All ears

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Brian’s got an ear infection (might have something to do with looking out of the car’s window on our last trip). We’ve got some cream with clotrimazole, gentamicin and betamethasane so it should be sorted soon. But it made me realise how important it is to prepare him for his ears being cleaned and inspected at the vets.

It’s been ages since I had a puppy. My rescues tend to be older and they often have deep rooted fear of being groomed or going to the vet. I’ve taken Brian to the vet a few times, with no other purpose but to make him comfortable there. He got some fuss and a toy every time. Being scared of people he might never be an easy patient, but at least he doesn’t associate the place with anything unpleasant.

I still do all the basic grooming myself, I brush his teeth, trim his claws, comb his coat, clean his ears and eyes (he is prone to infections) -the vet can still only touch Brian’s body (not the paws, nowhere near his head). But I know how important it is to make sure he trusts the vet. Taking Ardbeg to the vet was the most traumatic experience I can think of. It got better when we found the vet we use now – all the staff are unbelievably patient and considerate, we waited in a separate room, had as much time as we needed, they encourage people to pop in with their pets to say ‘hello’ and make the pets feel comfortable there.

Even though I’d recommend a professional groomer especially for hard to brush, long or tangled coats or claws clipping, the level of stress in fearful dogs makes it impossible to be groomed by anyone but the owner (and even then, it’s not an easy task at first). It’s a good idea to ask a groomer for some help if you decide to do it yourself. Take some lessons and if you’re absolutely confident you want to try, ask your groomer/teacher to assess your abilities.

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Lily’s groomed professionally now, but just to illustrate why I had to learn some basic things: to trim Ardbeg’s claws I needed first to convince him the clippers were not a vicious witch’s tool of choice for torturing dogs. So, with the clippers in my hand I sat nearer and nearer every day for three months.Praise and cuddle every time. Then clippers could touch his paw (a month). Praise and cuddle every time again. When, after about 6 months I clipped one of his claws I celebrated as if I’d just given birth to a baby. It got better, but it was never easy. But then, Ardbeg’s abuse history included kicking him and crushing his paw (one of his digital pads was badly damaged).

I have taught Brian that claws trimming is a normal thing rewarded by a lot of attention from me. He didn’t mind so much when I cleaned his ears, but now, with the infection, he’s not entirely happy I touch the bad one. So, there’s room for improvement, I’m going to touch his ears daily with cotton wool and reward him for being calm. I’m blessed with a dog I can shape and form, with few bad memories. Time and patience is all we need, there’s love in abundance so we should be fine.

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15 thoughts on “All ears

  1. Hopefully Brian’s ear will be well again soon! Well done with all the training, it often gets overlooked by a lot of people until a situation occurs where the dog has to be touched somewhere he’s not used to and just refuses to let it happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh poor Brian, I hope his ear is better soon. Sounds like you’ve got the best stuff for it-sometimes you can get vet-approved ear wipes for general cleaning…but I’m always in two minds about those. I LOVE your claw cutting training! Brilliant easy steps to follow designed to stress the dog as little as possible…going to show Mum! Erin hates having her claws cut- we literally have to wait until she’s fast asleep and just do one at a time. She’s always been funny about her feet being touched.
    Great post-Lily looks adorable, and hope Brian’s ear is better soon x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s not serious, his immune system needs strengthening I guess. I use some ear cleaning liquid that my vet recommended, but if the ear is infected it’s best not to use anything, just go to the vet 🙂 Claws are hard (in more than one sense). I try to do some ‘air clipping’ to make the dogs feel comfortable. But it’s enough to cut the quick once and they’ll always avoid the clippers 😦 I’m the main claw trimmer in the neigbourhood, I’m afraid…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol! Obviously your neighbours recognise your expertise : ) Mind you, I’ve seen someone catch their dog’s nail, right near the quick and it didn’t half bleed…I hated cutting my son’s finger and toe nails when he was a baby! At least cat claws are generally self-maintaining..on the carpet, the wall paper, the sofa..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Whoever says that cat claws are self-maintaining hasn’t met my Beba! If she doesn’t get her manicure about once every 6 weeks, my body becomes her scratching post. She doesn’t do it maliciously, only playfully, but but playful scratches bleed just the same.
    I hope Brian’s ear gets well soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We used to have a cat (Mr Darcy, British Shorthair) whose claws were more like a tiger’s, really sharp and thick. Everything was shredded to pieces and each time the groomer saw us you could notice some distinctive signs of terror in her eyes (Darcy didn’t like people much, nor claws trimming).

      Liked by 1 person

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