White Dog later tried to soothe the sorrow I had for putting poor Pearl in a situation that scared her so. "You had to do it, momma. It was for her own good."
Pearl has made astounding leaps in learning to trust since she came to us a few short months ago. She follows Steve everywhere and he can pet and stroke her. Pearl loves walk time and gladly lets Steve clip a leash to her collar as they, usually with Bella and Benson along, head out into the neighborhood. She has joined my morning coffee club and drinks from my cup...but she still jumps back if she thinks I am reaching to touch her. She will take treats from both of our hands.
But there are still limits. Our Pearly Girl does NOT allow us to pick her up and absolutely refuses to be restrained (within heartbeats she can climb the baby gate and escape to the yard). She is a former puppy mill breeder who has had a very hard life, we are content to go slowly and let her find her own speed to bloom.
Since we do not have much body contact with her, we do not have the benefits we do as we groom and give rubs to others in the White Dog Army...of checking for lumps or things that need further inspecting or just to have an awareness of each pup's state of their body. Today when she turned to head out to the kitchen I noticed the pad of her right rear dew claw looked swollen.
Steve was able to st on the floor and pet her while at the same time surreptitiously checking the leg. The poor baby's claw must never have been trimmed and it curled like a ram's horn. The point of the nail was reentering the pad which was becoming infected.
Clearly it needed to be dealt with but the moment Steve slid his arm over her back and around her belly, Pearl went stiff. When he lifted her into his arms she twisted and bucked with all of her might pushing against his face until she broke free and jumped down.
She was now panting and wary.
We put together a plan of gathering the clippers, the ointment and a bag of treats, ignoring her as Steve went about a seemingly unrelated task. Then he grabbed Walk Time leashes and opened the front door to the sun porch.
"Benson! Bella! Pearl! Who wants to go for a walk," he called. We already knew that Bella will only be leashed next to me in the office and Benson was comfortably sleeping on his back on the couch. "How about it Pearl? Just you and me?" She could not resist and went out. Steve clipped on her leash. To relax her, they went out and walked to the corner and back but when they returned Steve led her back inside and handed me the lead.
She stiffened suspiciously as Steve sat down next to me facing her. Pearl sensed something was not right and began struggling to get away as I slowly and as gently as possible shorted the leash until I had a hand on her collar. The poor girl was frightened despite our calm voices and Steve's constant supply of treats. She reared up in an attempt to twist her restraint from my hand and I was able to slide my arm under her front legs giving better control of her mobility as I positioned her between my legs.
I did not try to lift her and kept talking as Steve flattened to his belly to reach her back leg. She thankfully did not flinch as he gently clipped the offending claw and then checked the left...also clipping there. The clippings were each over a quarter inch long. He gently daubed the pads with ointment and popped another treat in her mouth as I unclipped the leash.
My heart cried at her expression of betrayal and I apologized for the trauma we had caused. She avoided me and ran outside. A short time later she came back inside with Steve, apparently he had been forgiven.
I hope this does not set back her slow journey to fully trusting me as I try to explain my actions were in her best interests. I saw her a while ago examining the right leg; let her make the connection between it feeling better and our interaction earlier I think but then another thought says...maybe it is best if that memory of today's events simply fades away.