Thursday, July 20, 2017

“Uh-Oh! I know!”

“Uh-Oh!  I know!”
Copyright 2017 by Lori-Ann Willey

Despite owning a few dogs and cats over the years, Paul and I never had a flea problem. Well, that isn’t necessarily the full truth. Sometimes, a pet owner  visits with their dog and leave a few fleas behind, but we always nipped them quickly. Sometimes, just to be precautionary, we’d even pre-treat the cat before another dog arrives. Our cat, AhChoo isn’t an outside cat, so we’ve been able to avoid fleas up until a few days ago when I felt a flea jump onto my arm shortly after crawling out of bed. Huh? We had last treated AhChoo about a month prior, so we were due again, apparently.

My parents bred, raised, and trained higher end beagles, both for rabbit hunting and for trials, so I know what a flea looks like. I also know their bite. If they must bite a human, they tend to like their feet or ankles. One night, I woke to a couple itchy spots on my ankles. My first thought? Fleas, but upon asking Paul the next morning if he was bitten, he said no. As a result, and not convinced, I blamed the mosquitoes, though there were no signs of them inside the camp. 

This year, for the first time since the 1990’s, my body is not so tolerant of mosquito bites. Many years ago, a single mosquito bite sent me to the hospital with anaphylactic shock. After four days in the hospital, I was released with a stern warning from the doctor to avoid mosquitoes for the rest of my life, because that episode may be my one and only warning. 

So, given that I’m 51, my body is changing whether I like it or not! Like it or not, too, I’ve been forced to stay inside far more than I’d like during “mosquito season”. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of rain in our area of the state this spring/summer, so that not only increased the mosquito population, but it extended it, too. Man! Are they hungry this year! Yesterday, in 80-degree temperatures during the heat of the day with bright sun, sweat dripping off my nose, the mosquitoes were relentless when normally, they’d be in “hiding” until the evening hours. Each “bite” fire-like! I assumed they only felt that way because my aging body is hypersensitive to them this year. Logical thought, right?

Paul and I treated the cat after I saw a flea jump onto my arm. Honestly, though somewhat befuddled, I was thankful it was a flea and not a mosquito. Although the cat doesn’t think so, we dread the process as much as he does. The treatment comes in a small liquid-filled tube that is rubbed onto the back of the neck. My job is to hold the cat while Paul applies the treatment. Problem solved. Or, so we thought.

If the weather isn’t rainy, or the biting insects intolerable, my morning routine is typically the same. I roll out of bed, make my bladdah-gladdah, make coffee, check for messages, and then, bring my coffee outside to enjoy the sunrise, fresh air, and beauty that appears in the cove before me. At the far end of that labyrinth sits beautiful Mount Katahdin -Maine’s tallest peak. If I could have any part of the day to call my own, I would select the time frame between pre-dawn to the first hour after sunrise. 

It usually isn’t long before our resident chippies and red squirrels visit me in hopes for snacks. Sometimes, they are often scurrying about the deck before I crawl out of bed, so it isn’t long before they are at my feet the second I step outside. Routine tells them to be patient until I get situated. To them, my “Wait!”, “No!”, “Careful, this coffee is hot!” are phrases they know well. For many years, I’ve allowed them to crawl all over me, even atop my head and tunnel throughout my hair if they want. Even if it means that from time to time, I untangle a Chippy paw from my hair. The red squirrels don’t tunnel much, but they do like to do a balancing act atop my head. Oftentimes, they are not there for very long as my slippery hair does not make for very secure footing.

It had only been a couple of days since we treated the cat when I felt another flea jump onto my arm. I was quite perplexed! How? Then, it dawned on me! "Uh-Oh!  I know!"  The fleas must be jumping onto my hair during my playtime with the critters. I busted a gut and told Paul, “I gave the cat fleas!” Not once have I ever noticed a flea on any of the critters. Rarely any ticks either, but they are the only possible explanation. Do you have another?

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