Clippers and Nails and Vet Techs, Oh My!

I’ll never forget the time I was forced to take Suki to the vet’s for a nail trim. It’s one of those moments in time that my mother will never live down. Suki was still fairly young, but she’d hit that point in her life where almost all Schipperkes decide that nail clippers should never come within 50 feet of their paws. It’s one of those breed traits that isn’t included in the typical description, but a trait it is all the same. I hadn’t discovered the wonder that is Dremels and other electric filing devices so I was still fighting with Suki once a month with a regular pair of clippers, and Suki can really put up a fight if she wants to! Even with two people holding her down she’d manage to flail, and between leg lurches leading to quicked nails and the flailing of freshly clipped nails scratching against arms everyone would be covered in blood by the end of it*.

*Only slightly dramatized for effect.

I guess my mom had had enough of that, because she informed me that Suki’s next nail trimming would be done at a vet office. I guess she figured they’d know what they were doing and would be able to manage the crazy little beastling. Now, before I go further I’d like to state that Suki’s nails were not overly long by most standards. They were longer than I like to keep them, but they weren’t even touching the ground. I had also painted her nails pink about a week earlier, just for fun, and at the time we went in the paint had mostly chipped away.

Actually, looking back at this photo, they were pretty long…

The first thing the techs did (aside from glaring at me) was muzzle Suki. I understand, generally when dogs are brought to vets for nail trims it’s because they’re biters so I’ll let that one go. “You painted her nails!” the techs exclaimed, glaring harder, “now we can’t see the quick.” I thought that was kind of an odd thing to say, because the paint was chipped enough to show that Suki has opaque black nails. Even the slight hint of quick you can see if you shine a light on her nail isn’t reliable enough to use as a guide; for dogs with black nails it’s best to use the curve of the nail as a guide and slowly take the nails back a bit at a time. I think I mumbled something about her quick not being visible anyway, to which the techs shot back “we can’t see it because you painted them.”

They hiked Suki’s front end into the air, as if she were a rearing horse, and attempted to cut her nails. As expected she pulled away, and because of how they were holding her it make it very easy for her to fight them. “Dogs only act this way” they informed me, “because someone has quicked them when they’re puppies.”

“For her it’s just a breed thing” I replied quietly, wishing I wasn’t there.

“No” they said coldly, “dogs only do this if they’re quicked as puppies.”

By this point I was feeling rather under attack, and I was distressed because my dog was very clearly distressed. If I hadn’t been so young and shy at the time I’d have grabbed my dog from them and left, but because this was years ago I just stood there quietly while they finished.

$10 lighter and feeling emotionally berated, I hurried out to the car to inspect her nails. They had taken maybe a half a millimeter off. I could tell they had clipped her nails because the ends were flat across, but there was no discernible difference in length. My mom was shocked at their shoddy work and attitude. I can’t remember if I was surprised Suki’s nails weren’t short enough or not. Needless to say I was never forced to take Suki back for another trim.

A bit shorter than this is my preference now, although sometimes I procrastinate for a week or two…

So that’s one of my new dog owner horror stories. Thankfully since then I learned Suki doesn’t mind having her nails Dremeled and no longer needs to be held down to have her nails done. Feel free to share your own horror stories in the comments!

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