Nailed!

Looks like those nails would be easy to clip, but she’s taunting me with this pose.

At a cookout this past weekend, a friend was telling me about an experience at her workplace. Her manager had brought her in to discuss some issues with the details of her work and she said it was hard to listen to it. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to know the information; she just didn’t want to be making mistakes. And since she had only been on the job for a few weeks, she felt it was premature for her manager to be making those judgments.

Yes, it is definitely difficult to accept information that you’d rather not hear. None of us want to do a bad job so when we learn about issues, it feels bad. Yet we need to be open to it. And it will only get worse if it’s not dealt with early.

One important thing about this particular conversation is that the manager had lots of questions instead of lecturing. The manager wanted to understand the process and the logic behind what this person had done and why. That gave them a basis of understanding for the big picture and the ultimate goal, allowing them to work together on solving the problem, constructively and respectfully.

I’m sure we can all think of a situation that felt easier to ignore, hoping it would go away, but it got worse instead. Right after I got Grace, I trimmed her nails successfully. She wasn’t thrilled with the experience, but it got done without too much trauma. The second time I got the clippers out of the drawer, it was a different story. She threw a tantrum, twisting and struggling, pulling her paws from me. And instead of holding firm (literally and figuratively), I acquiesced and stopped the process. Rather than deal with the situation with Grace in a calm, assertive way, I avoided the conflict and therefore allowed nail clipping to expand to this major ordeal – for her and for me – and we’re still dealing with it. Since that incident, I have never been able to get her to allow me to trim her nails. I’m so envious when my husband pulls squirming cats into his lap, lulling them into compliance for nail time. They don’t like it any more than Grace does, but they understand the expectations and abide by them. (And given that we’re now talking about cats, well, that’s quite an accomplishment!)

I know if I had continued to address the issue with Grace that night, we would have worked it out, and I’d be saving myself an office visit to the vet every other month, where they hold and muzzle her for a relatively simple undertaking. It’s a reminder that even the most effortless situations can become onerous is you let them.

Working through problems early on will prevent minor issues from becoming major ones. Don’t get nailed like I did.

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17 comments

  1. didiwright says:

    I love the title, it’s very intriguing when you first read it, then you read the post and discover that it’s quite clever and very appropriate! I do feel for you, because I know what a big deal this is. George didn’t liked his nails being trimmed when he was a puppy, and he still doesn’t like it at present, but he’s learnt to let me do it. In retrospective and in light of your experience, I’m happy that I persevered during those first months, but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes it would take me a whole week to trim all of his nails, but eventually we got to the point when he just lies these and lets me do it. He will sometimes play up and turn upside down like Grace in your photo (which is very cute, by the way), or try to bite the trimmer, but he gives up in the end because he knows I won’t. Not on this one, anyway.
    I’m wondering if it’s really too late, or you could gradually train Grace to let you trim her nails? Maybe if you start with just one nail and then reward her with a treat for being a good girl, and build on that? It worked with George…

  2. Thanks, Didi, for all the feedback. You gentle nudge has made me wonder about giving it a try again. It will take some courage on my part …. but certainly better late than never, right? You feel like a close friend to me! Thank you.

  3. didiwright says:

    Thank you for regarding me as your friend. I feel the same way about you 🙂 And here’s to the first nail Grace will let you trim!

    P.S. What kind of nail clipper did you try to use? I find the guillotine type the easiest to use.

  4. candace says:

    Timely blog, Robin. We are having a tough time with Vivian’s sleeping right now and it would be so easy to pick her up when she’s crying. You’ve given me the reminder that we need to stick to it and all will work out for the better. Love you!

    • That precious baby doesn’t want to miss anything while napping! I would have a hard time saying no to her, too. I know she’s in good hands. Thanks for being such a loyal reader! That makes me and Grace very happy.

  5. You can do it. Didi made a really good point. It doesnt have to be done all at the same time. Sounds like you might need to keep that trimmer handy so you can sneak it when ever Grace is being calm. It may help to give her ‘foot lovies’ petting her legs and toes to get her used to handling in those areas.

    And, I don’t know would it help if you let grace watch the procedure being done to the kitties? I think this helps Twiggy who is very afraid, when he sees the others go before him with out a problem.

