By Sam Elliott
Birdfeeders and a wildlife-welcoming garden area has been a mainstay of My Dental Care’s reputation since Dr. Cynthia Becker started her first practice in Fishers in 1984.
“At our old office — about three-tenths of a mile north on Allisonville, it was an old farm house about 150 years old — we had three rooms and one of them had a bay window with one birdfeeder outside it,” Becker said. “Everybody wanted to sit in that room. They’d say, ‘I want the room with the window.’ Nobody wanted the rooms that were in the middle of the office. So when we built the new office, I said every room was going to have a window.”
My Dental Care’s current location at 9905 Allisonville Rd. doesn’t just have large bay windows in each if its exam rooms — it also has a newly official National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat patients can observe from their chairs as they’re receiving dental work.
“We’ve been here since 1990, so it’s been about a 26-year project,” Becker said. “After they finished construction here, there was no topsoil left. It was all clay and it was about 95 degrees in August and we were out here with a pickaxe and shovel to get a little kidney bean-shaped garden you could see from the middle three rooms. Then we just kept increasing the size over the years.”
My Dental Care’s Certified Wildlife Habitat has grown to include approximately more than 40 birdfeeders of varying styles — “They keep changing because the raccoons like to unhook them and take them away,” Becker said — a flowing fountain, birdbath, fruit-bearing trees, native flowers, plants and trees and a path that runs the length of the habitat along the east side of the building.
“We are so excited to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat,” National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski said. “Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods. Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony or a 10-acre farm, a schoolyard or a business park or anything in between everyone can create a home for local wildlife. Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife.”
Becker and her staff and patients have identified nearly 50 different species of birds through observation of the wildlife habitat, which also has become a popular draw for three species of squirrels, raccoons, possums, groundhogs, minks, rabbits and even an occasional deer, fox or coyote.
The wildlife habitat received some new neighbors, too, in the form of a pair of red-shouldered hawks that moved in and built a nest in a large sycamore tree between the wildlife habitat and creek bed behind the My Dental Care office in March. A trio of chicks hatched approximately two to three months ago and are still living in the nest, easily viewable from the My Dental Care back parking lot.
“We were having trouble before with bird hawks coming in and taking birds from our feeding stations. Now these guys moved in and they are our new bouncers,” Becker said. “They chase away the bird hawks. We’ve had a wider variety of birds this year and very few attacks on the birds. They also keep our chipmunk population in control.”
Recipe For Relaxation
In addition to being a haven for food and shelter for area birds and other animals, the wildlife habitat at My Dental Care offers comfort to staff and visitors as well.
“I’m an outside person, and this kind of brings the outdoors in for me,” My Dental Care owner Dr. Cynthia Becker said. “I have a really nice working environment and my staff really loves it. It makes our environment a lot better and the patients love it. We have patients that come here just for this. They really like coming and watching the birds. It’s very relaxing, and a dentist visit isn’t always exactly what you’d call a relaxing activity.”
Becker knows plenty of individuals dread trips to the dentist, or can feel claustrophobic once inside an exam room with hygienists and doctors needing to work up close and personal, but the exam rooms’ big bay windows help patients feel less stressed for their visit.
“When you come in here for dental work, people kind of forget that they’ve been here for an hour or however long it takes for their cleaning,” Becker said. (The wildlife habitat) makes the time pass faster and everybody stays more relaxed.”
The outdoor wildlife viewing is just one tool the My Dental Care staff utilizes to help patients feel calmer and comfortable during visits.
“We take comfort to extremes here,” Becker said. “We have paraffin dips for people’s hands kind of like they’re going to a spa, we have little massage pads we can have on the chairs and knee pillows and neck pillows, we’ve got movies for people to watch or they can bring their own and we can pop it into the DVD player.”