Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tick Magnets

Who wouldn't love these puppies?
You all know that I think Golden Retrievers are adorable and oh-so-sweet. I have learned the hard way that I'm not the only one who feels this way...and I'm not talking about other  humans. I'm talking about one of the nastiest critters on the planet - ticks! Not deer ticks, mind you (though they are super nasty too), but brown dog ticks. Those little suckers will likely outlast cockroaches after the world ends in a few days. 

When I discovered a tiny brownish-red sesame seed crawling on my husband's white pillow IN OUR BED last week, I FREAKED out. I flew down the stairs in a flurry faster than a chick in a horror flick! My husband (the Calm One) was surprised, but not really bothered (it was HIS pillow, remember?!). We checked the dogs and didn't find any more. We just had DirecTV installed, so he reasoned that the tech might have brought the tick in from the bushes outside when he installed the equipment in our bedroom. Okaaaaay, but that means we have ticks in our YARD! "No worries," reassured The Calm One. Our 3-year-old Golden, Makani has been on K-9 Advantix and our 11-week-old Golden/Lab puppy, Cali just started on it a couple of weeks ago. In other words, "You're overreacting, woman. Chillllll." 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, since I know what it takes to get rid of them), this is not our first experience with brown dog ticks. Our first Golden, Baja never had fleas OR ticks. We didn't even have him on medication. When we adopted Makani as a puppy after Baja passed away, we didn't even consider putting him on flea/tick meds. MONUMENTAL MISTAKE! When Makani was about 4 months old, I was petting his head when I discovered a lump. On closer inspection, it looked like a fat gray mole. Grossed out, I showed it to Rob, who declared, "It's a tick." "A tick?! Really? I've never seen one before." He suggested we check Makani for more. Oh, there were more all right...DOZENS more. Then we started noticing them in the house. Once I started researching ticks, I discovered that one female can lay up to 5,000 eggs AT A TIME. They lay eggs after filling up on a dog's blood. Eeew. Eeew. EEEW! So, I called an exterminator and began what would end up being SIX WEEKS of eradication treatments. It was a flippin' NIGHTMARE. From that point forward, Makani never missed a dose of K-9 Advantix. 

We had a quiet tick-free few years, for which I was soooo thankful. I attributed it to the K-9 Advantix and the blessedly cool winters. This summer, I did find a tick crawling on me after being outside in my driveway. There is a stray cat who hangs out in our yard, harasses Makani through the window at night, and leaves poop around the yard for Makani to roll in before a 2 1/2 hour car trip with the family. I figured the cat may have brought the ticks back. We had the yard sprayed and Makani was on K-9 Advantix, so I wasn't overly worried. We didn't see any more ticks, so I thought that the scare was just that...until about a week ago.

We started finding ticks on the dogs and (even worse) a few in the house (always where the dogs had just been). Since both dogs were on K-9 Advantix we couldn't understand why they had ticks ON them, but figured we were safe because K-9 Advantix not only (SUPPOSEDLY) repels and kills ticks (not looking so good in that respect), it makes them infertile (oh, how I prayed that at least that claim is a fact), so at least if they feed, they can't lay eggs.

Ticks at various stages of "fullness". YUCK!
Rob called the exterminator and the soonest he could come to our house was Monday (four days later). His company was THAT busy! So, we carefully checked the dogs, picking ticks off of them as we found them, squishing them and dropping them into a cup of alcohol (apparently the only way to kill them aside from setting them on fire).

We spent the weekend checking the dogs and scouring the house, checking baseboards, behind pictures, between the wall and the ceiling - all places that ticks like to hide indicating an infestation. I held my breath as I lifted each picture. All was clean. Maybe they were coming from outside, but I was thankful that the inside was being treated anyway.

Sunday morning, we were doing a routine tick check on the dogs. Cali was clean. Makani had a couple small ticks on his head. All of a sudden, I noticed what looked like a gray jellybean next to him. I said, "ROB! What IS that?" Yup, it was a very fat, very happy tick. Now I know how the phrase, "full as a tick" originated. GROSS! We have no idea where it had been feeding, but we were VERY thankful we found it. 

Today, our house was treated thoroughly, both inside and out. The exterminator told Rob that it appears we don't have a bad problem at all (a far cry from our first experience), indicating that (hopefully) the ticks were coming from outside (thank you, Lord!). Still, I am VERY glad that everything has been treated and life can hopefully get back to normal. 


If you are a dog owner and you've never had a tick problem, count your blessings! Ticks suck (literally and figuratively). Protect your dogs, my friends! We will be switching to Revolution and hoping that it is more effective than K-9 Advantix. (The exterminator mentioned that ticks do become immune to some medications in time - NICE!) I don't blame the ticks for loving my dogs, though. I love my little tick magnets too!

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

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