Holly has a background that’s typical of many rescue pups: her mother was found, abandoned and pregnant, and was taken on by an animal rescue worker who fostered her. She went on to have eight puppies, all of which needed new homes. The mother dog will now be spayed, then rehomed herself. It’s been a long saga, but thanks to the selfless dedication of people who genuinely care about animals, there will now be nine dogs with good prospects in nine loving homes in Ireland.
Kirsten heard about the pups looking for homes when they were just three days old, via an animal rescue Facebook page. She put her name down for one of them, and she went to see them with her eight year old daughter Caitlin when they were three weeks of age. The mother dog was a good-natured, gentle Collie, and at that stage, Holly was tiny, still suckling on her mother. All eight puppies were adorable, and they chose Holly because of her perfectly symmetrical markings.
They collected Holly when she was eight weeks old, fully weaned and ready for her new life. She has had an ideal start: she shared a home with humans, two cats and two dogs, so she has been well socialised, and she’s already used to a wide range of sounds, sights and experiences. Research has shown that pups that grow up with this background are more likely to become calm, well-behaved pets.
There’s just been one problem: Holly has long, sharp nails. Young puppies cannot be taken for walks, because they do not yet have full protection from the serious viral infections that are commonly picked up in public areas. Before she’s allowed to go for walks, Holly has to wait until a week after her final vaccine, which is given at twelve weeks of age. Meanwhile, her nails have been growing rapidly, just like the rest of her body: they haven’t had a chance to wear down from walking on tarmac, which is what happens with older dogs.
Long, sharp nails can cause problems: they tend to snag on clothing, especially woollen jerseys. And they often cause small scratches to owners when puppies play or wriggle when they’re being held.
When Holly came to see me for her vaccinations, I used the opportunity to sort out this minor but common issue. Kirsten held her still while I used fine nail clippers to gently nip off the sharp tips of all her nails. This wasn’t painful, any more than humans having nails clipped, but Holly did have to stay still. She didn’t mind, and she was given plenty of praise and a food treat afterwards. This simple nail clipping session has an additional benefit: it gets Holly used to the idea of being gently restrained to have minor procedures carried out. The lesson she’s learned will be helpful for other routines, such as grooming and tooth-brushing. It’s helpful when puppies get used to these types of procedures when they’re young: it makes them easier to keep as pets when they’re older and bigger.
Holly won’t need to have her nails clipped again: she’ll soon be wearing them down naturally as she runs around local parks and paths. But in the meantime, Kirsten and her daughter are able to play more comfortably with her, without the risk of being scratched by those pin-sharp tiny talons.