Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nails and eyeballs

OK, there’s a couple things on my list today. One’s a bit of a rant.

Has everyone heard the story of Gooch the pit bull who died while having his nails trimmed? My co-worker, Jerry Wolffe, broke this story over the weekend (read the first story by clicking here) and wrote a follow-up today (click here).
Let’s make one thing clear — no dog should ever have to die because it needs it’s nails clipped.
A necropsy of the dog showed it died of suffocation and internal injuries. The woman clipping the dog’s nails apparently used a prong collar, a secondary collar and then a third leash wrapped around the dog’s muzzle to tie its mouth shut. She and a man then sat on the dog, I assume to keep the dog still, while they trimmed the nails.
Bad idea — they wanted the dog to be still for a while, but they made it still forever. Just squished the life right out of it.
One of two things prompted such extreme measures to be taken for a nail clipping: 1) The dog was so strong, unruly and opposed to the nail trimming that it was extremely difficult to get the dog to settle down, or 2) The people performing the nail trim stereotyped the dog because it was a pit bull and took unnecessary and dangerous measures because of it.
I wasn’t there and I don’t know which it was. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Either way, the dog should not have died.
I was reading through the comments people left under the first story and came across one from a woman who basically said it was the pit bull’s fault because it was a pit bull and all pit bulls behave this way for nail trims and that’s why they should just be banned from everywhere.
What a load of crap.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a series of blog posts on nail trims. In one of them, you’ll get to see for yourself how at least one pit bull — mine — behaves during a nail clipping. And trust me, when you see my dog get his nails clipped, you’ll be asking yourself how you can get your dog to be so good and calm. And I’ll tell you how.
For now, I’ll leave you with this: Touch your dog’s paws often and from an early age. I’ll expound more on this in later posts.

My coworker, Political Reporter Charlie Crumm, and I often trade stories about our dogs. He has Tyson, an perpetually healthy, 12-year-old mix between a Boxer, German Shepherd and Chow Chow.
He tells me how healthy and youthful his dog is after I lament about how unhealthy and old my dog (who happens to be years younger than Tyson) is.
Except for yesterday, when he called to say he’d be late to work because Tyson needed to go to the vet.
Charlie said it looked like Tyson maybe got poked in the eye with a stick, perhaps while chasing a squirrel up a tree, and the eye was looking infected. And it wasn’t getting better.
He wound up being recommended to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, where a specialist could really determine what was going on.
The news appears to be this: Tyson, despite his youthful looks, is indeed getting old. And with age you’re just bound to stumble across some health issues.
It looks like Tyson’s eyes just aren’t producing tears the way they used to, meaning his eyes are drying out and getting very itchy. The dog doesn’t understand, of course, that scratching his eyes only worsens the issue.
To keep those paws away, he’ll be wearing the Elizabethan collar for at least a week.
If it’s not a dry eye problem, it’s something worse. But since the eye is responding to treatment after just one day, my money’s on it being a dry eye problem.
This will mean Charlie will have to give the dog eyedrops daily for the rest of his life, but it’s better than the alternative — having his eye removed due to some other issue, like a damaged cornea or even cancer.
Charlie said Tyson is doing increasingly better with the eyedrops. In fact, after a bout of trying to scratch his eye last night (and instead making a racket while his paws hit the hard plastic of the collar), Charlie said the eyedrops seemed to calm him down.
“I think he knows that, ‘Hey, this stuff makes my eyes feel better,’” Charlie said.
I bet that’s true.


  1. Nail trimming can be a challenge. But like all the things we must do for and to our dogs we don't have to muscle them to get them to cooperate. I'm looking forward to your tips on nail trimming, Karen.

    The people who killed that Pit Bull clipping his nails are ignorant bullies.

  2. Thanks Lynn!

    I agree; most dog owners I know struggle with nail trimming. Muscling a dog usually just makes things worse.

    I appreciate everyone's patience while I put together some posts on tips and shoot video of a nail trim in action. I'll start with some general tips later this week!

  3. Many or most dogs of any breed don't like their paws touched, from my experience with a few of them. The advice to touch their paws harmlessly, a lot, from an early age sounds good.