JD Allinder

They’re Here!

In Posts on June 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

The extreme heat broke mid-week. Wednesday was mild and windy – felt like I was on the coast. Jane and I spent most of the afternoon and early evening outside. We puttered around the garden, repotted some plants, and took a couple of long walks around town and down to the river. I love mild Michigan days when I can open all the doors and windows, air out the house, burn incense all day (my flavors du jour are dark chocolate and green tea), and move seamlessly between indoors and out. There’s something very life affirming about blurring the boundaries of interior and exterior spaces, and the ease with which that’s possible is one of the things I love so much about Michigan.

On Thursday, Annika and I took Jane and Duke to the 1,100-acre Crosswinds Marsh in New Boston. (I’ve written more about the property here.) I try to visit Crosswinds at least once per season, and we’d been talking about getting out there to witness spring’s explosion. We usually begin with the six-mile outer loop that perimeters the property, but this time we decided to take the four-mile inner loop because it cuts through the heart of the marsh and provides greater access to water for the dogs and shade for all of us. Some parts of the trail are boardwalks over wetlands, and others are open, grassy spaces.

It was a beautiful walk, but we were too late for the Chorus of the Frogs, which disappointed me. (I must remember to visit in May next year.) The dogs were warm, and Duke was especially energetic, but there were plenty of streams, creeks, and puddles for cooling and drinking. Shortly after the start of our walk, Annika and I both found ticks on our clothes. By the end, we’d each discovered three or four, and this put a serious damper on our fun, so much so that we headed home early to bathe our dogs in flea/tick shampoo. During clean-up I found four ticks on Jane and one lodged on the back of my thigh, and I’ve still not been able to shake the itchy scratchy heebie jeebies.

I moved to Michigan from the South in 1995. I didn’t see a tick until about 2005 or so, and that was a single parasite on Georgia’s neck, which I removed without incident. (Fleas have not been a problem, either. Georgia brought them home just twice in her lifetime, and even then there were just a few that were easily cleared up.) Jane and I found 20 or so ticks on us early last summer, and it looks like this year’s going to be the same. The ticks have arrived. (This one-page PDF from the Michigan Department of Community Health offers an overview of the five varieties of ticks terrorizing my adopted homeland.) Growing up in the South and dealing with the ticks definitely gives me perspective (Michiganders really freak out over them), but their sudden ubiquity is seriously disappointing and severely limits Jane’s and my exercise options. (Reason #57 why summer sucks.) I don’t treat dogs proactively for parasites (save deadly heartworm) because I feel they, like humans, get enough toxins in their systems from myriad sources. I want their life experience to be as natural and organic as possible – from untethered walking/running to raw, whole foods. After our infestation this week, though, I did treat Jane with a flea/tick preventive called Natural Defense made with peppermint, cinnamon, clove, and “other ingredients.” It certainly makes her smell good, but I’m not convinced it’s going to work. I also bought her a Preventic Tick Collar, which has generally positive user reviews, but I’m afraid to put it on her. Its active ingredient is amitraz, and I’m frankly much more afraid of that than I am ticks.  It’s so potent that I’d be cautious when handling my dog after putting the collar on her. We’ve made it this long without pulling out the big guns, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. When Georgia was young, a trainer gave me the excellent advice to give her a full-body exam every day. I followed this suggestion and have continued this routine with Jane (who’s much easier to inspect with her short coat). It not only keeps me physically aware of my dog, but it serves as a pleasant, daily bonding experience that subtly reinforces the hierarchy of our relationship (which needs to be regularly addressed).

As an aside, Annika and I were wondering if the tick enjoyed its own horror film. The only thing I’ve dug up is this 1993 grade-z schlockfest called, appropriately, Ticks. I’d say a new nightmare needs to be conceived. Perhaps I’ll pen it…

  1. Both the girls wear their Preventic collars 24/7. Unfortunately, they can’t even go out for a potty walk here without tracking ticks in. Seriously, one 10 minute walk and I’d find one on Bella.. I can’t use the topical meds because Bella has a reaction to them.

    I really like it!

  2. Thanks for your feedback on Preventic. I still haven’t used it on Jane – just been checking her over a couple of times a day. So far so good. For the most part we’ve stayed out of the tall grasses and deep woods, though not entirely: she occasionally leads me off course and I don’t have the heart to stop her.

    Your girls are gorgeous! Are you in Florida?

  3. Yep, we are in Florida right now. Living with family out in the boonies.

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