Who Knew Trimming Dog Nails Could Be So Traumatic?

For every optimistic bone in my body (and there are lots), I have a worst case scenario bone that sometimes invades my brain and makes me obsess about the craziest shit. It’s gotten better over the years, because things usually work out ok and there’s never really a “worst case” scenario that appears in real life for me. At least there hasn’t been for a while.

I had a worst case scenario attack this week. You’d think I’d be stressing about our move, but that wasn’t it at all. My German Shepherd Athena is eleven years old. I probably told this story before but it’s ok, I’ll tell it again in case you missed it.

When Mel was in Kindergarten or first grade, he was attacked by a black lab. He was terrified of dogs for years after the incident. My solution was to get a big dog so that he would love it and see that not all dogs are going to eat his face off. I found Athena on a Craigslist ad boasting full blooded German Shepherd dogs. When I went to go take a look at her, it turned out that she was being sold by a backyard breeder who hadn’t done any genetic testing and was likely lying about her “superior bloodline.” She did have AKC papers. I haggled over the price they were asking. After all, no reputable breeder would even try to get rid of puppies before they were eight weeks old. She was only five weeks old and was the runt of the litter.

In my mind, German Shepherds only lived about 10 years. The internet confirmed this. So I decided I would get her. Mel was 8 years old at the time. I figured that by the time Mel was 18, Athena would be dying and I would be free to roam about the countryside. Mel is 20 now. Athena will turn 12 this year. Now that she is old and we’ve grown up together, I can’t even imagine what it will be like when she dies.

But over the last few days I have been imagining it, because I have been a fairly unfit dog owner the last year or so. I have always walked Athena. We would usually go for a walk around the neighborhood that would be from two to six miles depending on the weather and our mood. Over the last couple of years, maybe since she has turned around 10, her hips just don’t work like they used to. She can’t walk near as long and it seems like walking on the concrete makes it worse. So I quit taking her for a walk. I overlooked the fact that if I was not walking her on concrete that I would have to cut her nails.

That’s never been a thing I’ve had to really worry about because of the walking on concrete, it just kind of filed their nails down to right where they should be. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t notice them getting longer. I did. I even tried to cut them myself but she would not have it. The only time Athena had any kind of speed to her movement was when she saw the nail trimmers. She went from Betty White to Usain Bolt in .02 seconds. She’s old. She deserves her peace. I wasn’t going to be the one to rain on her senior dog parade. So I just left them alone.

And they grew, and grew, and grew. Do you remember Jackie Joyner-Kersee? Now, put those nails on some dog feet. That’s what Athena’s nails have looked liked. I tried using that pedicure paw nail file. Nope. I tried bribing her with peanut butter. Nope. My sister came by to try while bribing her with peanut butter. Still a big fat no.

My sister said she would probably have to be sedated. I called my vet, explained to them how unfit I was and asked if I could bring her in to be doped up and have a nail trim. And then for the next 24 hours I dove into this worst case scenario where I drop her off to get her nails done and she doesn’t make it home because she was too old to go under anesthesia. So I pulled up to the vet this morning with Athena in tow. Our vet tech Kevin came out and we talked, I signed the paperwork saying that I wouldn’t hold them responsible if she died, because it was looking more and more like that may happen. I signed the paperwork for the bloodwork to make sure she could go under. Kev took her inside and told me to wait for just a second. After about 8 minutes (or less), he came back out with Athena on her leash. I thought he was going to say they couldn’t sedate her, but what actually happened is that he was able to cut her nails without sedating her. And then he gave her an updated rabies shot and sent us on our way.

I don’t think I have ever been so relieved. I know Athena doesn’t have much time left. I mean, she’s so old, sometimes when she gets up out of her doggie bed, she drops little poop nuggets on her way out the doggie door. She doesn’t even squat to pee anymore. She just kind of hobbles through the grass and let’s it go. Her top and bottom front teeth are nonexistent. And her hips are tight and limpy when she gets up after laying down for too long. Right now, she doesn’t seem to be in any pain and when it seems like she is more miserable than happy, I will take her and have her put down, because I refuse to keep an animal alive for my own comfort.

However, that day is not today and I’m so grateful that she didn’t have to get sedated. I really want her to be able to see the beach before she finally goes to the rainbow bridge.

I guess it just goes to show, again, that the worst case scenario is the wrong scenario to focus on.

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