Olivia was scratching. The dog was miserable. She was so consumed by itching that it interfered with barking which is one of her joys in life. We knew it was bad when in the middle of the night two utility guys did an emergency fix on a power pole in the street, which was the perfect occasion for a righteous indignant round of barking. And she just crawled under the bed and scratched.
Of course the more she scratched the more we itched. The dog owns the house. She owns the bed and the couch and all the soft comfy chairs, pillows and blankets. Everywhere we go she’s been. We suspected the house was jumping.
But what to do? We live in a mostly chemical-free zone. “Do not spray” signs are as ubiquitous as organic apple stands. Natural is the way. Pesticides are poison. But so are blood sucking teeny vampires attacking my dog.
We had to do something but we found that when it comes to dogs and fleas there is no one expert. A friend said to sprinkle brewer’s yeast on her food. Another said to shampoo her with fresh lemons. Another suggested garlic. Meanwhile the dog looked at me like an allergy sufferer stuck in a field of pollen and who was being offered a nasal wash instead of Claritin. When could we get to the hard stuff?
She’s not really an all natural dog. She’s been getting flea medicine rubbed into her curly cockapoo coat since she was a pup. That seems to be one of the problems. The fleas that covet her had become resistant to her kind of flea potion. They just said “La de da. That old stuff?” and dug in for a feast.
Every paradise has its pests, I guess. Visiting my sister in Massachusetts this summer I was attacked by a gang of midges which swarmed into my nose and ears while I stood taking sunset pictures at the beach. Now my dog had fleas.
A bad season for fleas, everyone seems to agree, although no one knows exactly why. My friend, a more experienced dog person, advised using a chalky powder, an organic flea destroyer. But when I went to buy it at my local farm supply store the clerk said “No, no, you don’t want to breathe in that stuff.” Instead she sold me a bottle of her personal favorite flea and tick shampoo.
Then my husband read the warning label on the shampoo which made it sound like we’d all be dead by morning and so I called our veterinarian’s office who said nix on the flea shampoo.
I hoped for a reprieve from the mobile dog groomer who came to give Olivia a haircut and a peppermint all natural shampoo. But halfway through, he reported that she was infested and likely so was our house. He said we should bomb.
Now, a flea bomb is a scary process. They want you to close your windows and strip your beds and cover all dishes and stay outside while your house fills up with something nasty enough to wipe out all swollen mama fleas and thousands of eggs.
The vet’s office agreed. Better bomb. Our neighbor, whose dog was equally tormented, suggested a less toxic flea fogger. We set it off, shut the door and fled to safety in the backyard. I felt like Ava Gardner in “On the Beach.”
We have now given Olivia a rosemary bath, which along with the lemon and garlic, has her smelling like a salad. She’s eating her yeast and we’ve changed flea treatment brands. She’s pretty much stopped scratching, and, to only our relief, her bark is back.
And that is what they mean by the dog days of summer.