It looked disgusting. It was disgusting. A little plastic specimen jar with a yellow top and containing eight tiny teeth. Two of which were tiny decayed teeth.
I hadn't seen anything quite as disgusting since Russell Robinson brought his severed and shriveled middle finger to school in a phial of formalin. The finger had been removed from Russell by the blade of a motor mower.
And when the doctors couldn't re-attach they asked whether he wanted to take the severed digit home. Even in a state of shock the wily Robinson saw the entertainment value in a pickled finger and said ‘Yes'.
Amongst us 10-year-old impressionable boys, it had the impact of Tom Sawyer's dead rat on a string. But Russell's finger was real. Dead but real and we were as enthralled by the finger as were envious of Russell. It's why I can remember Russell's name 50 years later.
Anyhow teeth, tiny white rotten teeth.
They'd recently been extracted from the mouth of Mia – the white fluffball of a choodle that recently drove the Saunders family of Tauranga to the brink when she went missing. You will remember Mia's escapades in The Weekend Sun a couple of weeks ago.
The amiable and carefree Chihuahua poodle half-bred just disappeared from home late one afternoon and didn't come home. Mama Mia! There were pamphlet drops, messages were posted, highways and byways were combed and then combed again. Tears were shed, sleepless nights endured, emotions were raw.
And my colleague Cayla, Mia's other half, who is normally a stoic, strong and unshakeable kind of person bled emotionally. For days. I was tempted to say: ‘It's only a dog' but I'm sure it would have tipped her over the edge.
We know the outcome. Mia had been picked up from the roadside and taken over the Kaimai Range to Morrinsville. But Mia's home in Pyes Pa now and Cayla is still talking to me.
But the story didn't end there. Nor did the expense.
Because a reward had been offered. Of $200. And yes, Mia's finders would gratefully accept the bounty. Ka-ching! But Mia wasn't quite the same when she got home. Being briefly orphaned had unsettled her metabolism, she was a bit of off-colour, a bit clingy and so off to the vet. Cayla was thinking a pat and a couple of pills and Mia would be right.
Instead the vet provided her a checklist of services for pre-approval. It was the sort of list you would expect if you took a 1970s car for a Warrant of Fitness. And at $600-plus please Mia. Ka-ching, ka-ching!
That's when the eight teeth had to come out. And Mia went from an adventurous expensive designer dog, the fluffball, the poochi, the choodle, the wapoo, the chipoodle to toothless crone.
And the bounty and vets bill didn't curb her adventures. The phone went in the office this week. It was the café nearby Cayla's Mum's workplace. Mia was sitting in the middle of the café kitchen wanting food. Preferably something that a dog with only half a dozen teeth could chew. Smoked salmon might be nice. The café, understandably, was not impressed.
“Come and get your dog, pul-lease!”
And by night Mia is demanding space under the duvet. And getting it. “Because she is not quite the same, she's a little clingy after everything that's happened.” The tribulations of being a caring, loving dog owner.
Despite all the angst she caused, despite all the expense, despite her incorrigibility this two handfuls of dog still rules, is still at home and is still much loved.
And I hope Russell Robinson traded on his missing digit. “No I don't have a PhD or a trade certificate but I have a severed middle finger in a phial.” He should have made it to any boardroom on the back of that.