I had to cut one of the dog’s nails today and she really doesn’t enjoy it, actually she gets so terrified that she throws herself free while being completely oblivious to any harm she does to herself or to the people around her. Every time we cut her nails she freaks out like this and makes it very difficult and dangerous for us to do the cutting. She doesn’t intentionally try to hurt anyone she only tries to push, flop and wriggle her way free, but when it is a very large dog like she is it can be dangerous as she can easily scratch or whack you very hard.
Usually when I do the nail cut I hold her as still as possible while the other person does the cutting, but if she jerks while you are cutting you can hurt her by cutting too much, so it can be quite a tricky thing to accomplish.
What I did this time is to decide to push her to push through this fear by holding her until she is completely relaxed and “fake” cut the nails over and over until she relaxed enough for me to do the real cut. She fought for a long time and whacked me around for a while till she relaxed and it did work. The reaction that she had to go through was so extensive and I do not want to have to push her through her fear and make her realize that I am not hurting her in any way.
I am amazed by how much fear she had to push through before she finally started letting go. I have tried to slowly push her through the fear before but it never went away and she was unwilling to let me assist her in removing it. When you work with animals the communication barriers that are in place are extremely difficult to work around and most of the time you have to end up showing them that what you are doing is in the best interest of all as the benefit much outweigh the cost of pushing through fear. In this case it is a matter of ‘if I do not cut your nail, it will grow so long that it will break and cause you massive amounts of pain and by cutting it we avoid that outcome’.
I realised while I was assisting her that this principle of sucking it up and pushing until you can stand and not allow yourself to be buried under the weight that fear brings into our daily lives is the only way that we are able to let go of fear and see all that is going on around us without hiding behind a wall of excuses and justifications.
There is a saying that I see as very assisting in terms of working with fear:
Fear is the mind killer, I will face my fear and I will let it pass through me, once the fear is gone there will be nothing, only I will remain.
Fear is momentary and if you stand and breathe the fear will pass as it is only what you think is going to happen to you not what is really going on around you, if you do not allow yourself to get sucked into the projections then you will realise that it is only a cloud of “what ifs” meant to haze your eyes so as to make you blind to reality.
Have you ever looked at yourself and your life without only seeing the “what ifs” that blind you? Do it and you will suddenly see that the problems you face are in fact simple to correct you have only been too scared to see the answer.