Nails Cut: The Arrival of Anticipation

Every so often, Mom says: “OK, everybody! Time to getchyer Nails Cut!”

Now mind you, before the moment that Mom says Nails Cut, there is no anticipation in the air, none whatsoever. Everything is going along rather nicely and carefree on a leisurely Sunday morning – we’re playing in the sun and march march marching around the backyard. We have no anticipation of anything – we’re fully in the moment, getting all the smells sniffed, getting our zoomies run out, and our backs scratched by rolling in the grass, and JUUUUUST when we’re gathering up to lay down on the deck and take in the sunshine, Mom sneaks up with: “Who wants to get their Nails Cut?”

And she comes at us with the snippers and peanut butter crunchy treats, and we just have to simply endure the next five minutes because Mom has peanut butter crunchy treats. There is no getting away on Nails Cut day.

But the worst part is: now we have anticipation. And probably not the good kind of “An-ti-ci-pa-tion” like Carly Simon sang, but an anticipation of another sort.

There are few things I hate more than Nails Cut.

The only upside to the way Mom handles Nails Cut in this “surprise” fashion is that we don’t spend needless time anticipating it. Anticipation is the WORST. Because the fact is: WE HATE GETTING OUR NAILS CUT.

I have a very even temper and can accept most things as they happen. However, my higher-than-normal tolerance for change and surprises does NOT include Nails Cut. Nails Cut makes me cringe and twist and turn inside out, and when Mom gets close with the snippers, my paw JERKS and I spend 18 truly terrifying moments (two dew claws, don’t forget) in ANTICIPATION.

The only other thing I hate as much as Nails Cut is hard surface flooring. Nope, I am not crossing that threshold unless I see carpet or rugs on the other side! Just NOT GONNA DO IT. Even on a leash connected to my Mom, I will turn and go the other way, and then it’s all my body weight against hers with the leash. Stalemutt, not stalemate!)

Compared to hard surface flooring, Nails Cut is at least understandable. I walk around on my nails and if they get too long, it makes my paw bones uncomfortable. I can take a lot of pain, but my old bones are getting janglier and janglier, and Mom says that having long nails throws my off my gait and makes the arthritis worse. When I get the Nails Cut, I can certainly tell a difference in comfort. But I will never understand why someone would not put down at least one rug to cover that cold, slick and treacherous hard surface flooring!

Let’s go back to the idea of anticipation – that idea can go either way, good or bad. In some cases, anticipation makes me more nimble on my toes in a good way. If I’m anticipating a COOKIE, for example, I immediately assume a sitting position and my attention is focused on the sweet, beautiful, rewarding crunchy anticipation. That type of anticipation is inspired, poetic, it’s sublime and one of the little things in life that makes my belly hum melodious vibes.


But when it’s time for Nails Cut, the anticipation is freakish, horrifying. The two times Mom accidentally cut my quick were flashes of searing agony at the end of my limbs – the exact opposite of good anticipation! Then we spent half the day as Mom fussed at me when I walked around the house tracking blood all over the rugs. Eventually I was captive while she applied pressure every 30 minutes and fussed some more. Nails Cut is a glistening, evil guillotine of nail death.

The runup of anticipation goes much like this: Mom holds my paw, and carefully lines up the snippers to the nail, she seems to be taking so long, and in BAD anticipation, and out of my control really, my paw jerks. (I can’t HELP IT.) So, Mom has to start again… her grip tightens, and she is telling me to chill out, and she lines up the snippers,… slowly,… carefully,… annnnnnnd I try so hard to be still and not to anticipate the SNIP! Every time I hear the SNIP: the pressure on my nail makes me want to jump up and run around to get rid of the yucky feeling!

Mom tries to make it easier with the peanut butter crunchy treats, but no matter how many treats she dangles in front of me, the cold metal snippers just don’t bring about a good association. Nails Cut will just NEVER be a good moment in life, or even a NEUTRAL moment. There are just some things that cannot be unwound from bad anticipation.

I take GOOD anticipation so seriously because it symbolizes so much of what is RIGHT with life: going for a walk (I jump for joy!), sitting for cookies (I tap my front toes for joy!), waiting while Mom fixes our dinners twice a day (I whine and cry for joy and watch her every move!), going in the car (I wait at the door and dance for joy!). To endure BAD anticipation are the moments of soul torture, because during moments of BAD anticipation, it feels like GOOD anticipation is so very far away! Way on down the road, completely out of sight and mind!

Certainly BAD anticipation dominates the Nails Cut. But Thank Dog that Mom gives us the GOOD anticipation of peanut butter crunchy treats for each paw to keep our eyes on that glimmer of hope that there will be an end to this. She knows how to break it up for us into bite sized chunks. When we are done, Mom celebrates. She says, “YOU DID IT, TILLY! YOU DID IT!” Or, “YOU DID IT TOBY, GOOD BOY! YOU DID IT!” Then we shake it off and walk around, trying out our new nails in the grass.

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