Cuddles and Snickers are at the doctor’s office today. Normally they are in the family room, balancing on the recliner while looking out the window through the blind slats … not at all sure what they can see, but they are intent.
But today, they are at the vet’s office for their various shots, tests, nail clipping and baths. While it sounds routine, it is anything but routine for Cuddles.
Apparently, at some time in her past, she was abused in and around her paws. When she first arrived at our home, we tried clipping her nails and could not get her to hold still. She violently pulled back — never snapped, but clearly was terrified.
She is not terrified to look out the bedroom window at the birds feeding just a couple of feet away. So we don’t know what caused her terror at having her claws clipped.
So, we did what anyone would do, we took her to the groomer’s and asked them to clip her nails. They were successful in “grinding” some of them, but could not get all of them done and none of her claws were significantly shorter than when we left her for the grooming. And, again, she was clearly terrified.
Next stop on the journey for reducing nail length was the veterinarian. Surely, with all the staff, equipment, etc., he will be able to clip her nails and we will be on our way. Cuddles disappeared into the back of the animal hospital with the smiling vet carrying her, assuring us that it would be a simple task for them. [You can read into his expression “You poor guys, can’t even get the dog to hold still for a minute! We’ll take care of it.]
About 8 minutes later, a very harried vet returns carrying Cuddles — nails are no shorter and he is significantly humbled by the strength of our little MinPin. And, as per previous encounters, she is clearly terrified.
“We were not able to calm her sufficiently to do the job.” He then said that our only option was to bring her back on another day and have him operate on her … just put her under anesthesia for about 10 minutes and they would clip and cauterize her nails. She would not be declawed as that is not a good thing for a dog, but the nails would be very short and it would take several months for them to grow. Of course, the operation costs money, as does the anesthesia, treatment, etc. and it would be an, almost, all day affair for her. We had this as one option — the other option was to have our limbs shredded when our skin comes in contact with her paws.
Needless to say, we have taken her to get her “nails done” today so that when we bring her home she will no longer shred our legs with Samurai sword claws when she jumps up onto our lap.
We don’t know what terrified her so much when it comes to her feet. She has been with us almost two years and there certainly has not been anything here to foster that kind of reaction, but it matters not because her fear is visceral and there is no way to prepare her for the normal clipping procedure.
So, is this post about our travails with Cuddles nails? Yes, but just a bit.
I want Cuddles’ experience to cause us to consider what terrifies us. I am fairly confident that there is something in each of our lives that has hurt us, burned us, or abused us whether the injury is physical, psychological, mental or emotional.
When I was a very young child, I had polio and it resulted in scoliosis that showed up before I started school. Because the doctors warned that the severity of the curve would claim my life by the time I was 25, my parents opted for experimental treatment that involved spinal fusion surgery and over a year in a body cast. I turned 10 years of age after surgery and 6 months in bed in a body cast that went from my head to my knee. The Lord was gracious, the scoliotic twist was not cured but it was halted, and I was able to live a normal life, including having two children.
I tell you this to say that, even though I credit the Lord as the Great Physician and his messengers, my human doctors, for sparing my life, the horrors of the treatment and body cast were imprinted on my heart and mind. But, I never thought of them until a doctor suggested that one of my children might have scoliosis. All at once my greatest fear was staring me in the face. All the memories that I thought were gone came crashing down and I was wailing, sobbing and utterly drained.
My beloved husband kept repeating that decades had passed since my surgery and the traumas that were associated with it, but I could almost touch my fear it was so real. I had to come to the point where I could say, truthfully, that my children were the Lord’s and that, if He wanted them to go through this, I had faith in Him that He loved my children even more than I did and that He would handle the situation according to His plan for them, and for me. As it turned out, there was no scoliosis diagnosis from any orthopedic or neurosurgeon specialist and the children are now adults, both of whom tower over me in height!
Cuddles trusts us — she, in her own doggie way, knows we would not intentionally harm her. But her trust is not sufficient to overcome the fear that some other event had imprinted on her psyche.
Cuddles and I are different; however, because while my fear knocked me down, it could not overcome my Lord and Savior. He is sovereign and trustworthy, and I am in His hands.
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”
We are repeatedly admonished in Scripture to trust the Lord. For example, the Psalmist compares objects of trust in Psalm 20:7 where he affirms:
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
And, the writer of Proverbs says:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
The God that is described in the Old Testament as being trustworthy is the same God we serve in the New Testament body of Christ. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:8 that:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
So, who do you trust when you come face to face with your fears? Do you trust in human wits, Oprah, psychology, or tabloid suggestions? Or do you trust the Creator of the Universe, the omniscient, omnipresent God who sent His Son to be our Savior?
May we say, along with the prophet Isaiah:
“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
Father, forgive me for the myriad of times when I let my fears and insecurities rise to the surface so that they distract me from living my life in victory in the power of your Son through your Holy Spirit. I praise you for being an everlasting rock upon whom we can trust. I praise you, also, that you have never forsaken me even when I have tried to run and when my fears turned my eyes away from your beloved Son. Thank you for your overwhelming love and protection, despite my fears.