It’s not complicated to take care of puppies, even though there are lots of newspapers to put down and pick up, lots of mopping. Everybody is eating puppy food now, with a cocktail of Mom. And the little brains are just developing enough to look for stimulation. This weekend it will probably be time to reconfigure the pen for more space and more toys. Next week the 4-H kids start coming to help play with them.
This evening I took the opportunity offered by an extra-long Apprentice finale to stuff a dewormer down 9 puppies and to clip toenails (9 puppies times 20 toes), a tiny act of care that took far longer that I ever expected.
180 is a lot of toes.
My favorite toenail story dates back to Brooklyn. The boys and I liked to play with pretty Xena, a hyperactive nine-month-old German Shepherd girl. Xena had two throw toys, and her loving parents would—twice a day—throw one after another for an uninterrupted forty-five minutes, allow for a few minutes rest and adoration from their girl, then pick up a few more minute in hopes of achieving a happy dog flat in front of the fire for the evening.
Like my Maxie, who screams when his toenails are trimmed, Miss Xena was not inclined to participate in grooming rituals. Her mother was a smart lady, even smarter than a German Shepherd puppy. First, she sat down and carefully, lovingly trimmed and polished her own nails, while keeping up a stream of conversation with Xena. “Oh, that is so pretty. I really love having pretty fingernails. They are so smooth and bee-yoo-tiful.”
By this time, Xena was curious what was going on. German Shepherds simply require to know what is going on with their people at all times. She came over next to Mom, checked out the very beautiful nails. And Mom struck. “What? Would you like me to do yours?” And Xena sat quietly, happy to be made as beautiful as her mom. Toenails clipped, all parties happy.
Dogs, like humans, respond to compassion.