Mammal Mondays: Nail Clipping Karma

A note to all my regular readers: I have been struggling with my hands the last few weeks far more than usual. I am experiencing a serious flare of carpal tunnel and tendonitis symptoms, which is both painful and frustrating, not to mention scary because I worry this is a sign of things to come. With my hands raging during the busiest time of the school year, I’ve been choosing to save them for work and admittedly have been ignoring my blog. I do miss my readers and I hope things improve once summer arrives. Otherwise, we are all fine here in the dollhouse, so there is no need for concern.

If The Electrician and I are earning serious brownie points with the universe for fostering Miss Charlie, our karma is through the roof after yesterday’s exploits.

My dear and longtime friend texted me to ask if I could help her clip her dogs’ toenails. I’ve stopped clipping Sherman’s nails because they’re very robust and my hands can’t handle the squeezing right now; he gets them done every third week at daycare and it’s working well for us. The two dogs my friend needed help with, however, total a whopping 25 pounds together, so I didn’t think cutting their talons would be too big an obstacle.

I didn’t think to take any photos during yesterday’s rodeo, but just that description tells you how well it went. Trimming the toenails of two small dogs should have been a minor task, but it was far more work than any of us anticipated. Toby and Mishu are both Shihtzu mixes. Mishu can’t go to a groomer because her rabies vaccine is expired but the vet says it would be risking her life to revaccinate her at her advanced age.

My friend has given up doing her dogs’ claws herself because, according to her, they “freak out” and the task is impossible. We are a foster home for dogs who have often had little positive human contact, so I didn’t think it would be too big a deal to perform a couple of pooch pedicures.

This same friend once brought me a little dog she was fostering that refused to go for  walk, hoping my no-nonsense approach might encourage her to get a little exercise. Perhaps I’m a crusty old woman before my time, but I took that dog for a walk despite her protests: two blocks in she dropped a six pound turd; she was good as new and walked eagerly thereafter. Sometimes dogs just need to work stuff through, literally.

I started with Toby, sitting on the floor and tucking him firmly into my left armpit like I imagine I would with a football, if I had the inclination to actually pick up a football. Picture this: long, Dr. Seuss toe hair (on the dog, not me) plus overly-long black claws plus wriggling, peeved little dog. It was the kind of situation where a person cuts conservatively and prays she doesn’t draw blood. To my surprise, Toby struggled minimally after a few snips–I think he knows auntie means business and is immune to his attempts to earn my sympathy. It’s a teacher thing: objective action to get the job done in a tense scenario. Thankfully, the shrieking and screaming my friend described when she attempts to cut Toby’s nails did not occur. My football grip may have helped.

Mishu was a completely different story. The poor little girl is fourteen going on seventy, and she lived most of her life with less-than-ideal nutrition and health care before winning the doggy lottery and moving in my friend and her family. She has extra-long toe hair and utterly refuses both haircuts and nail trims, except by occasional luck involving prayer and peanut butter. Along with vocalizing her disgust at the incredible indignity of being groomed, Mishu tends to writhe like she’s covered in fire ants during the process. She also tends to bite, apparently.

Wrestling a geriatric shih tzu who would not hesitate to sink her remaining handful of teeth into me wasn’t exactly on my Sunday to-do list, but we’re all about good deeds around here, especially those that help friends, animals, or both. I will mention, though, that I wasn’t aware of Mishu’s tendency toward chomping the would-be groomer until after she was tucked into my armpit.

Picture the scene. After the first snap at me, only two nails in, we muzzled Mishu with some gauze. The poor little thing was pathetic, but her eyes burned hellfire and rage through their cataracts. Then she managed to claw off the gauze, tear a couple bleeding stripes into my calf with a velociraptor kick, and snap at me again. Because the hair on her feet is so long and she fought me too hard to allow me to safely cut her claws, my friend held her while I clipped. When the two of us, both grown women, failed to hold her still enough (because it’s hard when one person has to hold her tiny jaws shut) we had to call The Electrician into action.

I should also mention that Mishu is the proud owner of what my friend has dubbed “death breath.” Mishu could clear a room with her halitosis, and there we were, breathing nothing but.

On what planet should it require three adults to clip the toenails of a dog who weighs approximately nine pounds? Technically, we were each managing three pounds of itty bitty dog, and barely getting the job done. I have never been actually afraid of being bitten by a dog before, and I never anticipated my first true bite worry as the result of a little old lady of a canine. I don’t blame Mishu, who is getting rather senile and was never really exposed to proper grooming in her younger years. I also was not about to give up and reinforce to her that snarking is the way to get what she wants. Regardless, it was a process that was far, far more difficult than I anticipated.

Please note, the only injured party of this adventure was me. I have a lovely scratch on my wrist and two on my calf that needed peroxide and a little cussing, but the dogs were completely unscathed except for their pride. As well, both dogs had strange curling under dewclaw toenails that needed clipping before they grew into the pads. Poor things. However difficult, though, mission accomplished and good canine karma acquired.

Something tells me Toby and Mishu won’t want to come visit at the dollhouse any more. I think our relationship may have just taken a hard turn for the worse.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. That sounds like one of my sessions clipping Wonderbutt’s nails. I try to do two paws each week to keep him used to me doing it. But so far that hasn’t helped.

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