Friday, October 28, 2016

The Clipping of the Toe Nails

Should I suddenly and mysteriously die, the coroner tasked with figuring out why would wonder about all the scratches and gashes and bruises and punctures on my body and probably formulate a theory about ritualistic torture.  S/he’d be wrong… but circumstantial evidence would certainly point toward that being a viable theory.  The dog’s nails are even longer now than when I last asked the vet to clip them during a visit and he declined saying they’d wear down naturally as the boys were outside running around more over the summer.  That may be a perfectly true statement if they went out on a paved surface.  I can see how concrete would act as a kind of rasp and keep their nails down to a reasonable length.  But they are on grass.  And grass doesn’t make much of a file.  And their nails are now very long and very sharp!  They’ve pretty much become deadly weapons… And I am getting badly abused as we play and snuggle and jostle for sleeping position.

“Ouch!!” and “Owe baby… your wicked talons are ripping my flesh open so my guts will spill out and I will die and THEN who will feed you and drive you places?” have become way too frequent and dramatic exclamations around here.  Reaching for something to wipe up a trickle of blood as it runs down my leg has also become way too frequent of an occurrence.  And the amount of peroxide I buy to get blood stains out of my clothes is starting to garner me suspicious glances! I have the scars to back up one whale of a tall tale should I ever want to tell one!

It was time for me to get over this little fear and clip their nails myself.

I found this picture on Pinterest but the link leads to a dead blog...
leaving me with a really good illustration but no one to credit for its
creation.  Anonymous Wise Person, thank you!
So I went through all the preparations.  I studied up on clippers and techniques and safety precautions.  I gathered my tools.  I steeled my resolve.  And I wrangled Jack into position.

And clip.  Clip, clip, clip. One paw done.  He didn't pull away at all.  He just sat there, leaned down to sniff the clipper once, and watched me clip away.  The other 3 feet were done the same way.  His ONLY reaction was the expression on his face that said "Jack don't give a [insert your your favorite inflammatory exclamation here]!"  Lightning was curious about the sound and thought the little clipped ends that went flying would make a good snack.  He was probably also jealous that Jack was the center of my attention for those few minutes... the jealousy is strong between those two!  He tried to push his way in a couple of times.  My only struggle with clipping Jack's nails was making Lightning wait for his turn.  And then he sat there for me just as patiently.  Gizmo was the only objector... but he's afraid of pretty much everything so that shouldn't be a huge surprise, I guess.  It took a couple of treats, some soothing words, and a little longer but his nails are done, too, without a lot of undue fuss.

Honestly, clipping their toe nails is easier than clipping my own!

All that build up.  All the people telling me it was such a big deal - a difficult and dangerous and odious task better left to veterinarians and groomers who are trained to do it. All that time I spent worried about hurting them, or me!  Why?  I was thinking I would get to impress you mastering a new skill and it just ended up being no big deal.  I feel robbed.  Totally let down and deflated.  (Yes, I'm exaggerating!)  Either I have the most stupendously wonderful dogs in the whole world or this whole nail clipping thing is scam to steal your money!  It's probably that I've got really great dogs!!

There are a couple of things I learned worth passing along, though:
  • Take some time to touch your dogs feet and get them comfortable with their paws being handled.  Don't stick your fingers in between their toes, though.  That's one of those ticklish in an uncomfortable way, and it might get you bit, kind of places for many dogs.
  • Figure out how to identify the "quick."  It's the fleshy bit on the inside where the blood vessel is.  If you cut it, there will be blood.  And pain.  And you'll probably feel even worse about doing it than the dog does!! But it's not the end of the world if you do nick it.
  • Learn the very simple first aid steps to deal with a cut to the quick.  You can get styptic powder from a pet supply (or maybe even a barber? I remember my Dad had a "styptic stic" in his shaving stuff.) or even use baking soda, cornstarch or a quick rub with a clean bar of soap to stop the bleeding.
  • Handle the clippers a bit before you touch the dog with them.  Get used to how they feel in your hands and how the handles and blade move. You'll jump if you get pinched using them and when you jump your dog will jump, too.
  • Be calm.  Talk to your dog is confident soothing tones so they have the cues to relax and be confident you aren't hurting them.  Use treats to reward good behavior.

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