Well, Tender at the Bone is admittedly the title of a book about food (if you love food and good writing as much as I do, this is a fantastic book by food critic Ruth Reichl), but I borrowed the phrase to continue our discussion about dental health and chewing on bones. If you haven’t followed it yet, read the comments from my A Fully Functional Tooth? post, they add lots of meat to the conversation (sorry).
A few readers asked for more photos from Africa, so I thought I’d combine topics and send some more pictures of our time with the pack of African Wild Dogs.
Relevant to dental health, here’s a photo of the mouth of “Jones,” the 4 year old breeding male who was darted and radio collared when we were there watching. What I think is interesting is how good some teeth look (keeping in mind the comment made earlier reminding us that white, clean teeth are not necessarily healthy teeth) and how bad the 2 problem teeth are. The bright red area on the lower gum, by the way, was probably caused by either the act of predation that morning or from ingesting part of the kill, and was only temporary.
But, look at the lower canine and upper incisor. Ouch. I’ll have to ask Dr. McNutt how common it is to see a set of teeth like that, but I’d guess it’s not uncommon at all. There is a high rate of injury (and death) in African Wild Dogs, either from lions or from injuries received while taking down prey. What happened to these particular teeth? Who knows… could be from chewing on bones, or from strikes by horns of ungulates?
In case the photo above is a little bit more intimate than you want to get with a AWD, here’s a portrait showing off their huge, gorgeous, cartoon animal ears.
And here’s a photo of the pups just seconds after an adult had walked in and regurgitated for them. It all happened behind the bush, and was over, from start to finish, in about 4-5 seconds, but you can see one of the pups licking his lips, apparently having been one of the lucky ones and getting his share of the food.
Meanwhile, back at the farm: Will is back to chewing on his stuffed Kong in the morning, and I haven’t gone out to find just the right real bone to give to him and Lassie. Admittedly, although I have decided to let them eat carefully selected bones for a short time, I haven’t yet gone looking for them.
It was sweltering hot and humid last night (okay, all is relative: hot for here at this time of year). Mostly it was humid without a breath of fresh air. It’s a bit better today, and tomorrow it will be better still. Can’t wait for the nights to get cool again so I can snuggle under a blanket with Lassie on one side and Willie on the other!