I imagine that getting into heaven would be much like a job interview for a handy post, in a reputable company and with the best pension ever.
With your CV already forwarded to the corresponding department upon your application/demise, instead of an interview panel, you’d have St Peter quizzing you for some vital information such as, “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” and “give us an example of how you handled conflict in the workplace?” Then, after he has asked the remaining requisite questions, he’ll enquire, “Is there anything you’d like to ask me?”
“Certainly, St Pete,” I’ll say. “I have two words for you: Ticks. Why?”
Ticks: They’re up there with cold sores and diarrhoea, as being the vilest creations ever conceived of by our so-called benevolent God. Unlike things like midges or mosquitos, who have the decency to suck your blood and then buzz off, ticks embed their faces in your flesh, burrow in and hang on, eventually becoming bloated and even more repulsive as they gorge on your liquescent insides.
Not that I have ever had a tick on my own person (thanks be to Benevolent God), but the season has since begun whereby ticks are abroad and they enjoy nothing more than feasting on our hairy friends.
Waffle had his first tick of the year on Wednesday of last week and more likely than not, it won’t be his last. Even though Wednesday’s tick had a happy ending (Anna discovered it on his hairy face after he’d returned from a rummage in the grass and before the vampire had managed to latch onto his skin), it was a stark reminder that Waff needs another dose of his meds.
As with all other maladies, prevention is always better than a cure and for the most part, so long as Waff is topped up with his ‘Frontline’ on a regular basis, ticks tend to find him unpalatable. Sometimes though, when the Hound is in-between doses and when the ticks are abroad and unseen, they have been known to become attached to their hairy host – attached as in both senses of the word.
The upside of having two little humans in the house, who never leave the dog alone, is that they have become quite adept at discovering any foreign objects on the Waff, objects which require removing via a tick removal tool.
The other upside, of having the most placid dog in existence, is that even when a tick attaches to a tender part of his anatomy, the Hound is able to undergo surgery without any more anaesthetic than a few choices rubs and a soothing, “good boy, Waffie. Just you sit there and we’ll have this H of a tick off you in a jiffy.”
Ironically though, the bigger they are, the easier they are to remove. But if they’re big, chances are, they’ve been sucking for longer than is preferable.
Most often though, Waffle will have had his Frontline dose but the ticks still tend to attach. Then the little humans find the ticks and the tick tool comes out. It’s normally a fairly routine procedure. Normally.
The worst tick related incident played out last year when, once again, one of the little humans noticed that Waffle had something in the corner of his eye.
That something, of course, turned out to be a small tick which had just recently attached onto the very edge of skin next to Waffle’s eyeball.
The advisable method when removing a tick using a tick tool (a small hook-type device with a narrow slot which traps the tick’s mouth against the dog’s skin) is to slide the tool between the body of the tick and the dog’s skin and then gently rotate the tool until the tick comes lose.
You never want to just rip it off because more often than not, as the tick is embedded, you could rip off the parasite’s body and leave its head and teeth inside your dog. That endgame could potentially result in disease and that means a trip to the vet’s.
It is also advisable to dispose of ticks safely and even, to handle them with gloves. My preferred method of disposal involves folding the tick into a piece of kitchen roll and then dancing on the paper on the back step shouting, “Die, die, die!”
After the first few tick removals I would have examined the ticks following extraction but there’s only so many times you can look at what is effectively a horrible hump with teeth, before you begin to question your own faith in Benevolent God.
But the occasion when Waffle had a tick sitting in the corner of his eye like a tear, was as traumatic an experience as I’ve ever had with a pet.
With everyone in the house holding onto some part of Waffle and everyone making gentle cooing sounds, the surgeon (me) attempted to snag the tick beside the big brown eye, without poking said eye into blindness.
Easier said than done.
Poor aul Waff was for once, absolutely silent as the tool trapped the tick beside his eye. Not a whine. Not a wiff or a whinge. He simply laid back safe in the knowledge that these custodians of his water and dog food would come through against the nefarious vampire feasting on his blood.
It seemed to take an age, but in reality it was more likely mere minutes later until I was dancing on the paper shouting, “Die, die, die!”
And then Waffle received much love and attention as we all prayed that never again would we encounter a beast as hideous as a tick.
Until the next time, that is.
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