This probably all sounds absurd to most, maybe all of you and you’re probably thinking I need more excitement in my life but this is a HUGE deal for us.
The last time we had Oscar at the vet, there were three vet techs and the vet trying to cut his nails. They got about three of them done and the vet said “You’re going to bring him back. We’ll give you meds to give him before you leave home and he will pretty much be out of it by the time you get him here. Otherwise, he is going to hurt himself.” I had given him a Benadryl before we left home but that didn’t seem to do much.
I came home and said “NO!” This is not how we’re going to live the next 15 years or so with Oscar. I had always messed with his feet since he was a puppy and had tried to cut his nails but never could. I can massage his feet, put my finger between his toes, pick at his nails but try cutting them and . . someone is going to end up bleeding or worse.
I had always used one of the electric grinders with all my dogs but Oscar was terrified of it. I thought it was the noise so I ordered another one that said “ultra quiet”. Nope . . same reaction. I ordered this nail cutter about 14 months ago. Again, he was fine with me messing with his feet, toes and nails, til he saw the nail cutter. Fine . . I’ll wrap him up in the blanket, cover his head (which is how he sleeps), wait til I think he’s asleep or at least very relaxed, mess with his feet, then get out the nail cutter and try to cut a nail. No! He was in a panic as soon as he realized what was about to happen. I tried Benadryl. I had Vince hold him, with a muzzle (Oscar, not Vince though at times, I wished they both had muzzles). Vince was sure we were going to kill him because he has some crazy moves when trying to escape the torture (Oscar – not Vince!).
Vince said “We’re going to have to let the vet sedate him. NO! That is no way to care for a dog.
Every single day for over a year, I have used that nail cutter to tap on his nails. Once we’re finished with our “therapy” session, I put a treat on the nail clipper and after a week or so, he would eat the treat off the nail clipper.
We finally got to where, if I unlatched the nail cutter in another room and Oscar didn’t hear it and didn’t see it, if I waited til he was very sleepy and tired, I could cut one nail . . but not without a fight and by fight, I mean I was usually bleeding.
He wears his back nails down on the concrete outside so, thankfully, it’s just the front nails I have to cut.
Last night, he was tired and ready for bed. I cut one nail and then he was in a position where I could reach a nail on his right foot that I haven’t been able to reach. I cut it. TWO nails in one night. Breakthrough! I was so happy. I praise him . . way beyond what is reasonable, and I give him a treat after each nail is cut — remember, I only try to do one each night.
I still had not gotten brave enough to cut the dew claws. With me holding him, holding his foot so he can’t jerk it and trying to cut the nails, I kept avoiding those dew claws. Today . . broad, open daylight; he wasn’t sleepy but he was laying in a position where I could get to one of the dew claws. I got the cutters. They weren’t unlatched and even thought I tried to be quiet, he heard it but he just looked at me. Didn’t try to run, didn’t show his teeth, didn’t growl. I reached down, picked up his paw and cut that nail . . no fight at all.
My plan is to trim some portion of each nail every single day. I don’t want to have to consistently do more than one nail at a time and I don’t want to wait long periods between nail trims. Even with Cooper, I usually trim just a tad off one nail every night so he never decides it’s scary.
I am so proud of Oscar! This is a huge accomplishment for him and for me because it would have been so easy to give up, give him the meds and let the vet do it every few months. I knew if I didn’t give up, we could beat this.
I’m also thinking that if I can get his appointments for his annual visit first thing in the morning and we don’t have to wait, he won’t get so worked up. We’ve sometimes had to wait over an hour at the vet’s office and with other dogs coming in, some are as upset as Oscar is, I can see how it’s a scary place for him. Also, if they can give him his shots and not have to trim his nails, that may work better too. He always wears a muzzle because he will bite. I am not going to put a muzzle on him at home so he gets used to that . . I’ll have to check with the vet and see if he is willing to try the first appointment of the morning thing without meds but that may work . . walk in, get it done and leave.