a couple of years ago, I was walking down a hill, dreaming up things about Kate and the Horses, and I thought, “Her dad is a dentist, and her mom is a singer.” Then a cavalcade of ideas followed. She was a performer, charismatic, the type of person who mesmerizes people, who everyone loves on sight. He was a pedodontist, a dentist for children, someone they dreaded coming to see, someone who tried to make up for that with silly gifts and awkward patter. But despite their differences, these parents love each other, and they love their daughter, Kate, a girl who manages to challenge the world every time she opens her eyes.
I resolved to do research on this father. My mate and I invited my beloved dentist and his wife out to lunch, and I asked questions about what it was like to be a dentist and dentists in general. Dr. Nakamoto recited of litany of character flaws that make up your average dentist, but I took it all with a huge grain of salt. He had been my dentist for years. I felt so fortunate to have met him. When I went to see him, it didn't feel like dental work. It was an opportunity to spend time with a friend.
Then Dr. Nakamoto did the unthinkable. He retired. After an appropriate period of grieving, I went to a a local dentist. It was a shock to my system. It's very different when you go to a dentist who is not your friend. It's unpleasant and scary. I felt I had walked into a nightmare. I left that place and never went back.
Recently, I knew I had to find another dentist. This time, I tried a different approach. Instead of picking a name out of a hat, I surveyed my neighbors. I made a confession. “I'm scared to death of going to the dentist. Do you know one who's kind?” I made a discovery. Many people are afraid to go to the dentist. Through these conversations, I found my new local person. People recommended many dentists to me, but I chose this dentist because he had dogs at his office. Again, I felt like I was back with Kate and the Horses, where Kate is able to do difficult things with the help of animals.
On my first visit, Mike went with me for moral support. There were no signs of dogs in the waiting room. I sensed a trick.
“Where are the dogs?” I asked the receptionist.
“They're in back,” she told me, and moments later, she opened the door, and Tux, a young Boston terrier, bounded in to greet us. He let us pet him for a minute and then he raced back to the door. Hmm. I was again skeptical. Was this all just smoke and mirrors?
But Lulu, an older, more experienced Boston terrier, strolled into the room once I sat down in the dentist's chair. She looked up into my eyes.
“I need your help,” I told her, although I didn't say it out loud.
She jumped in my lap. It made an enormous difference. I was so happy she was there.