If you’re one of those people who despise getting dental work, this clinic in Marin County, California, has the perfect tool to ease your fears.
Meet Kismet, a 13-year-old toothless Chihuahua who works as a dental therapy dog in Corte Madera Family Dentistry with her owners, Dr. Cameron Garrett and his wife, Debra Garrett. Everyone in the family plays a vital role in the clinic – Dr. Garrett is the dentist, Debra is the dental hygienist, and Kismet is the one who brings comfort to their patients, especially the scared ones!
Exams, cleanings, root canals, you name it. This tiny dog will be there to sit on people’s laps and make them feel relaxed during these procedures.
“The studies are very clear: People who sit and pet animals have lower blood pressure, and that’s what it’s all about,” Dr. Garrett told TODAY. “Quite honestly, as a dentist, I’m as much a psychiatrist or psychologist as anything else. Kismet has allowed us to have another tool in our toolbox.”
The pup was rescued by Muttville Senior Dog Rescue as a stray. Kismet had a lot of medical issues, and the nonprofit invested thousands of dollars to bring her back to health. The dog had all her teeth extracted due to periodontal disease, underwent surgeries to fix a hernia and remove a cancerous mammary gland, and took medications to treat a heart murmur.
Despite Kismet’s popularity among the majority of their patients, the Garretts understand that not every one of them is a dog lover. In the instance that a client is scared of dogs, they keep Kismet behind a gate. This is rare, though, as most of the people who come in the clinic ask to cuddle with her.
Kismet is the perfect dental therapy dog; she never barks and is mild-mannered like most senior dogs. This pup is content in getting all the love she could and giving it back through her sweet snuggles. And the fact that she’s toothless has also become an inside joke between Dr. Garrett and his patients.
“When I introduce Kismet to patients, I will say, ‘This is your cautionary tale to brush and floss,’” he said in an interview with the Marin Independent Journal.
The pup’s role in the clinic became more significant during the coronavirus pandemic, when staff and patients are experiencing heightened feelings of stress. With prevention protocols for COVID-19 in place, the dental clinic’s environment can appear a lot less welcoming than it usually does. And having Kismet around makes everything a lot less difficult for everyone.
“Kismet has been wonderful about getting people back into the swing of things and feeling more comfortable with what is a difficult situation for all of us,” Dr. Garrett said.
This isn’t the first time that the couple had a therapy dog in the clinic. Before Kismet, they had Karma, a terrier mix they adopted from Muttville five years ago for Debra’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, the arrangement didn’t work out and lasted only two days. Karma then moved in with the Garretts. Instead of leaving her home alone, they would always take her to the office with them.
Sadly, Karma passed away over a year ago. The Garretts missed having a dog in the clinic and knew that their patients did, too. So, they contacted Muttville and asked for a dog who had the same qualities as Karma: tiny, calm, and cuddly. Kismet fitted all these, and they adopted her in August.
Aside from helping patients feel calm while they’re on the dental seat, Debra says having the dog around also makes her and Dr. Garrett look forward to going to the office every day.
“Kismet is such a delight. She is the sweetest little thing,” Debra told CNN. “She makes me so happy. It brings us joy to be working on a patient and see her with us. It makes it nicer for us going to work, too.”
Dogs play many important roles in our lives, and this small pup doing big things for her owners and their patients is a perfect example!
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