Thursday, 18 April, 2024

01 Jun 2002 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 14

RAAF dentist to doggie rescue on East Timor border


RAAF military working dog Cujo has formed a very strong bond with his handler, Sergeant Sean Payne, in the 12 months since they became a team and started working at RAAF Richmond.

That bond has become stronger still during their work with the 2nd Battalion Group based out of Moliana on the East Timor border, so much so that Cujo wants whatever Sean has and wants to do whatever he is doing at the time. For example, when Sean picked up a rock a few weeks ago to throw it away, Cujo immediately snatched it out of his hand, chipping his tooth in the process.

"I noticed he wasn't biting as hard as he should have been," said Sean. "So I went to see the dentist at the Regimental Aid Post (RAP). The dentist, Townsville-based Flight Lieutenant Natalya Taylor, agreed to try and fill the tooth to last Cujo until he got back to Australia."

Not many dentists would like to drill in the mouth of a fully-grown attack-trained German Shepherd without anaesthetic, so Sean next went to see the doctor, another RAAFie, Squadron Leader Karen Leshinskas who agreed to try and put Cujo to sleep for the procedure.

"That was another experience," said Sean, "because he fought the drugs all the way and he pretty much took three times the amount of drugs it would take to put a man under, and then for the rest of the day he couldn't lift his head off the floor. He was just a big sook."

Flight Lieutenant Taylor recalled that her first question was: "does he bite?" She was reassured when Sergeant Payne told her Cujo only bit on command and after Squadron Leader Leshinskas sedated the dog she created a temporary filling. Unfortunately, temporary fillings are designed to be just that in a human mouth and dogs have bigger mouths and Cujo cracked his filling off a couple of weeks later.

This time it was replaced without an anaesthetic and hopefully will remain in Cujo's mouth until he can be given a proper crown back at Richmond - probably by another RAAF dentist!


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