    • didiwright says:

      That’s very good advice. Watching the procedure being done to other pets should help, and so should desensitisation of her feet. George used to pull his feet away as soon as I touched them, even if I didn’t have the trimmer at hand. I think it was a reflex reaction, like if he was ticklish or something like that. Constant touching of his feet helped with this (and made it easier for me to wipe his feet after a muddy walk!).

    • Grace runs out of the room even when the tiny little clippers surface for the cats. I never thought of holding her back to watch! Great idea. (I was just having a conversation with a woman at lunch about how it helps a dog to watch other dogs at agility — this is the same concept — we all learn by watching others — great advice, Sara!). I do rub her paws occasionally but I’m sure not enough. Thanks to you both for your encouragement.

  6. Anna says:

    great post. Nails are my LEAST favorite chore with Luna.. and it is a chore. She has had her nails dremeled since she was 4 weeks old. But to this day she still hates it, and I have been the only one to do it since I brought her home. I hate to see her have long nails (which would still be short by most people’s standards but are pushing it IMO by show standards) but I dread the chore. It can take us anywhere from 10 minutes to over a half hour if she is being bad. I know a lot of it comes from fear, though I don’t know why as it’s something she has been exposed to almost weekly since a puppy. And with the dremel it is really hard to seriously quick a dog as opposed to with clippers. And even still it has never been more than a 1 person job for Luna, as opposed to some Vizslas who I hear require 3 people.
    I have trimmed many many dogs nails, and it is a lot easier to give advice when I can source where the problem is coming from. Most times it is a touch of mistrust, but usually a lot of “I simply don’t feel like you doing that so I will throw a fit”. So as you stated, if people just stick it out in a calm assertive fashion many dogs would get over it, or at least tolerate it as Luna does. And even when she is trying to call the shots about it, at the end of it all I make her stay on the couch until she relaxes, before i release her to get down so I can get the last word on her “fear”
    One trick I found that has helped Luna is the position she is in during the procedure. I have stopped putting her on her back on the couch and now allow her to either lay on her belly or side, and it has made her more comfortable and easier to work with. But a lot of it does have to do with you simply taking it slow but not being a push over, and getting her to trust you. Somtimes that means single nails, sometimes feet, or for some dogs just getting through all 4 to show them it’s not a big deal works. But even if you start with just one nail, do not end on her fighting you about it. Wait her out, wait till she relaxes before you release her to get up.
    Hopefully with all the advice everyone has given you, you will attempt it again. I still much rather trim my own dogs nails than trust others with them.
    Good Luck, and great post
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

    • @Anna hello, 🙂 I was wondering, is using a Dremel common for show dogs? Last year I tried using a variable speed Dremel on my own nails.I figured it would be a cool way to buff them. But I found out how super uncomfortable the effect was. It made a vibration buzz that traveled right into the bones of my fingers and felt too wierd so I never did it again.

      Thats why your comment intrigues me. Ive never heard of anyone besides myself trying this idea before. 🙂

      • didiwright says:

        I know a few whippet owners who use a dremel and swear by it. I also know people who have tried to use it and hated it. I’ve never been in the position to even consider it, since the guillotine clipper suits us perfectly. I would, though, be interested in Anna’s response, too, since she’s far more experienced with dogs and dog-trimming than I am 🙂

    • Hi Anna. This is great advice for helping ease the fear with Grace’s nail. I appreciate you taking the time to offer them. It’s certainly much productive to help support someone through their fear and you have such good options. I am building some courage for this based on everyone’s help. Thank you so much.

  7. spiderpaw says:

    Nice post Robin. As for me being a business owner, I like to confront any issues with my new workers within the first week. As you said, I usually just ask questions and let them know how things are done within the company. This usually lets them know how to use their own skills to fit my needs and this way I can see if they have true talent or just wasting my time. As for Grace, she is such a cutie and I’m sure she uses this to her advantage. Just remember, that she even though she is fearful, I am sure she trusts you and the more you try the more she will realize that mom knows what she’s doing. Good luck Robin.

    • Thanks, Lionel; sounds like you have a great process in place for addressing issues early on. Good for you. And very much appreciate the words of wisdom and support for moving forward with Grace’s nails! She is a little cutie and I love the way you accurately acknowledged how she uses that to her advantage. 🙂

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