September 28, 2011

How the Aviary Came to Be

A dental office with an aviary? You may be thinking, “How different”, but most of our patients say, “How relaxing.”

The reason why we have an aviary at our office is a long story that I have frequently told to my patients when they ask me who thought of putting an aviary here in the first place.  The story begins back in the mid 1990’s when we were still in our old office building before we rebuilt at the same location.  I had bought the practice (then called Lee Dental Care) in 1989, but did not purchase the building/property until 1994.  The old building was a model home converted into a dental practice.  The reception room was the garage and the backyard still had a pool with a screen enclosure.  We had 6 operatories with three looking out over the pool and down a sailboat access saltwater canal and the other three rooms had no such view at all. Instead, two of them had a tiny little slit of a window and the third had none.  After discussing the problem with a general contractor, whose wife just happened to be a front desk receptionist, I decided to cut open the walls in those three operatories and place large picture windows in their stead.  Wow, what a difference it made!  The whole back office filled up with light.  Although the windows looked great, the view was not.  Looking out the windows you could see Cornwallis Parkway, and siting right next to the window was my Nd:YAG laser waiting for a smash and grab event. Back in 1973, when the model home was built, it was customary to place low walls in front of the house for decoration.  This house still had those walls and it gave me an idea to extend those walls to close off the north side of the building to make an aviary.  In the middle of the aviary I placed a double sided waterfall with a fish pond so the birds could take baths.  It was an immediate success!  Everyone loved it, and I will have to admit, I liked it too.  I liked it so much that when we were designing this new office I told the architect to place it in our new plans.  The funny part of this story involves my wife, Nita, who is also my office manager.  You see, the old aviary was not very vermin proof and we constantly had problems with snakes and rats invading the cage and reeking havoc on the poor little birds living there.  She disliked this immensely and told the architect she did not want to have this problem at our new office in spite of my assurances that the new one would be built to withstand those invaders.  Meanwhile, our old office was demolished to make room for the new one, and we moved into a temporary office a few blocks away that I now refer to as purgatory.  As soon as the old office was gone we began to receive calls  inquiring about the birds.  Sometimes we would get 3-4 calls per day asking what we did with the birds.  This went on for an entire recall cycle of 6 months.  Practically every patient sitting in my chair asked about the birds, or told me how much they missed the birds.   When it came time for us to fly out to Austin, Texas to review the final drawings for the building, the architect winked at my wife and said, “Now, what about that aviary?”  He actually didn’t place it into the final drawings because he figured that if the wife didn’t want the aviary, there wasn’t going to be any aviary.  Boy, was he surprised when my wife leaned forward in her chair, slammed her fist onto the table and exclaimed with no uncertain term, “We have got to have that aviary!”  The look on that architects face was priceless.
Below are pictures of our original aviary in the old office.