Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Adventures in nail trimming

One aspect of Mila Grey’s personality which I often refer to on this blog, but never quite seem to expand on is her penchant for the dramatic. She is the first to let you know when she is experiencing discomfort of any kind, or does not like what you are doing (or about to do) to her. Of course, I can handle all of that – but the problem is, in letting us know how she feels about something Mila tends to have trouble in differentiating between things that: (a) legitimately hurt; (b) cause her some level of discomfort/surprise; and (c) are just plain annoying. 

It means that her reaction when she cuts, bruises or scrapes herself is the same as the one where she is woken up unexpectedly, which is the same as the one where wind-blown newspaper chases her down the road, which (unfortunately for me) is the same as the one where someone tries to cut her nails. 

In other words, the Greyhound Scream of Death is bandied about our place like it’s going out of fashion.

I remember watching Irene at the GAP kennels in Sanson trimming Mila’s nails with an electric Dremel (which is like a miniature orbital sander) before she came to live with us. Mila stood there nice and calmly, allowing her legs and paws to be handled, and patiently waiting for the job to be done. 

When we got home, I bought a pair of nail clippers, thinking that it would be pretty simple to pick up where the GAP ladies left off. I soon discovered that the guillotine clippers had no place in Mila’s beauty regime. Admittedly, I am not the most confident of pedicurists at the best of times (where is the quick in all those black nails??) but each clip brought with it a fresh squeal of horror and a jerk of the leg. After four different sessions of attempted nail trims, both Mila and I were thoroughly sick of the whole thing and the clippers were retired to the junk drawer.  

Mila doesn’t have too much trouble with her feet and legs being touched (unless she is taken by surprise) and she is not scared of the nail clippers generally. She will sniff them happily when they are brought out and will even come to stand by me when I have them in my hand. But the second that I try to clip her “beautiful” long nails, it’s all over. 

When Mila went to Day Care, I asked the guys there if they could help us out. Paul has pretty much seen it all when it comes to the reactions of greyhounds, owning two retired racers of his own. He clipped Mila’s nails for us one day while she was there.  Apparently, his trick is to cover their head with a towel so they can’t see what is happening and don’t know to get themselves worked up and when to react. Sounds like a great idea in theory, but when I tried it she just knew. Same reaction, same result. 

Mila’s nails are naturally long and in need of regular attention. So a couple of weeks back, I relented and bought us a Dremel from Bunnings. I felt like a bit of an idiot spending $100 on a power tool for the purposes of grooming my dog – but now that we have two greyhounds, I kind of figure that the investment is worth it – and anything that can make the drama that is nail trimming an easier process for everyone gets a big tick in my book. 

And you would think that after that, we all lived happily ever after? Not quite. After three 20-minute sessions involving a number of treats and Mike and I working in tandem to make the Dremel experience as pleasurable as possible, we have three paws worth of trimming done and are building up to the last. We even got Chris involved in the process, acting as a model to show how patiently standing to have your nails trimmed gets you a lot of pats and some chocolate drops. Funnily enough, Chris was all done within about 20 minutes. 

"Why would you even think about trimming these beautiful long things??"
By the time we finally get Mila’s nails all done, we will be about ready to start all over again. While I’m counting on next time being a (slightly) smoother process, any tips or tricks you have for dealing with the nails of a hypochondriac greyhound in the meantime would be much appreciated.


  1. Hi Rachel
    Sorry, no tips or tricks, but lots of sympathy. Mynx is another Chris - "okay, just do it", but George acts like its a '50 Shades of Greyhound' torture session. He's simply too big for me to stand over him and hold him still, so we do his nails when he's lying on the sofa, and my daughter distracts him. He has an uncanny ability to sense the pending appearance of the dremel, and either scarpers before we can nab him, or pulls all four legs under him like a dead spider so that not so much as a tip of a nail peeps out. And yes, he's Mr Perfect for Irene and Robyn. Good luck! Sally

    1. Thanks Sally - I wondered if I was perhaps missing the magic touch! At least I know I'm not the only one dealing with these random dramas :)

  2. The only advice I can offer is to do it lying down - I find it much easier to manipulate their toes to where I need them! Mine don't love it by any stretch, but they do mostly tolerate it. Sparkie trembles the whole time, and Sam constantly pulls his feet away, so just get a good grip and go for it! I always let to when they pull away (lest they do me or themselves any damage) but I quickly grab the foot back and keep going. I'm no expert by any stretch, but a firm hand and no nonsense attitude seems to get the job done in five minutes per dog tops. In saying that, I did get Sam's quick for the first time ever just yesterday. Boy did I feel awful. A greyhound scream of death would have been justified, but he was really good. Lots of pats, I'm sorrys, and a consult with Dr Google and we were right as rain. Best of luck - it definitely improves with time!

  3. Good luck, Rachel! Irene does Beryl's nails for me, I'm too chicken:( I think I'd have a go if I had an assistant for the first few times til I got a bit confident, but I don't have an assistant so I'd rather not take the risk of anything going wrong.