In the part of my life that is not all dogs, all the time, there live four more-or-less glorious children of the female persuasion, all, of course, as brilliant as Border Collies, as stubborn as Saluki, as determined as Dandie Dinmont. Two are a true fox-red, and two a blonde that reminds me of a particularly fine Tibetan Spaniel.

The terminal child of that fine grouping is just now nine months old, the age at which the testicles drop and… oh, wait. She is just now nine months old, developing a crawl speed that rivals how fast this fat old dog-breeder can walk, assiduously eating dog ears, and in every other way achieving what, because of the above gloriousness, I am sure is much more than any other member of her peer group.

Except for one thing: Those things in your gums.

Now as you may have guessed, we are not big baby-talkers in this house. We’re far more likely to dandle a child on a knee and inquire “Were you challenged by the rather surreal conceit of that film?” or, if it is my knee that is the dandling-platform, “Did you see how Clue yawned during that play interaction, signaling that she was ready to slow down and separate from the physical action?” But there is one thing that absolutely reduces me to squeaky monosyllables:

The toofs.

Yeah, verily, I will snuggle a baby up against me and say, “My dear, you are, as I believe I have mentioned, truly glorious. I am so proud of everything you do. BUT WHERE IS DOSE TOOFS?”

And she cracks an eternally gummy smile and keeps her own council.

But today, as I began to breastfeed her (and, gentle reader, let me just say that the first time I saw a bitch go into the whelping box, sit down, and squeeze her eyes closed and take hissing breaths while she was pummeled, scratched, and drained dry by a seething horde of puppies, I said “I am there with you, sister-friend”–for such has been my life for eight of the last eleven years), I felt a new and additional frissure of pain. And I knew, and did draw her away from my nourishing bosom and exclaim:


Yep. Indeed, the score now stands at Toofs: 1, nourishing bosom: 0. Expect the point spread to widen.

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