Billy resting after his ordeal
Every summer Billy starts collecting grass seeds between his toes (read about De-grass seeding Billy here http://lifeatspringrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/de-grass-seeding-billy.html ). The best way to counteract this habit of his is to give him a pedicure at the beginning of spring. As are most things Billy doesn’t enjoy, it’s a two person job. This year Graeme was very ill around the optimal pedicure time followed closely by me catching Graeme’s bug. Crawling around on the concrete laundry floor attached to Billy while he tried to hide all four paws at the same time just didn’t appeal to us until we had completely regained our strength, so Billy had ample time to go out and stock up on grass seeds.
The fateful day arrived and we gathered our instruments of torture (electric clippers and a pair of hair dressing scissors), invited Billy into the laundry while carefully concealing said instruments of torture, and quickly locked the door after him. As soon as his avenue of escape was blocked Billy started to suspect something was up, especially seeing Graeme was in the laundry too. Our one and only toilet is located in the laundry and Graeme is very strict about not sharing this experience with Billy. When Graeme enters the laundry Billy is told to leave! So something sinister was definitely afoot (literally).
The first thing we needed was Billy lying down on the floor. Experience has shown that trimming Billy’s toes while he’s standing just isn’t a good idea. Billy leans, and when Billy leans his massive body on someone they know they are being leaned on. The usual outcome for someone being lent on by Billy is to fall in a heap on the floor. Billy then feels very sorry for his latest victim and stands over him or her and worries that you might not have appreciated being leaned on. This wouldn’t be too bad, except that Billy usually has strings of drool hanging down and these tend to be shared with the leaned on vicitim. Graeme tried his sheep dropping technique to get Billy to lie down. To accomplish this Graeme reaches under Billy’s tummy and grabs Billy’s front and back leg furthest from him. Billy immediately drops to the ground, unlike when I try the same technique solo and I’m the one that is dropped to the ground. As soon as the St Bernard hit the floor I dived on his head and held the sides of his face, murmuring words of encouragement and love, even though Billy is now stone deaf and can’t hear a word I’m saying. Billy watched me with wrapped attention as if he was soaking up every word, but what he was actually doing was trying to get me to rub his ears, head or any other part of him I could reach.
Graeme had begun the toe shaving as soon as I had Billy’s massive head in a strong hold. Billy gave me a hurt look as if to say, “I thought you were here for a love fest and now I find you are working in league with the master torturer!” I apologised profusely and explained that it was all for his own good. This got me nowhere because, as stated above, Billy is stone deaf. I then had to endure reproachful looks from Billy while Graeme played Catch That Foot at the other end. Billy wouldn’t leave his foot in Graeme’s possession if there was any chance of removing it and hiding it under his body. At first Graeme would wrestle Billy and retrieve the foot he’d been working on. When this grew old, Graeme resorted to attacking any foot not tucked under the 70kg dog instead of going after the foot he’d been working on. Billy can’t hide all four paws under himself at the same time, no matter how hard he tries so there was always at least one foot available for clipping.
Once Graeme had finished with the front paws I decided to help by trimming the undergrowth around Billy’s pads. This required letting go of his face, but by now Graeme had a good hold of a back leg and I remained vigilant in case I needed to grab Billy’s head in an emergency (Billy turning his head to help Graeme is considered a major emergency in this procedure). Once I began snipping the lush growth of hair between Billy’s pads, Billy joined in and nosed my hand away from his foot every time I managed to get the scissors near his foot. Sometimes I was quick enough to snip some hair, other times I was too slow and no clipping was accomplished. I was hampered by the fact I was trying very hard not to snip Billy’s nose when he moved in to remove my hand and scissors from the general area of his foot. Billy took unfair advantage of this and won more rounds than I did.
Finally Billy’s feet were shaved and trimmed. One thing I noted about Billy’s shaved feet. Usually when a rough coated dog is clipped you find there’s not much dog under there. They look to be about a quarter of their size pre-clipping. Not so with Billy’s feet. They look just as huge bare as they do covered in fur. Billy was not impressed with this new streamline look and tried to escape to go hide his feet until the hair grew back. We’d found a few little holes in his feet where grass seeds had dug in and wanted to spray those spots to prevent any infections, so, while I once again held Billy in a headlock, Graeme sprayed The Purple Stuff between Billy’s toes. This was the final indignity and Billy had had enough. He rose from the floor with me hanging on and totally unable to keep him down, and headed for the closed door. I gave up and let go. Billy then stood at the door, turned his head to give us one of his best long suffering looks and waited for me to open the door for him. Suitably chastened I did. Without a backward glance at us Billy summoned all his dignity and left the room.
Unfortunately he had to walk past the ferret cage to go sit in the shade and brood. The four ferrets were lined up along the cage as they always are when Billy is being held against his will. They know bad things are happening to Billy and they are all for it! As Billy walked past the ferret cage I’m sure I heard pointed comments about purple toes and naked feet. The ferrets deny it, but Billy and I both know the truth.
A close up of Billy's shaved foot before the purple spray was added. This is embarrassing enough for poor Billy I didn't want to photograph the graffitied foot.