The “Check” Routine.

When Ray adopted us back in March 2013 and subsequently moved in with us, he had a minor ear irritation which dictated administering a few drops of medication. The problem was resolved very quickly however, an insecure and reactive 75lb dog would not be my first choice of animal to work on (isn’t that why vets charge what they do???).

Carol had no such reservations and so took care of things without losing any fingers and without receiving any wounds inflicted by “the patient”.

We were later talking about keeping his teeth clean and healthy and although Rutabaga does a nice of job of general cleaning*, we would still like to be able to brush his teeth for greater efficiency (and to save the vet bills!).

We also needed to be able to check his feet. Do his claws need grinding? Should we trim the fur between his pads? Are his pads ok?

In summary, there were many predictable reasons why a bit of “manhandling” would be necessary and then, of course, there were always the unknowns. Why does he seem to have a slight limp? Did any of that glass he just walked over cut his pads? What’s that tiny little lump on his leg? Why does he have a bald spot on his leg?

Carol eased gently into applying the medication to his ear with a simple “Check your ear” as she touched his ear. Following typical training protocol, the touching with her hand slowly progressed to touching the inside of his ear with a finger, and ultimately to wiping deep inside his ear with a cotton wool ball soaked in medication. All went well.

The teeth cleaning project was simply an extension of the same process. She started with “Check your teeth” and touched the side of his mouth. This was slowly developed to rolling his skin back to expose his gums and teeth, to actually touching his teeth. A toothbrush could then be introduced as a “touching tool” and later, with a layer of pure pumpkin on the bristles, could be inserted into his mouth. It was not long before Carol was brushing his teeth with chicken flavored toothpaste.

His feet inspections were just another extension of the same process. “Check your feet!”

Carol did all the work with the “Check your …..” routine for two main reasons. Primarily because she had no reservations about being up close and personal with Ray! Secondly, and in contrast, I not only had a dog bite in my history, but I had also experienced the “wrath of Ray” and proceeded with extreme caution if it involved possibly upsetting him! The beauty of the “Check your …..” routine was that once he accepted what was going to happen (and knew that it would not be detrimental to him), he allowed me to check his ears. Later I was able to check his teeth and have since often checked his feet!

He is currently very happy to let Carol brush his teeth so I have not ventured into that area just yet, but I can see no reason why he would not cooperate. Two years ago he did not want to be touched! Two years ago he was very suspicious of any contact. Two years ago he would have lunged and barked. Two years ago, his life changed …………… as did ours!

*Related Post “Praise the lowly Rutabaga” – Mar 10, 2015

19 thoughts on “The “Check” Routine.

  1. Stories like this are so moving – the sadness of what may have happened in an animal’s previous life balanced by the trust that develops between them and their new family. Our littlest cat Izzie bonded with me when I had to dress an infected wound (inflicted by our male cat Hermie not long after she arrived). After some initial struggles, she caught on fast that I was trying to help her & we’ve been mates ever since 🙂

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  2. I’ve got that same chicken flavored toothpaste for my hound, and I swear I end up laughing with him during the process much more than I do actually succeeding in brushing any teeth. There’s so much licking going on I’ve often thought about getting some sort of tongue clip to help me out.
    Carol sounds so patient and so kind, it’s no wonder Ray is responding so wonderfully.

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  3. You have a very smart wife. I’d like to borrow her on occasion. Although I have 50 years of experience with cats, I only learned two years ago how to efficiently pill them (had to do 4 pills a day for 4 cats!). Not from my current crew but I have had some severe wounds from past attempts with other cats. The slow and easy does it approach works best and if you can’t do that, there is the vet.

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    • Yes she is very good (and has a number of dogs in her history). I used to pill our cats by getting them upright and blowing on their face! They seemed to instinctively open their mouth so a pill could be popped in! That was suggested by a vet.


      • When I tried that technique, they would go spit it out in back of the sofa just like a dog. Stroking their throats sometimes works too. Now I do it very fast on top of the washing machine so it’s over before they know what’s happening. I also have a pill popper tool that I use with some. For the others, I can use my finger.

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  4. Love your posts about the challenges of dog ownership.
    Well done Carol. It all takes time and gaining trust.
    Our key phrase with Maggie is ‘Show me’. She’ll roll on her back and let either of us inspect her to determine the trouble.
    Cutting her nails was started from day one, when we went through the motions but never actually did anything and now she just goes to sleep during her ‘manicure’.
    Cleaning her teeth however is something we have never mastered and we had to have a professional descale and polish two years ago which set us back a few quid. She’s never been a chewer but we were recommended a product called Plaque Off (a seaweed compound) to sprinkle on her food which keeps plaque at bay. It works and a small container will last about 6 months, so is very cost effective.
    Limps, lumps and cuts are monitored and if there is no improvement in a day or so, then we take her to the vet. After all, our canine babies can’t tell us what’s wrong.

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    • “Show me” to Ray means that he will take us to whatever he needs at that time (food? outside?). Ray was very nervous about nail cutting but then he has large nails which require a fair effort to cut. We resolved it by getting a little grinding tool and now his nails are ground on a regular basis. We haven’t seen Plaque Off, but we did check some others and, on reading the ingredients, decided to pass!

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      • You have found a natural alternative though, which is way better than any processed product.
        Maggie has 2 black nails, so we have to be careful, but she loves the filing bit almost as much as the hairdryer after a shower!

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