Friday, December 3, 2010

Trimming Bubba's nails WITH VIDEOS

Bubba, an 8-year-old Boxer, belongs to my sister and her husband, Michelle and Craig Dickinson.
Here is his story, and it's one that has a lesson for all:
Michelle uses food to get Bubba in a comfy position on the couch
Bubba was always a rambunctious dog. He'd spend hours on the brick patio, pouncing on a Frisbee or running around, chasing a toy.
All this activity on the bricks kept his nails insanely short. I've never seen shorter nails on a dog, in fact. I was so jealous of Michelle and Craig — they never had to trim his nails and yet, he had the shortest nails in town!
But then, like all dogs do, he got old. He's got arthritis and he doesn't get around so well anymore.
Needless to say, there's no more pouncing on Frisbees or chasing wildly after toys.
And so, after 8 years on this Earth, his nails are growing, and growing, and growing. But the dog had ever seen nail trimmers before. In fact, he wasn't even used to having his paws grasped by human hands.
"Karen, can you bring your nail trimmers on Thanksgiving?" my sister asked me beforehand.
Touching the paws before we got started
"Of course," I said. "We'll get those nails under control."
I have the heavy-duty clippers and brought them with me. Before dinner, I worked on touching his paws and introducing the clippers. He slowly came around to the idea that this was a pretty easy game.
Unfortunately, it doesn't stay easy.
After dinner, we went downstairs — away from the distractions of the little kids — and set about trimming those long nails.
It became apparent quickly that the heavy-duty manual clippers weren't going to work. As you watch those videos, you can see that I get three clips at those monster nails. What you don't see is that each one of those clips is only taking off an angled portion of the nail — i.e., a little off the top, an angled portion from the bottom.
That's because his nails were so thick in diameter that I couldn't actually fit the clippers around the entire nail.
Getting started with the manual trimmers
That, coupled with Bubba's desire to get away from the clippers, made it clear that trimming his nails the manual way was going to take a long time — like, all night.
I wasn't going to leave that night without having that dog's nails trimmed. And so, as often happens in dog training, you have to modify your plan.
The manual trimmers weren't working. We switched to the Dremel.
Craig had a Dremel in his toolbox and I asked him to bring it down. In the end, we got Bubba comfortable on a couch — laying with his head in my sister's lap, where she could keep his attention on treats, and I had good access to his nails by sitting on the floor next to the couch.
It still took about an hour to get all the nails trimmed, but when everything was said and done, about a half-inch or more was taken off each nail.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the vein in Bubba's nails hadn't grown out, meaning I could really pare back those nails, all the way back to their former shortness.
The Dremel tool worked really well. We used the high-powered, plug-in variety, a standard round sanding head, and I got it up to power level 2. The other power levels were just too powerful.
Fair warning, though: using the Dremel makes it a stinky job. It smells like burning nails, because that's pretty much what's going on. I recommend using goggles and a mask for those faint at heart.
The funniest thing, and what I'm sorry I didn't get video of, was how Bubba reacted after the nail trimming was all done. He walked around highstepping, picking up each paw extra high as though he was wearing boots or something. It was really cute.
Close-up view of the nail trim using the Dremel.
Anyhow, the lesson here is this:
Even if your dog doesn't need his nails trimmed because he's like Bubba used to be, running around and wearing them down himself, you should still make an effort to get him used to it.
One day, that dog will get old and you'll have a nail problem, and a dog who has no idea how to handle the situation.
I'm happy that Bubba accepted the process as well as he did — certainly, the turkey and mashed potatoes had a lot to do with it!
Ah, the power of treats!

And now, for the videos!  


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