We have long known this, and it’s certainly no secret to, well, anyone really. Eric and I are marshmallows, and Ivan and Dasa play us like fine stringed instruments, if you’ll bear with me through such disparate images.
We are marshmallows who melt at the slightest whimper or sigh from Two Small Dogs. Two Small Dogs who are much too intelligent and intuitive and, with no remorse whatsoever, employ whatever strategy is necessary for getting what they want. We know this, and it matters not a whit. We’ve learned a lot since we were brand new basenji parents, and most of what we’ve learned helps us to be better parents. However, we’ve regressed in the area of nail trimming. Beginning with Reno, our firstborn basenji, Eric filed nails and I brushed teeth. I still brush teeth, but nail care has been delegated.
Eric had no problem filing nails manually with a couple of files. This worked pretty well; there was no noise and it was easy to do while the basenji was sprawled across his lap. And so it was that we had little boy basenjis with neatly trimmed nails.
Then we adopted shy timid Dasa, our first little girl. A little girl who was afraid of men when we adopted her. Eric won her trust and she soon became Daddy’s little girl. However, I noticed her nails were getting a bit long and reminded Eric several times that they needed attention. He finally confessed he had not been filing her nails because he didn’t want her to resent him. (sigh)
So, I got a dremel and started doing their nails. Dasa decided she didn’t like this and struggled. I asked Eric to hold her while I did nails, but while he gently held her little paw, she tugged it back and we were afraid we’d hurt her. Then Ivan decided he shouldn’t have to do this either, and complained and grumped and huffed. (If either one of them had whimpered or yelped, I would have tearfully apologized and cuddled a small indignant dog.)
We dreaded nail trimming. Ivan and Dasa forgot about their ordeal within minutes, but the humans were stressed all day thinking about this. So, in the interests of not allowing Ivan and Dasa to completely run the house, as opposed to just generally having their way, and also to keep this from becoming stressful for Eric and me, we delegated.
A neighbor’s recommendation lead us to Chris, a mobile groomer. Chris is very calm, capable, and skilled at dremeling close, neat manicures without exposing the quick or causing Ivan and Dasa to bleed, thus avoiding having to scrape their mom off the ceiling.
When Chris pulls up in front of our house, I take Ivan and Dasa out one at a time to her trailer. This is not popular. Ivan complains vociferously, but Chris is also a trainer and is not impressed by Ivan’s protests. At first, I’d hold my breath, expecting to see Chris emerge in tatters from her session with Ivan, but she always comes out unruffled and somewhat amused. Ivan may grump once or twice when he’s in the trailer, but he knows Chris is not swayed by tantrums, so he usually settles in quietly.
Dasa must be carried out to the trailer because I simply will not drag my sweet girl by her little neck. She does a few head flips when she’s first on the grooming table, but she also knows Chris is not bothered, and Dasa soon decides to just stand there.
It’s over quickly and painlessly for all parties. They are so precious that I sometimes lie awake at night and watch them breathe. If Chris gets us through nail trimming with minimal stress, she’s well worth it.
Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years to basenjis and their humans. We are very fortunate to have our magical munchkins and also to be part of such a great group of people who devote a lot of time and energy to giving basenjis a second chance at the forever homes they all deserve.