I’m still kicking myself. Holly told me to let it go but my nature is to continue kicking myself until I correct the mistake I made. Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like but I usually find a way to fix “it” whatever it happens to be… And I will this time too!
Kali’s nails never need clipping because our daily walks seem to keep them short. They pretty much always look the same. Neatly manicured by mother nature. Except for her dew claws. These tend to get long and I know when they begin to bother Kali because she’ll start to chew on them. So last week when I saw her chewing on them I took a look and sure enough they looked like little hooks and in need of a trim. I’ve trimmed them a few times and although it’s not a favorite grooming activity of Kali’s (to say the least) she usually reluctantly complies and I’m able to get off a quick snip without any problems.
But not last week. Last week Kali squirmed away just as I was pressing down on the handle of the clippers and I immediately knew that I had hurt her. I caught the nail too close to the quick. There was a bit of blood and probably a bit of pain for Kali. Holly helped and as I held Kali still Holly quickly cauterized the nail with styptic powder and wrapped the area with a sterile bandage and gauze.
Kali was fine but I wasn’t. I walked around the kitchen saying, “#%&!!…”. Holly: “Stop it, she’l be fine. It happens”. Me: “&*%$#!!”.
I went over to Kali who was now laying down and settled. “I’m so sorry Kali. I’m so sorry I hurt you”. Kali didn’t seem to be in any pain and other than being a little confused about the bandage on her paw everything was fine. But not for me. I wasn’t fine and I’m still kicking myself.
The next morning I was surprised to find the paw quite swollen but during the course of the morning the swelling resolved and everything seemed fine. Kali let me hold her paw and squeeze it gently. There was no apparent pain. The nail was black but there was no bleeding so I didn’t re-bandage it. Then a couple of days later Kali was running in the yard and I saw her pull up and come hobbling back towards the house. The nail was bleeding again. We bandaged it and again the next day it was fine. Yesterday on our walk I noticed it bleeding. When we got home I did a closer inspection and could see that the nail was split – much like a hangnail – and the quick was exposed. Great – more kicking myself and some silent #%$^@!!”s. Kali walked on it fine but when I touched the “hangnail” she didn’t like that at all. When I moved the small piece it clearly hurt her.
Kali tried her best to be a good soldier; she knew what I wanted. I wanted her to hold still while I washed and bandaged her paw. But she was too scared and her instincts overrode the desire to obey. It was an interesting dynamic seeing in her eyes both acknowledgement of what I wanted and also the fear of being hurt.
It took about 15 biscuits and some magician-like maneuvers to get it cleaned and re-bandaged. I soaked it for a few minutes in a pan of warm water, dried it off, and put on a new sterile bandage wrapped with gauze. Kali gave the bandage a cursory lick but for the most part ignored it and went off to sleep in the sun while I scoured “source of all truth” (the internet) to gather more information about cracked dew claws.
Like most things you read about on the internet, and in life, there are many versions of the truth. But I did gather enough reasonable information to feel as though I had done the right thing by wrapping Kali’s dew claw up and keeping it clean. It was quite interesting to read comments in forums from many dog owners that suggest the dew claw should be removed completely in order to avoid the problem in the first place. Many owners advocate amputation when the dog is spayed or put out for some other reason. I’m no expert but that seems rather excessive and not something I would ever consider unless it became medically necessity. There were many countering opinions that suggested that dog’s need this appendage to help them maneuver when running and turning quickly as well as helping to hold things still such as a bone or Kong toy. That seemed much more reasonable to me.
Kali’s is no pain and walks just fine but clearly something needs to be done. So to be sure I’ll take her to the vet to get a professional assessment and to see if the nail needs to be clipped completely off in order to grow back properly or what the best treatment may be. I’m hoping the prognosis is that it will resolve itself without medical intervention but I’m not very optimistic. I’ll know later today after we see the vet.
One thing I do know for sure is that it will be difficult for me to trim Kali’s dew claws in the future. We’ll get past this and then I will begin a regimen of touching her toes and nails without involving clippers in order to get Kali used to it and to regain her confidence in me. It’s really something I should have done in the first place. I should have been regluarly touching her toes and nails and lavishing her with treats to reinforce her allowing me to do so before I ever attempted to clip the first time. Had I done so she wouldn’t have pulled away last week. There would be no cracked dew claw and no drama for my Golden Kali girl.
Like the old saying goes “should’ve, would’ve could’ve”. I knew better and ignored it. And for that, I’m still kicking myself.
I too am a “beater upper” of myself so I totally get that. Kali has already moved on I’m sure and your love for her is evident! Baxter (our Maltie-poo) is constantly picking at his dew claws so this was interesting and informative for me. I never knew to remove them when he was a puppy and have always felt slightly guilty I didn’t. It was good to read your info from the various forums from the pro dew claw people. Thanks!
I’ve had a similar experience & know how frustrating & scary it is. What I found was that the next time I tried to clip my shepherd’s nails it was ME who was nervous, not him. That took a while to subside. She knows you didn’t mean to do it & still loves you. That’s the beautiful thing about dogs. You are so lucky to have each other.
Aw…these things happen. We’ve had our share of kicking ourselves and feeling bad about a nail clipped too closely or a paw getting accidentally underfoot. Kali still loves you. 🙂
In my working life (I am now retired), I had a small staff compliment. One of the things they remember me for was my standard response when a mistake was made – “I’ll expect perfection from you as soon as I can set the example. You’re all quite safe!” However, I did expect them to learn from their mistakes.
In your situation, yes you screwed up and should have known better…… but now is the time to learn and move on. Beating yourself up over it serves no beneficial purpose.
Ray voiced his displeasure with nail trimming quite clearly however, with clicker training and a dremel grinder, he got used to it. The grinding is so much gentler than the clipper action but we have to make sure the grinding wheel is rotating away from his foot (i.e. grinding his nails from base to tip). Good luck. 🙂
Thanks Colin It’s my nature is to beat myself up when I make a mistake especially if it negatively affects someone I love. But as you said, learn from it and move on. Thanks for the suggestion about the grinder – I’ll
look into that.
We all have plenty of Homer Simpson “Doh!” moments when trying to do best by our pups. Luckily Kali will recover with lots of love and treats. She’s lucky to have you.
Thanks Will. And yes, a definite Homer Simpson moment.