I can’t stand this itching. It’s making me crazy. I don’t know what is wrong with my skin, but it does not feel good, and no matter how much I scratch, the feeling that something is chewing on me won’t go away!
Momma seems to be having the same problem. She rolls over in the grass and tries to scratch her back. But like me, there just doesn’t seem to be any satisfaction in the movement.
“Drat!” she says. “We have fleas.”
“Fleas?” I scratch behind my ear. “What is that?”
“They are little bugs that bite our skin. They are very hard to get rid of.”
“Where did they come from?”
Momma looks at me sadly.
“I think I brought them home. Remember when you went on vacation to the beach and I stayed behind at Bonnie Belle’s?” Momma sighed. “I’m pretty sure Bonnie Belle had them at her house.”
“So how do we get rid of them?” I scratched at my other ear. “They are making me crazy.”
“Well, we have to let Trudy and Jack know there is a problem.”
“Just follow my lead.” Momma headed inside the house with me close behind. The first thing we did was go into the living room where Trudy and Jack were watching TV. Olivia was at a friend’s house.Momma sat down in front of them and nodded that I should do the same. Then she began to scratch like crazy. I did the same.
“Um…Jack, what are they doing?” Trudy asked.
Jack leaned forward. “Either it’s some sort of new dachshund dance or they’re scratching as if their skin is on fire.”
Trudy got up and came over to us. Momma wagged her tail and rolled over on her belly. Several red, puckered bumps could be seen there.
“Uh-oh,” Trudy said, touching one of the bumps gently. “We’ve got a problem, Jack.”
“What is it?” He moved closer.
“Fleas. See these bumps?” she pointed. “They are chewing up Schatze’s skin.”
“Oh, man,” Jack grumbled. He picked Momma up and started looking through her hair. “Yep. Look. I see one.”
Trudy pulled a tiny little dot off of Mommy. I couldn’t quite see what it looked like because it jumped right out of her fingers and disappeared in the carpet.
“What a pain,” Jack said. “Not only do we have to treat the dogs, but we’ve got to treat the house and the yard.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Oh, yeah. Treating the dogs isn’t enough. Fleas have a life cycle that is frightening. If you don’t treat everything, the fleas will keep laying eggs which will hatch bring more fleas. It just repeats over and over,” Jack said.
“How did Oliver and Schatze get them?”
“Probably from the dog next door. We’ve got to get our neighbor to treat their dog, too.”
“This is just like the time Olivia got lice. We had to tear the whole house apart.”
“Honey, this is the animal equivalent of lice,” Jack said. “Let’s call up the vet and see what they recommend we use on the dogs. I know some treatments are harmful to puppies of a certain age.”
I listened to this conversation with great interest. So I had fleas, huh? I trotted into my crate for a few moments of privacy. As I examined myself, I saw one of the offensive creatures hopping in my fur. I growled at it.
“Get off me stupid flea,” I ordered, but the flea didn’t pay me any attention. Instead, it kept right on hopping along as if it didn’t have a care in the world. I reached over and bit at it, but only succeeded in biting myself.
Even though my skin felt itchy, I allowed myself a short nap. As I snoozed, my dreams were filled with images of huge fleas with pointy sharp teeth. I kept trying to fend them off, but they overwhelmed me!
I guess I must have been whimpering in my sleep, because soft hands began to stroke me and I heard Trudy say, “Easy boy. Everything is going to be okay.”
Bath time was even more horrendous than usual. The flea shampoo Trudy bought at the vet smelled as pleasant to me as rotten garbage. However, I did notice the itching stopped fairly quickly. Momma and I were both scrubbed head to toe and rinsed off. This was followed by a thorough ear cleaning, not one of my favorite things, but if it meant the fleas would die, I was for it this one time. Then we were rubbed down and brushed with a special comb. I kind of liked that part!
After that Jack and Trudy decided to divide and conquer. Trudy tore apart the inside of the house while Jack tackled the outside. Bedding, towels, clothes—all were thrown into the laundry machine. The vacuum cleaner was brought out and soon its roaring sound filled the house as Trudy attacked every place a flea might hide. She even vacuumed my crate and Momma’s little dog bed.
“Take that, you awful fleas!” I barked as she vacuumed. “Now will see who’s in pain!”
“Stop that barking, Oliver!” Trudy shouted over the noise of the vacuum.
I was just trying to cheer her on. Oh well. I contented myself with lying in the middle of the floor as she vacuumed around me.
“What’s going on?” Olivia asked as she came into the house. Her little face was covered in strawberry jam which I obligingly licked off for her when she picked me up.
“Oliver and Schatze have fleas.”
“Remember when you had lice?”
“It’s sort of like that. Only fleas affect dogs instead of people.”
Olivia looked down at me, clearly worried. Then she put me back on the floor and took a step away. “Lice are awful.”
“I know. So are fleas.”
Olivia scratched her head. “Um, can people get fleas?”
“No. Not like dogs do. But we still have to treat everything in the house. Remember how much you hated having lice, how itchy it was?”
Olivia nodded, her eyes round with seriousness.
“Well, it’s sort of the same thing for dogs. We have to be really aggressive about getting rid of them. Here’s the thing, sweetie. Dogs may only have a few fleas on them, but there are tons more living in the yard or the house.” Trudy gave her a tired smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll get them.”
Olivia nodded and then headed outside. I followed her and together we watched Jack, cut the lawn. He waved to us and after a few minutes, the lawn mower was turned off.
“Did your mother tell you what’s going on?” He called out, wiping the sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief.
“Yep. We’ve got fleas.” Olivia said. “What are you doing?”
“Just like the inside of the house, we have to take care of the outside, too. I’m trimming the yard and raking up the leave so that the fleas don’t have any place to hide. Fleas don’t like tidy yards.” Jack smiled at us.
“What about that chemical stuff? Can’t you spray something on the lawn?”
“I could, but that might be dangerous for Oliver and Schatze. They are both curious dogs, and I’m afraid they might go sniffing around the places where I put the pesticides and then get sick. Stuff like that is very bad for dogs.” Jack squatted down and rubbed my ears. I wagged my tail. “Maybe if we didn’t have such nosey little dogs I would do that, but I don’t quite trust Oliver to keep out of trouble.”
“Is there anything else we can do to help the dogs not get fleas?”
“Actually, yes there is. We need to talk to the vet about switching their heartworm pill to one that also prevents fleas from being attracted to them.”
Vet? Did he say the V word? Oh man…
Sure enough, the next day Momma and I were taken to the vet. He checked us over carefully. To my great joy, he did not give me any shots. I was so happy that I managed to wag my tail at him. He gave me a nice scratch around the collar as he explained to Trudy what would happen next.
“Okay, I’m going to switch you to a different brand of heartworm pills. This one should help prevent fleas, but you might need to keep checking the dogs for the next couple of weeks until you know you’ve gotten the infestation taken care of,” the vet advised.
At home, Momma and I were given one of the new pills that tasted a lot like a tasty treat. I didn’t feel any different or anything, but I sure was glad to be taking something that would help keep the fleas away.
Ever since our baths, my skin had felt a whole lot better. I headed into my crate and discovered that even Mr. Fluffy Wuffy had been given a cleaning. It smelled like Trudy had washed him in the washing machine. Darn! It had taken a lot of chewing and rolling on him to get that old panda to smell just right in the first place. But at least he was flea free.
(…to be continued)