Of Lice and Dogs

 Don't even ask. It was an awful day. Thank God it was sunny so the dog could stay outside all day. I'm still scratching phantom itches. Forte my large, hairy old and limping flat-coated retriever loves to roll in sweet smelling (to him) dead things. Like for instance the remains of that Pacific Sleeper shark that washed up in the back yard a while ago. Which is where we suspect he got the lice. (Things were hopping all over the skin the last time we saw it.) I thought Forte had some sort of seeds or burrs that he had stuck his nose into, until they moved. (He is not an outdoor dog. He lives with us, in the house.) Well, you can imagine the response to this yesterday morning. While I was shrieking, "they're moving, they're moving, help, oh help!" and hollering about the grand baby who was playing him yesterday, the other dogs, the carpet ("there are bugs in the rugs!"), my good husband quietly slipped into his rain gear and rubber boots and filled two five gallon buckets with warm water, ran to the store and bought three types of flea, tick, and mite killing soaps and sprays and said, "calm down, put on your rubber pants and help me." Luckily, Forte loves attention, even when it is negative. So he stood while we scrubbed and bathed him in the yard. A call afterwards to the vet in Juneau brought relief. (We don't have a vet in Haines.)  Dog lice don't stick to people, and they don't live in carpets. They die when they fall off the dog. (Still, dead lice in my house? Oh Lord.) There's a medication called Revolution which kills lice and keeps them off for a month, which the vet flew up from Juneau, and I applied to Forte and the so far lice-less Phoebe the terrier as a precaution. I didn't want to tell the neighbors. How embarrassing to be such a bad mother my pet has lice. (The thing is they seemed to erupt all of the sudden. I mean, the dog is never more than about three feet from me, and I hadn't noticed. Then he again, he was scratching a lot. I just figured it was the season.) But I also figured I would have really appreciated a head's up on these things, so I told one of the regular beach dog walkers when I saw him, and later saw another who said she found some on her dog, too. They look like flat grass seeds and they stick. (I also learned I am not alone. The vet said that the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel has lice shampoo and space to wash your dog there, as there has been an outbreak of lice in dogs and cats sometime in the not too distant past.) After Forte's bath and treatment and some antihistamine to calm him and stop the itching, he was covered with little dead lice husks, but had passed out in the warm sunshine from all the activity.The good news is that he likes to be vacuumed.  So after dinner I put the upholstery attachment on him and went out on the porch where he was whining to come inside and sucked those critters off for about an hour  as we watched the sun set. Then I let him back in. Although I did make him stay on his clean bed in the mud room, just to be safe.  It is a wonder how such a crisis can consume your day. (And that I managed to write two obituaries while tending to all this. Death does not wait for lice treatments.) Today, if the weather holds, I'll drag the rugs outside and give them a good shaking and airing, just in case. I mean, Sunday is Easter. We don't want the Easter Bunny to get lice, do we? Are you itching yet?



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