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Grooming Wookie

I may have accidentally stumbled upon a way to make grooming Wookie less of a battle. Of course, we’ve been down this road before with mixed results. For instance, when I learned that putting her up on the kitchen counter would keep her from running away and she would calm down, I started doing that, but that was short-lived. Giving her treats while grooming her works, but only if Joe is around to do so while I work on brushing her. She eats the treats frantically, however, so I know she’s still stressed out by the process.

The problem is how easily her fur mats once it gets just a little longer. I can brush her in the evening and the next morning there are new what I like to call mini dreadlocks on her legs and near her tail. So of course it’s painful when I try to get them out. I try to hold the fur close to her leg so the brush isn’t pulling and hurting her, but despite having touched her legs, paws, face, etc. since she was 8 weeks old she still doesn’t care for it. Sometimes if the mats are too large I will just cut them off even if it causes her fur to look a bit weird in that spot because it’s easier and less traumatic for her.

In addition, she has watery eyes and gets tear stains. The stains themselves are the least of my worries even though they are unsightly, and I bought some Burt Bees liquid to clean them, but my main concern is how her fur gets very crunchy in that area if it isn’t cleaned and combed daily. She really really hates the comb near her eyes and nose and will nip at it and my hands. She bit me pretty hard last week (although she didn’t break skin) and it really made me feel dejected because I’m merely trying to take care of her and she’s biting me. I know I took it too personally, but it’s hard not to feel that way when the dog you love is biting you.

I have this pair of gardening gloves I purchased years ago to wear when handling Steve the rat. Joe wore them when Wookie was stung by a bee so he could hold her paw while I removed the bee stinger. It dawned on me that I should wear them when grooming her to see what would happen. As soon as I started brushing her legs she of course started biting at the brush, and by default my hands, but since it wasn’t hurting me I kept going. She stopped trying so hard after that. In addition, I had left her toothbrush on the rug and she started chewing on it. She was so focused on the toothbrush that I was able to continue grooming her, even getting some of her muzzle, and she didn’t seem nearly as stressed as she is when Joe is giving her treats. That’s an added bonus since she can eat through quite a lot in one session. On top of that, I didn’t have to put her up on the counter which tends to make her pee from anxiety.

Pretty much the only thing I don’t have too much trouble doing is brushing her teeth because she likes the toothpaste. That being said, it’s really difficult getting her back teeth since I have to kind of hold her down and pull on the sides of her mouth to get back there. Of course those are the teeth that already have plaque buildup so she’s definitely going to have to get a professional cleaning at some point to the tune of $165. Other than the dental chews sold at the vet, I’ve been told Greenies and Dentastix don’t do squat so that explains why even though I give her those I haven’t seen any improvement in those teeth. The vet-approved chews are a) more expensive and b) not nearly as appealing to her for some reason. Figures.

On the plus side, now that I’ve discovered her desire to chew on the toothbrush, I will be using that when brushing her. I just hope she continues to enjoy it.

Also, she was cut very short today. Isn’t she adorable?

I will try to keep brushing her daily even though it won’t be necessary so she can form new associations with the brush and not fear it since it shouldn’t hurt if she isn’t matted. Honestly, I think some of her reaction is just her being sensitive since I can be brushing an area with no mats and she still tries to scoot away or bite.

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