Pet Care

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Well, we did it! Wally and I made it through our first and second nail care slash grooming day. In fact Poesey, my seven year old cat decided to be the ‘pill’.

I had cheered so loudly and carried on so, that Wally did not know what to make of the commotion!

Yes, yes, I do realize that my challenge had been in the consistency of our grooming practice. But after making it through his surgery and now seeing him recover, a person has to rise to the care he needs.

And to rise to the care I always should have done. I am still walking him on the leash. We do not go very far before I let him off the line, but to have him enjoy the walk and we be in sync is just the best feeling in the world.

He had no medication going forward except…oh! It’s the first of the month. Time for heart worm preventative tabs. Another month and we will restart tick topical medication.

My Wally is ten years old. As I write his head lies on a pillow on the couch. On my days off, we walk down the road through the woods every hour or so. He loves the cold and especially the cold sunny days. But both of us love the couch in front of the fireplace. Poesey comes to lie on my legs. Once in awhile she extends her paw to swipe at Wally.

He sniffs at her, then puts his head back down.

I gathered small scissors, the nail grinding tool, brushes, combs, rag and spray deodorizer, ear cleaners and a plastic bag. He had not been groomed for months. In the winter months, he typically gets almost bear-like with dense black undergrowth which makes him appear twice his normal girth.

My mother begged me not to just shear him super short in order to get rid of the mats and full hair. I had promised I would not, so here he and I began.

I carry my pet grooming supplies in a clear plastic crafting container. It opens and shuts like an old-fashioned briefcase which is an important feature. I can easily access all my tools by feel and it keeps them all together.

Post Surgery Care Supplies

I have replaced the post surgery supplies with my usual grooming kit. Even that action was a relief!

I began his grooming with clipping the mats and crusted food particles around his neck. While he wore the cone, I had wiped around his neck but I still missed some areas. I could bathe him but his wound still seemed too ‘fresh’. Plus our Wisconsin winters have just dipped into below freezing temperatures.

Step One. Trim mats.

Wally and I have not shared a grooming session in months. I cried a bit at the thought. I cried a bit at his loss of a toe.

He looked at me, then jumped on the couch. Sitting to look at me, I placed my grooming tools next to him and the bag on the floor. I smiled at him, grabbed the scissors, then held his ear. Just as we have begun a hundred times, we began again.

I was unsure how long he would tolerate the process. In the past few months he had grown a bit sensitive to any touch of his legs. I also felt incredibly guilty.

But he sat there as I trimmed around his floppy ears. As I trimmed out any snarls and matted hair, I would comb through them with my fingers. Some veterinarians through the years had recommended using food-quality oils to remove matted hair and burrs, but I have never done it. I get concerned about oils in the house and if it attracts insects to his skin in the summer.

I just trim them out.


After his ears, I trimmed a bit on the top of his head and around his neck. Wherever the cone had rested, I trimmed out the Matt’s and any clumps. Wally sat still. I always softly with him as I groom. He is a sixty-eight pound active, normally strong setter. As I work around his body with cutting tools, I want him as calm as possible! I think voice and actions are part of the best tools a person has, especially with animals.

He leaned into the couch, slouching deeply until he stretched out. Legs were next. Although I was nervous, I was also determined to complete the grooming. Plus I had set aside the entire day. If he and I got too unsettled, then I had planned to pause for an hour.

But he stretched as I trimmed his legs. With his long hair, mats form between the pads of his toes and between the sinews of his legs. They are really not a ‘big deal’ but they have a tendency to attract more clumping.

I trimmed. I trimmed with scissors, then rubbed his legs. I wanted to reacquaint him with touch. He stretched. But he did not flinch. I trimmed the hair on his toes and between them. To my amazement, he allowed it.

During this session I never used the electric trimmer. I would have him hop off the couch, then hop back so that I could reach his other side. My trimming was no where near professional.

(I probably would not recommend ‘the couch approach’ as a grooming table, but my goal was a smooth yet thorough begin to grooming. Couch cleaning would come the next day!)

I had started a fire in the fireplace before we even began. After trimming, I wanted to comb him just a bit. Never his favorite, I wanted us to have a new, correct routine. Again, my efforts were not professional, but he accepted the combing.

Note: Treat time break!

I prepared a warm washcloth rag and the doggie deodorant spray. The spray came recommended with its conditioning properties as a plus to it’s nice smell. I like to do two things at once while grooming. What I mean by this, is I could spray Wally, rub the product through his hair, then feel for lumps.

Per the veterinarian’s instructions and my own experiences, I needed to incorporate the exploration of his armpits and around his shoulder blades. By beginning now, I would be accustomed to his structure and he would be used to my probes.

Note: As if he knew he was the topic of my writing, he has now retreated off the couch!

Not more than an hour had passed for this process. I decided to try the nail trim. Wally again sat on the couch. He seemed relaxed. I said my silent prayer as I held the nail trimmer. The tool is manageable with one hand. I can power it on and off with a thumb. Sounds silly but if it is a complicated tool then it becomes useless. I held his paw. He seemed uncaring.

I flipped on the power, then pressed his toenail gently into the opening by the drum. The nail trimmer consists of a sandpaper drum on the end of a wand. The sandpaper is covered with a clear plastic guide with holes for an extended nail.

I tapped his nail. Quickly I tapped the remaining nails of that paw. Wally looked at me. I looked back at him.

Then I blew it. Out of my calm, peaceful mantra, I let out a cheer. He jumped off the couch, running around the kitchen island, then racing to the front door.

Yay, we had completed a paw. Um, ‘nay,’ in that we needed a two hour break and a couple doggie treats to calm down.

Later that day, we completed his nails. I felt like crying but I could not. We did it.

Yep, there he is.

My advice? Keep up the grooming schedule. Establish it, even if you need to take your pet to a groomer. Always keep learning and always strive to improve your relationship with your pets. And if you goof up, then cry and fix it! Watch videos and ask your vet!

Plus, don’t forget your other pets. My cat, Poesey, seemed perturbed at the attention to the ‘animal other than her’. I had allowed time for her grooming but the order of the day did not suit her. Ordinarily well-mannered, she fidgeted and batted and threatened to nip as I trimmed her nails. Her calm eventually returned as I began to brush her.


May you have a wonderful month of February, full of winter adventures and time with family, friends and your furry ones!

Love, s

Relearning…both of us.

Published by Stephanie Monka Springborn

Hi. Welcome to my blog, the brick dandelion. I am... just me. Thank you for joining me. Love and Blessings, ~Stephanie

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