I’m not an ugly bug. I am a really really ridiculously GOOD-looking dog. A dog with a serious message to share. I am The Bean.
I may look like a handbag dweller (I am Metrically less than 4 kilos which makes me Imperially 8 and a half pounds) but I am feisty and fit.
In order to keep my sleek appearance I take a lot of exercise. I walk many miles a week with my humans – mostly my mummy (because he is busy doing something called ‘bringing home the bacon’ although in truth I have not seen any evidence of this bacon, to which I am very partial) but bestly with both of them. We walk and hike on trails here in the USA just like we do in Europe.
The winter here in New England has been unusually mild. I am grateful for this fact. I like snow but I am told that sometimes it falls in metres rather than inches and being quite economic in the leg I would soon be unable to walk at all. We had some of the deep stuff but mostly it was the sort of snow I am used to and I had plenty of fun diggering and snuffling on my walks.
But now it is really quite Springy here and this is the point of me hijacking my mummy’s blog. I got a tick. I didn’t feel it. It just sat on my back which is black. Then it started to grow – at first my mother thought I had some sort of blemish. She can be exceptionally stupid. Obviously a dog as beauteous as I has NO blemishes. These little blighters sit on leaves and blades of grass and wait for a likely victim (they call it a host but surely a host invites people to the party and I did not invite any ticks to mine). They can crawl but they cannot leap or fly.
By the time my retarded people realised what it was, several days had passed and it was Sunday with no vets except emergency ones open. So they did what all humans do and they Googled. I don’t really know what Googling is but it seems to be regarded as a fast track to wisdom. Personally, I prefer to use my nose. I’m a dog – it’s what we do. My daddy was satisfied to discover that his method is the right one. You take tweezers and make sure you pull it hard and straight without pinching the skin. But mummy was insistently maverick. She had found an article written by someone who suggested something unbelievable. My daddy was mistrustful. But he agreed to try it. Probably in the interests of shutting her up. When he was deciding on a career many aeons ago, he considered being a surgeon. He did a very passable impersonation of having trained thus as he got ready for the operation. Sterilised tweezers were laid on the table for the inevitable moment when she was proved wrong and he was proven right and he had to operate with pincers as he had first suggested. He donned blue surgical gloves and I was taken upon mummy’s knee (which I like very much) and stroked tenderly whilst she held my head in a vice like grip lest my teeth got the better of me and decided to nip. Which I have to own up, they occasionally do. Under stress, you understand. Like the time when someone tried to sit on me when I was a puppy – I was under a cushion and they forgot to check – I was extremely small and the posterior bearing down on me was extremely large. I had no choice. Anyway, he started to rotate the critter quite rapidly with his pointy finger. His face had incredulity virtually tatooed on it and he was clearly just going through the motions to keep her quiet, so imagine his amazement when after about a minute the tick leapt off me. Maybe it was dizzy with all the whirling although I don’t think ticks have ears so that can’t be right. Or maybe it just didn’t like the sensation of being whirled but whatever it was, it jumped leaving no bits of itself in me although it had made a crater in my skin to sup my sanguine fluid out. Which is extremely rude for an uninvited guest.
And to prove the point that we weren’t fantasizing, two days later I got another one (purely in the interests of research you will understand) and the people did the same trick again and after about a minute it simply flung itself off me.
Daddy put the tick into a pot full of something called Gin and covered it with clingfilm. Mummy says Gin is also called mothers ruin – well it ruined this mother. After several days it was very definitely a dead tick. I don’t know if it was helplessly drunk before it’s demise – I am not that well acquainted with tick habits and I don’t intend to enlighten myself further.
The day after the first tick was removed my daddy rang my mummy and said he was going to the hospital. He had removed a tick from himself after a run and left it wrapped in paper in a freezer bag in the kitchen. His work people told him not to take any chances. He asked mummy to take a picture and send it to him so the hospital could identify it. I don’t really understand how they do these things – I just know how to pose for pictures and I know it makes them smile so I have become something of an expert at it because it usually generates pats and treats.
Daddy’s tick was a Deer Tick. My tick was a North American Dog Tick. I think this is a bad name because clearly no North American dog actually wants to be associated with these vile beasties. They steal our blood. Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease. This is a very bad disease and it can kill people. It can also affect dogs. My daddy is fine because the hospital gave him antibiotics but he did have the start of a bullseye blemish where it had started to bite him. This is a sign that the tick is infectious.
My people now spray themselves with DEET and their clothes too. They went to the hunting store to get some. The hunting store is full of stuffed animals. I did not go with them. I do not want to be stuffed. They also annointed me with anti-tick drops which last a month. I despise these. I have them inflicted on me in France where my Vet refuses to believe that they hurt me very badly. Because I can’t talk human (though I bark very eloquently if you speak dog) I can’t explain what the problem is and they say that my skin doesn’t have any signs of anything bad. But I really really NO like. I try extremely hard to rub the stuff off. Therefore, they used trickery by getting me in the car (which I love), taking me to the running trail (which I love) and with my guard down they squoze it on me and then took me for a long, reasonably fast, run. Each time I tried to roll they distracted me and by the time I got back I was so tired I had forgotten it. Until next month. Sometimes being a dog is very very hard. This is why I have to have a cupboard full of snacks. Because my life is tough. It’s a dogs life ….
PS: The title is from one of my mummy’s favourite childhood songs – Burl Ives ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’. Interestingly even the bugs seem not to have invited ticks to the party ….