I have a friend whose pug adoration is legendary. And since I live with one too, we tend to connect on this issue. But when he sent me this video of a pug screeching and bawling during his toenail trim (like only a pug can), I couldn’t see the cuteness (though Wallace is cute indeed). All I could see was a patient with a serious foot-handling phobia.
By the way, I’m not alone in my pet video sensitivity. This is a problem plenty of veterinarians share. Cute animal videos on YouTube are often lost on us –– or worse, they can seem offensive.
In fact, some even make me cry. A recent video of a “cute” squirrel being hit on the head with a mouse trap comes to mind. (I will not torture you with a link to the video.) Because when you're practiced at recognizing the signs of head trauma, "cute" bonks on the head don’t seem quite so funny anymore.
So it was with this pug video. This YouTuber apparently wanted viewers to come away with a greater understanding of her pug’s dramaliciousness. Which most viewers seemed to appreciate. But through my veterinarian’s eyes, all I could see was the truth of one pug’s terrifying ordeal. Here’s the video for your consideration:
Dr. Khuly’s diagnosis = Scared Pug
It’s a perspective that’s perhaps best summarized by the comment I left behind on YouTube’s “dramatic pug hates having his nails clipped!” video page:
“Not so funny. This dog is not being ‘dramatic.’ He's terrified. There are better ways to handle this situation. But as long as people continue to think situations like this are ‘cute,’ dogs like Wallace won't get the careful approach they need. This reaction, common though it might be, is not normal. Thankfully, it can be prevented by teaching puppies that foot handing and toenail trimming is a fun and rewarding activity.”
OK, so I could have gone into greater detail but the Internet doesn’t love a long, depressing diatribe after a cute pet video where almost every other comment is, “Awwwwww …. how adooooorable! Mine does the same thing!!!!”
Which begs the question: Does the average viewer see a frightened animal or does Wallace’s snarfly sounds and the laughter of his holder give you the impression that this is just another hilarious veterinary escapade?
Unfortunately, I think it’s more likely to be the latter. Which makes me sad not just because dogs like Wallace are being misunderstood, but because veterinary professionals are in the perfect position to point out that this patient if not best served by a forced toenail trim.
And that begs yet another question: What would I do? Here’s a past post on this topic that summarizes my position.
So what do you think? Maybe you think I’m the one being overly dramalicious. Your call …
-Dr. Patty Khuly