“My dog ate my false teeth!”
CRUNCH. Crunch. Crunch.
Goodna greyhound trainer Keiron Butler awoke at 3am to hear those sounds and thought it was his beloved prize greyhound Eleazar munching away on some crusty leftover pizza.
But no. Hell no. Five hours later the truth was revealed, and Butler was to stay a toothless old tiger for a lot longer than he was bargaining on.
If Eleazar could have grinned at old 'Butsy' at the key moment in the wee hours of the morning it would have been a toothy one.
Butler tells the tale, as only he can, about why he is now wearing old army-issue dentures that he's super-glued together and not the superbly crafted pearly whites made by dental technician Lenny 'the tooth fairy' Antonio.
It was last Wednesday night. The footy was on. Butler was relaxing with a few ales. It was getting late…
"I was having a few beers and a pizza while I was watching the Super League…Widnes and Halifax I think," Butler recalls as he shares a few schooners with the QT at the Royal Mail.
"I'd finished my beers and was ready to go to sleep. I take my teeth out and usually put them in the cupboard.
"This time I left them on the pizza tray with some leftover pizza.
"About 3 o'clock in the morning I heard the dog - because I have two retired greyhounds that sleep inside - going 'crunch, crunch, crunch'.
"I thought, 'she's got a bit of my pizza but I didn't think it was that crunchy'.
"Next morning I got up to look after my dogs and went to put my teeth in but I couldn't find them."
He looked high and low, but no sign.
"I came back inside when I'd done all my work with the dogs and I found splinters of teeth all over the lounge room floor and the teeth disintegrated into 5000 pieces, with the pizza," he grins.
"So that is how I lost my teeth…my top plate.
"Lenny Antonio, one of the legends of Ipswich I used to train dogs for, made the teeth for me years ago and never charged me.
"He's a retired dental technician they call 'the tooth fairy'. I wish he was still operating. Then he could make me a new set."
As Butler speaks, the QT can see that he has a top plate of dentures in operation.
So how has he got a new set so quick?
"I've got an old set of army (issue) teeth I had about 30 years ago and I've stuck them together with some superglue and I'll use those until I can win a race and get a new set…unless Lenny comes out of retirement," he says.
"I was in the army and used to get my teeth knocked out playing footy and in fights, so they made me a set.
"They were sitting in my cupboard. They'll do for the time being."
The culprit is Eleazar,a retired greyhound that won a motza in her day and who is the mother of 14 pups that the QT did a story on recently.
"She's a real bowerbird. Everything she sees on my table she eats," Butler grins.
"I always leave some pizza there for her and she must have thought my teeth were part of it.
"They are used to eating bones, so they probably tasted like bones."
Butler met good mate Cr Paul Tully on the Thursday about a greyhound club matter. Cr Tully put a picture of the toothless Butler on Facebook with the outline of the story.
Thousands of people had seen it by the time Butler went to have beers with his mates in Redbank's Kerwick Hotel on the Friday.
"I walked in to the Kerwick for beers with the blokes I've known for 50 years and they all had those lolly teeth in their mouths and they were all smiling at me," he says.
"I went up to the barmaid to get a beer and she handed me some lolly teeth to wear.
"I got phone calls from all over, even from a dental technician in Sydney who wants to make me a new set."
When Butler was racing Eleazar in Sydney he'd drive all night to Wentworth Park, race her and drive home the next day.
"And she'd sleep in the car with me wherever I'd pull up," he says..
"I took her to a motel once, and she slept in the motel with me too. She was my travelling companion."
There was no punishment for Eleazar, and there won't be. Tonight she will sleep in her five-star bed as usual. Butler will be snoring. His teeth will be in the cupboard.
When asked how he feels about the saga and what he said to Eleazar about her chow down, Butler gets a wistful look in his eye.
"I can't knock the dog. All she wanted was a piece of my pizza, so I just patted her," he says. "I can't lock her out of the house.
"She has her own lounge suite, as do all my dogs.
"She lives a life of luxury. She's my mate."