When I’m not blogging about the Lessons I learned from Sophie, I write about the activities of Heaven Can Wait Animal Society where I am a co-founder and the unofficial (they only have me) editor of the newsletter and blog. One of my most rewarding jobs is to report on the pets we rescue. Some, like a Cockapoo named Charlotte had been living on the streets for a long time. Her fur was so overgrown it looked like dreadlocks and her unattended nails had curled and grown into her paws. It made it nearly impossible for her to walk. Thankfully, Charlotte made a full recovery and found a wonderful home. Those stories made me aware that I would run into the same health issues if I didn’t pay close attention to Sophie.
I first noticed one of these grooming problems, while moving Sophie so she could sit near my desk. I looked down at her bed and saw flecks of a black substance all around her back paws. When I examined her paws closer it looked like her pads were disintegrating and falling apart. There were big chunks missing on what used to be a smooth surface.
I panicked and thought my dog had contracted some flesh eating disease, but it turned out the black flecks were quite normal. It was dead skin sloughing off, but because Sophie couldn’t walk she wasn’t able to shed the skin like a healthy dog.
I was instructed to rub her paws with vitamin E to keep them soft and manually slough off the skin as needed.
At that time I also realized Sophie’s nails were becoming overgrown because of her inability to walk. Our family had always taken long walks with the dogs, so Sophie’s nails had been kept trim naturally.
I’m not afraid of handling most grooming or even first-aid tasks for my dogs, but clipping their nails makes me very nervous. I’m afraid of hitting the quick and drawing blood.
Like Charlotte, Sophie’s nails were curling into her paws.
So every couple of months, I would do what was needed to keep Sophie healthy. I would lift my 50lb. dog from her bed, place her into my car and drive to the veterinarian’s office. Then I would hoist her out of the car, put on her rear harness and walk her inside where they would trim her nails.
The nail trim took a lot less time than the ordeal of getting Sophie to and from the vet’s office, but it had to be done. There were so many little details like this that Ken and I encountered during the 5 years Sophie was paralyzed. I have to admit, these maintenance issues were time consuming and on occasion frustrating, but it was the only way to keep our dog alive….literally.
There were times when we questioned whether we should just throw in the towel and then we would come to our senses because we knew that day would come soon enough.
Related Story: A Bed Is More Than Where You Lay Your Head At Night, The Lessons