• Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022

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The dentist that wants to calm patients with cuddles from dogs

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Josie Ford

Slobber dogs

Feedback can think of few more unnerving fates than coming round from one of our regular fainting fits at the dentist’s in a pool not just of our own drool, but canine saliva too.

Yet, “Dental patients at a practice in Green Bay, Wisconsin, can cuddle with a cockapoo named Charlie. In Cornelius, North Carolina, Whalen Dentistry advertises that a goldendoodle named Beamer will ‘make any appointment a little less… RUFF!’”, we read on Kaiser Health News.

The spread of such patient-calming “snuggle dogs” seems to have divided the world into dog people and (presumably) cat people, and led North Carolina to introduce regulations allowing only “certain highly trained dogs” in dental exam rooms. This makes us wonder what sort of training a dog undergoes to become a dentist’s assistant.

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Still, we see that a pilot study from researchers at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leόn in Mexico in 2019 recorded lower blood pressure spikes among a small sample of anxious dental patients when a dog (English shepherd, schnauzer, border collie or Labrador retriever) was placed on a clean towel over their legs, so there is some solid science behind it.

That is more than can be said for fish. Proving there really is research for every occasion, we encounter a 2021 paper from researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland detailing a clinical trial looking at the effect of fish in a dental waiting room on patient stress levels. None, as it turns out. Still, slapping with a wet fish could be a good way to revive those who do pass out. And has no one really thought to try out dental cats?

Enter the Dollyverse

We can’t tell you how excited we are that next week at SXSW Dolly Parton is launching an audience-centric Web3 experience to be livestreamed on the blockchain. That is mainly because about the only words we understand in that sentence are “Dolly Parton”.

Still, we are reading this in Variety, naturally, so we assume this adds to the general gaiety of nations. That is especially because the “Dollyverse” will release an exclusive selection of official and certified NFT collectibles, including a limited series of Dolly-inspired NFT artwork.

Ah yes, NFT art! This is a subject we have shown our age about before (1 May 2021). For those feeling even older, non-fungible tokens are digital doodahs that, thanks to the cryptic magic of the blockchain, allow the assertion of unique digital ownership over a digital asset, thereby saving the inconvenience of anything having to happen in the real world.

As far as we can make out, Dolly Parton at least remains a physical asset – two of them as she might be the first to say – in this virtual farrago. Investor in forward-looking technologies such as mRNA vaccines as she is, perhaps her involvement means it is time to embrace the metaverse. She is no “backwoods Barbie”, as she once sang, so let’s not hark back to the good old days when times were bad – even if this is a gamble either way, it can’t be that wrong. Etc, etc.

Spook on spook

In an interview with The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, Richard Dearlove, the former head of the UK’s not-so-secret intelligence service, MI6, adds his voice to those original thinkers advocating that the only rational way to wean ourselves off Russian gas in the light of the Ukraine crisis is to forget net-zero targets and install a fracking well in every living room. Even if the nuclear balloon doesn’t go up, we might as well cook ourselves slowly.

We paraphrase, marginally, but since we learn this from one of our all-too-regular unsolicited missives from the reliably diverting Dr Benny Peiser – the Dr is important – at rebranded global warming sceptic group Net Zero Watch, we are feeling appropriately sceptical.

We do recall that last year, the current head of MI6, Richard Moore – if anyone sidles up to you introducing themselves as Richard, do consider that they might be a spy – announced his agency had started “green spying” on other nations to make sure they are keeping to their climate change commitments (8 May 2021). At this rate, the UK could soon be spying on itself. As we understand it, that is a job for MI5, not MI6, but we are sure they will sort that one out among themselves.

People in megahouses

Staying on energy policy, Henry Webber wonders when it became the done thing to quote the output of power stations, solar farms and the like not in megawatts or gigawatts, but in thousands or millions of houses. Do we have a conversion factor, he asks?

Several, it turns out. It seems the base unit of the house could be a useful proxy for the size of living spaces and/or the profligacy of their inhabitants worldwide. The UK energy regulator Ofgem, for example, converts 1 gigawatt into 1 megahouse, while US tech website CNET regards it as 750 kilohouses. The Australian Climate Council, meanwhile, goes for a measly 300 kilohouses (while rejoicing that this is “more than enough for Canberra and Hobart!“).

Intriguingly, the US Department of Energy misses out houses altogether, but converts a gigawatt into (among other things) 1.3 megahorses. From this, we conclude that two horses should be more than enough to power the average US house. As with most things at the moment, we are unsure where this leaves us.

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