Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book review and nail job

Today, I finished reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  HATE might be a bit strong, dp, to describe my reaction.  Annoyed (the Harlequin perfect ending), bored (the cliche "romance"), saddened (to think about the reality for animals and people in circuses and zoos, even today), reluctant (to confront the inevitable helplessness of old age) and appreciative/curious (about the research) were all responses to the book.  I'm still wondering if there are any documented court or at least police records dealing with the crime of red-lighting, and also about the phenomena of jake-leg.   100,000 cases?  Was anyone ever prosecuted over this?  Also, although I know it's not cool, I have always been one to seek personal information about writers (and composers) when trying to understand their work. Sara Gruen has several rescued animals at home, including a horse.  And, she was inspired by photographs; that is somehow endearing.  So, my response to her book is guiltily negative because although it contains some pretty bad writing, I think I would like her, and she did start some wheels turning.

I did another thing today - a first.  I clipped all of Black Jack's nails.  I did a few back in the summer, but was so nervous, I had to stop after three or four.  This time, I hung in and completed the job.  The day I picked her up, Tanya, the foster mom, did them.  It was horrible.  Black Jack fought her and struggled and cried, and Tanya pulled her little legs so hard, I wanted to beg her to stop before they came right out of the sockets.  The next time they were done, I took her to a nearby vet.  It was again a struggle, and at least four of her nails bled - a lot.  In the summer, when I did a few, I took only the tiniest bit off, and gave her a treat for each one completed.  I figured out that the trick was to hold the nail very firmly so that there was no twisting when I clipped. I was thrilled that she stayed calm, sitting on my lap, and didn't cry once.  Still, my stomach was in such knots, as I said, I couldn't finish.  Today, one nail bled a very tiny bit - actually one teeny-tiny drop, and thankfully, she didn't seem to notice.  As you can see, it wasn't a very neat job.  Suggestions for a brand of clippers, or place to purchase  them, would be great.  But overall, I'm happy, because Black Jack didn't appear to be at all traumatized.  She's sitting on Bill's lap here, so that I can photograph her dear little paws (sorry for the mushy prose, but can't help myself:)  Strange that they still appear long - I'm wondering if that's a Chihuahua thing.  
Here she is, loving the attention.
Oh, and I couldn't resist asking Bill to take this picture of me before I went out today.  Just for dp -  I figure if my book review didn't lose your respect, this may quite possibly do it:)  You'll be relieved to know, though, that the shine on the sleeve is an artifact of the light coming in the window.  
My next book, if anyone is curious, will be Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.  Nobody recommended it - I just liked the title.  


  1. 1: Bel Canto is LOVELY. One of the nicest books I have read in the past couple of years. I ended up reading all of her books as a result and most are great.

    2: I did find the historical elements of Water for Elephants very interesting but I cannot abide by ridiculous plotting and prose. Too bad, because the book had a lot of potential.

    3: You look great in your winter wear. Not uncool at all!

  2. Also on claw cutting: I have my dogs lie on their backs when I cut their claws so that I can see the quick from the bottom. I rarely mess up, and a little corn starch will stop any bleeding quickly. I prefer the scissor-type clippers to the guillotine-type, and some come with a piece that blocks the nail from going in too far.

  3. Another alternative for trimming dogs' nails is using a dremel - just a momentary touch of nail to dremel and it is done.
    My dogs have their nails done by the groomer, because I am a big chicken, so I haven't personally tried the dremel - I know many people who swear by it though.

    As for the long nails, that may be the result of not being trimmed often enough - the quick grows longer and hence the nail cannot be trimmed back as far. One of my shelties has nails like that - they always look like they are in dire need of trimming!

  4. Missed the bit about the long nails. You can push the quicks back if you trim every couple of days for a few months. I have done with successfully with a couple of foster dogs now -- then you'll really get comfortable with nail trimming!

  5. dp.. Thanks. Yes, I think scissor-types are better. Just need better quality ones, I think. And may try Black Jack lying on her back next time, if I can keep her from squirming. She was really comfortable leaning back against me, but that made it difficult for me to see the quick.

    You're right about Bel Canto, and about reading good books more slowly (I just found that comment of yours, several posts back). I hadn't thought of it that way, but on almost every page so far, find myself going back to savor little gems...

    And thanks. I am totally missing the cool gene, so not uncool is sort of like getting an A on my report:)

    Jean, thanks also! I looked up some sites and even checked out some videos using the dremel, but it looks scary to me. Since we had a pretty good experience yesterday, I think I'll go with more of the same but with better quality clippers. Very interesting about the quick having grown longer due to infrequent trimming. I think that's exactly the case with Black Jack.