Thursday, August 11, 2011

A True Tale of (Un)Ticks

Chopper is the first dog I have ever had as an adult. We had a family dog when I was very young but I was certainly not responsible for him in any way. From what I remember the dog was pretty easygoing - he would get mad when he didn't get hair bows at the groomers and stole toys from my grandmother's dog - but other than that I don't remember much. I certainly don't remember having to worry about ticks - maybe there are no ticks in San Francisco.

Anyway Chopper almost immediately made me worry on a daily basis. The first few days I had him he threw up twice. The first time in the car ride home and the second time at 2 a.m. on my birthday. At that time I was still queasy at the thought of dog throw up and had to fall asleep on the couch with a cold compress on my forehead and Chopper next to me to get over it. At this point I can have doggy throw up cleaned up in five seconds flat - ten if its on a rug.

Then we went for a hike one day and he ended up slamming himself into a rock - I thought he must have had internal organ damage. He was fine. Then one night I was petting him and I pulled something off him. It was a tick - granted I had never seen a tick and was not aware that's what it was when I was pulling it off or I would have had a heart attack. We survived - that time.

A few weeks later I was again petting Chopper and noticed a tick in his belly. I tried pulling it like I had the first time but nothing happened. Then I saw another one. And another one. His whole belly was full of ticks. I kept trying to pull them off and they stayed on. I was by now hysterical so I called my friend Carrie who immediately came over to see about Chopper's tick-infested belly. She lives a half hour away so I made myself a margarita to calm my nerves (really it was a shot of tequila in some limeade -that's what I had).

Carrie is from Georgia and had seen ticks before - on her pets, on her brother and in the woods - so I trusted she would be able to solve this issue. We flipped him over and she couldn't get the ticks out either. She lit a match and blew it out and put it near his belly and they didn't come out - we tried this a lot. By now Chopper's patience had worn thin and he was not having any more poking or prodding or flames coming near him (to this day he doesn't like flames - we had to stop putting candles on his birthday cake as he would run away from it). I decided I would take him the groomers in the morning to deal with it and went to bed.

Early the next morning I dragged Chopper down to the groomer. Chopper was on to us though and wasn't letting that guy near him either. He didn't' think he saw any ticks but couldn't be sure.

So a few hours later I took him to the vet. This was our fourth visit in probably two months. The vet looked at Chopper for about five seconds gave him a treat and said to me: "Those aren't ticks those are his nipples." What!?!?! "You know male dogs have nipples just like male people - they aren't used for anything but they are just there. See how they are in a pattern and the same on each side?" Well then I did but the night before they had not resembled any sort of pattern (even before the shot of tequila) they had just looked like ticks on my puppy. I guess you learn something new every day.

Chopper's been tick-free ever since but once in awhile he will give me a dirty look when I'm rubbing his belly.

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