Banjo: a Good Dog in a Bad Situation

Readers ask for more Banjo, so here’s a Banjo story that’s not particularly epic or even travel-related, but those Banjo-lovers out there might enjoy it.

You know how we spend nearly all day outside, which leaves us dirty, sunburned, bug bitten, and itchy in general. So worth it. 

Banjo’s in the same boat. She asks to go outside as soon as she’s eaten breakfast, and she won’t go back in until dusk. But she’s filthy for it: with spots of pine sap stuck in her fur, forest debris stuck on the sap, dirt seemingly forever covering her all over. 

And although we walk her three times a day, sometimes with a big hike, it’s still out in nature, not on sidewalks, so her nails have grown long. Any of you who have had the honor of her standing on your foot knows this painfully well. 

And she won’t let us groom her in the slightest. It takes both of us to pull a tick off her, and we gave up trying to get that sap off long ago. She just hates when you examine her. You can pet and pet, but the minute you look at a spot or feel it specifically, she’s squirming away and acting like she wants to snap at you. Somewhere early on, someone did something painful to her. Might have to do with that barbed wire scar along her hip.  

In any case, her claws are getting ridiculous, so here in Helena, MT, we finally took her to the grooming section of a PetSmart. Not an ideal solution, but we don’t have many choices. 

Keep in mind that Banjo rarely interacts with strangers and never goes indoors other than our trailer. Plus, you know, doesn’t like most other dogs. 

And she was such a very good girl. 

She let the groomer take her away from us—reluctantly—and let her lift her onto the table and put a leash around her neck connected loosely like a noose to a bar hanging above the table. All secure. Banjo was so scared she didn’t even see the other two dogs on tables near her. 

So Tracy and I walked out to the store, thinking she’d put up with the nail clipping better without us in view. 

I lasted about ten seconds before I had to peek back at her, and apparently that was all Banjo lasted, too. The groomer frantically waved me back in and, with her arms around banjo’s body, said that Banjo had fallen apart when we left. “Normally it’s the opposite,” she said. 

Aww, Banjo, I’m flattered. I know she has a strong bond with Tracy, but sometimes she gives me such a self-satisfied look when he’s petting her like she’s intentionally showing me that he loves her more. No such luck, Banj. But the look on her face when I slipped back into the grooming area was pure desperation to get to me. 

In fact, when she saw me, her back end immediately slipped off the tall table, which left her quasi hanging from the noose around her neck. She did a heroic job keeping her front end up on the table to keep herself from being strangled (she wouldn’t have been; the groomer was right there trying to help her), but quickly she wiggled her head out of the noose and jumped down, loose in the tiny grooming area with three young women and two stranger dogs. 

No one panicked though, because she ran straight to me.

And, miraculously, with me verbally reassuring her from outside the barrier, she let the groomer pick her back up, put her back on the table and in the noose—and, in about two minutes, the groomer clipped all 20 nails and had Banjo back to me.  

Banjo’s Big Day at PetSmart: really just ten minutes, but ten minutes when she proved herself to be bonded to us so well that with us around she could overcome her worst nightmare situation.  

Good girl. 

4 thoughts to “Banjo: a Good Dog in a Bad Situation”

    1. Ikr? Damage could have ranged from carnage to lawsuits to animal control. Banjo instead acts with dignity and control. Good girl

  1. It’s funny, our cat Middy is like that with being inspected vs. patting, it makes checking him for stuff very difficult! Can you get near Banjo’s claws at all? We use a mini dremel on ours because it’s impossible to clip their claws (pugs are renowned for it) but they’ll tolerate the dremel oddly enough.

    1. Hey you! Banj won’t let us touch her really in any way that’s not petting her. But Tracy does have one of those dremels, and we just found batteries for it, so I’m sure he’ll try it. Not sure I want to be in the trailer when he does 🙂