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