The Sunday Edition

For nervous patients, a friendly dachshund takes the stress out of dentistry

A Toronto dentist has a secret weapon in her quest to soothe her patients: a friendly dog named Moishie who will happily snuggle for the duration of a procedure.
Dentist Ginny Eidinger and her secret weapon for soothing nervous patients: her long-haired dachshund, Moishie. (Cate Cochran/CBC)

Originally published on May 12, 2019.

In a dentist's chair in a north Toronto office, nine-year-old Chloe Beresford sat shaking.

She had lost a part of her gums in a botched attempt to pull a tooth, and now, feeling traumatized, she was waiting for a new dentist — Dr. Ginny Eidinger — to fix it.

"When I sat down there I was really scared," she said. "And then they called Moishie."

The long-haired dachshund trotted into the room and took up his usual post — on the lap of patients about to undergo procedures at Eidinger's practice.

The warm weight of the dog had an immediate effect.

"It was really calming and it made it so much better," said Beresford.

Most patients who arrive at Eidinger's office are terrified of what's to come. As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, she deals with complicated and challenging cases.

Enter her dog, Moishie, who began accompanying her to work out of necessity when her dog walker fell through.

Quickly, she noticed that Moishie's affable, sleepy presence had an amazing effect on her patients.

"Having him here, it's an emotional ice breaker," she said. "He really, really helps patients process the anxiety."

Chloe Beresford, 9, in Eidinger's chair - with Moishie in position on her legs. (Cate Cochran/CBC)

Moishie, she explained, can tell when someone is extremely nervous.

"He tucks into the patient more deeply," she said. "It's almost like he says to this patient: 'I understand. It's terrible, but I'm with you.'"

Sue Cork suffers from what she describes as "English teeth": "weak, bad teeth that rot on a regular basis."

"I'm not a good patient, and I'm also a cat person," she said.

But Moishie's charms — and his ability to sleep solidly for the duration of a lengthy dental procedure — have won over Cork as well.

"He has terribly bad breath, that's the only issue," she said with a laugh. "But I'm in love with him now."

Click 'listen' above to hear the full documentary, produced by Cate Cochran.