Marvin Olasky – A doggie dentistry debate


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, February 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next: WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky needs your help to resolve a conflict.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Now that my wife Susan and I have been married for 43 years, we never argue—but we occasionally disagree. I hope some of you will advise us about our current concern. I’ve promised to abide by your reactions, win or lose. 

Here’s the backstory. Susan and I are the proud caretakers of our fourth dog, 5-year-old Greeley. We named him after famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley, whose birthday was Feb. 3, 1811. We like Greeley a lot, so what I’m about to relate is no reflection on him: This is about cultural change and standards of animal care. 

We gave our three previous dogs carrots and bones to chew on. We took them to local vets and made sure they had all their shots. But we did not buy them fancy toys, elegant sweaters, and “curated dog food,” such as “a perfect blend of nutrient-packed ingredients… to provide antioxidants and phytonutrients”—whatever they are.

This brings me to a document we received from our local vet, an estimate of the cost to clean Greeley’s teeth: at least $429. That’s the cost of anesthesia, an electrocardiogram, a dental x-ray, the teeth cleaning itself, and other touches. 

Our local vet is by no means extravagant. Some online research taught me that anesthesia-based cleanings can cost up to $1,000. I read statements like this one: “Veterinarians recommend a professional dental cleaning once or twice a year, depending on your dog’s needs.” 

What are Greeley’s needs? Before whipping out a checkbook, I wrote for advice to my west Texas rancher friend John Erickson. John has written more than 70 Hank the Cowdog books, which kids love. John has had great dogs with great teeth. 

My email said, “Our vet would like to clean the teeth of our dog, Greeley, at a cost of $429. The vet’s note says, ‘Be assured that the health of Greeley is our highest concern.’ John, what’s your sense of this?

John replied, “I have never heard of cleaning a dog’s teeth. For $429, you should get a liver transplant.  Our local dental hygienist cleans my teeth for $130. She has never told me my health was her highest concern. She throws in a free toothbrush. I can give you her number if you wish.”

I want to be a good steward of the money God has given us, so I planned to feed Greeley carrots, but Susan still favors a professional cleaning. It’s up to you, dear listeners. Please advise me by an email to [email protected]

For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.


(Photo/Marvin Olasky) Greeley

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Marvin Olasky – A doggie dentistry debate

  1. Barbara Zerbe says:

    Hi, Marvin! My husband and I are firmly in the category of “whatever it takes to keep my dog happy…”. But having said that, I would never have my dog’s teeth cleaned while there are cheap Dentastix for sale and my dog loves them. Give him one every day and he’ll be fine. Blessings, Barb, Bob, and Ponyo Zerbe

  2. Georgia Custer says:

    Marvin, I am driving an hour to see a vet that does cleanings and extractions for $100. My home town vet gave me an estimate of one dog teeth cleaning and extraction $1200 to $1800. We did not clean our dogs teeth when I grew up. Who knew dogs could be so expensive! Come to Pawhuska, OK for the deal!

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