Chaser, Wonder Mutt of West Edwards Street, has toenails the size of Wisconsin.
Thick, razor-like claws that rival anything a T-Rex had, which means no one wants to go anywhere near her when it’s time to trim the little suckers.
“You do it,” I ordered my husband and held out the clippers.
“I ain’t gonna do it. You do it,” he replied, knocking the clippers aside.
“I don’t think so.”
“Uh, she likes you better.”
I sighed. “I’m gonna have to play the labor card again,” I said. “Remember? Two inducements and 24 hours of gut-wrenching pain?”
“That was with our son, not the dog,” he answered.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “That card is like the Joker or the one-eyed Jack. I can use it for anything.” I looked him directly in the eye and reiterated, “Anything.”
“That’s not fair!” he howled.
“Keep it up and I’ll whip out that card when it’s time to clean out the garage. Or tax time. Or just because it’s a Tuesday.”
The first rule of engagement is Know Your Enemy.
OK, I don’t know if that’s actually the first rule but it sounds like a good one. So I’m gonna go with it. Too bad we threw the rule book out the window the first time we had to trim Chaser’s toenails. ’Course, we had to. She’d already eaten most of it.
Our enemy was sneaky and quick, possessing a rather well-structured grasp of the English language. And apparently born with an instinctual, visual understanding of what a pair of nail clippers meant.
“Where’s the dog?” my husband asked, snapping a sharp pair of dog nail clippers and waving them in the air.
I saw the business end of one fuzzy-tailed golden retriever take off down the hallway.
“She’s headed for France,” I answered. “Or any place where extradition is a slow and painful process.”
The next thirty minutes rivaled a Marx Brothers’ movie, considering the number of passes we made around the house while chasing her. At one point, I thought I spied Harpo, but that could have just been the concussion from running into the refrigerator.
As the battle ensued, I began to wish I was armed with something more effective than the oven mitt I swiped from the kitchen on the third pass.
“OK, I think I got a leg,” my husband said. At least that’s what I think he said. He was only visible from the knees down. The other half was buried under the bed and latched onto one very angry and cornered puppy.
I heard a low grrrr. That didn’t sound promising, I thought, considering I wasn’t sure which animal it had come from.
“Uh, babe, maybe you should walk away,” I suggested. Which was easy for me to say. I was already near the door, mentally calculating the distance to the back door. Factoring in my top rate of speed at 15 mph, I figured I’d have just enough time to make it to the garage and flee to safety before Chaser unleashed her Cujo-like powers on me.
“No, we gotta do this!” my husband insisted. “It’s important she learn who is boss around here. It’s about establishing dominance over a lower life form of the animal kingdom. It’s about – SON OF A –!”
His oath was cut-off by the loud smack his head made when it connected with the bottom of the bed’s frame.
OK, we established which animal was the lower life form of the animal kingdom. At least IQ-wise.
“She bit me!” he yelled and scrambled his way out from under the bed. He took one look at me and quickly forgot about his throbbing hand.
“What the hell do you have on your head?”
I reached up and tapped a finger on the makeshift helmet - a wire-mesh strainer I had grabbed from the kitchen during pass number 4.
“Not looking so stupid now, am I?” I answered. “Bet you wish you had one of these before you crawled under that bed.”
Writer John Steinbeck once said, “I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”
Yep, that about sums it up.
(originally published Dec. 12, 2008)