The Taser's Edge

In Which Prudence Joined the Crips
June 1, 2008, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

     Last Sunday, Holly, along with a friend from work, and another friend’s wife took an assortment of dogs hiking on a trail in north Durham.  The stately Prudence was the tallest, towering over a pair of tiny Yorkshire terriers, but just plain taller than the mutt named Lucy.

            I was saved from going because I had to go to work.  Prudence, however, was breathing hard and laying around being extra lazy for days.  Also, she had ticks.  I might not have thought to look, but as it turned out that the Yorkshires had dozens of ticks apiece after their walk, we thought it best to check over Prudence as well.  She is built for tick removal—white with short hair—and it seemed that most ticks were intelligent enough to note her features and stay away.  At least most ticks stayed away.  As for the handful that remained, we didn’t know what to do, so we turned to the Internet.

            As a child, when I attracted a tick or two, removal was an intricate process.  Mom and Dad were for some reason very concerned that the tick’s head not be left behind in the skin.  As I recall, they would light a match, heat a needle, and then use it to discomfit the tick so it would reverse and be plucked safely, easily, and whole from the skin.  I might be confusing this process with the similar process of removing a deep splinter.  In that case, the needle would be heated for sanitation purposes, and then would be used to dig.  It was not pleasant.  I seem to recall one time, in the case of a tick, that Dad decided a soldering gun might be a more direct process.  The intense heat killed the creature before it knew what hit it, but the child escaped unscathed, save for the tick’s head left in his or her back.  I cannot remember which of us it was, but he or she did not die.

            Last Sunday, when we discovered the ticks, this childhood memory was running through my mind, competing with thoughts of Holly coming down with Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  I made a mental note to remember this tick incident for some future doctor’s visit about a mystery disease that Holly would surely contract.  In the meantime, we consulted somebody’s website and they told us just to tweeze the ticks off.  It quickly became my job, and it was an easy victory.

            One week later (today) Holly is still fine.  Her readiness to be done with her first hour students has nothing to do, in fact, with ticks.  Prudence, however, remains the greatest victim.  While the ticks I removed last week were tiny, the one I noticed on her leg today was not.  It was well-bloated, and when I removed it Prudence yelped and bled, in that order.  Bled, as they say, like a stuck pig.  We had to improvise a dog tourniquet, because I was once again walking out the door for work.  (Fortunately that only happens three times a week.)

            But this story is not about me, and it’s not about Holly, and it’s not even about Prudence.  It’s about that tick.  You’ve no doubt seen a “Hang in There” poster, with a cat desperately clutching a tree branch.  In Prudence’s case, we had a tick holding on for dear life by burying its skull in dog meat.  The difference is subtle, so you might have missed it.  When the cat is rescued, it will go on with its life.  Even if it falls, it will likely land on its feet and keep on walking.

            For the tick, however, life at its most essential is just “hanging in there.”  There is no life after “hanging in there.”  It was born to attach itself to a sweet woodland creature such as Prudence, and then to gorge itself until its innards exceeded its outards in a bloody explosion.  From thence it would have proceeded, if the ancients are to be believed, to a paradise populated by owner-less Yorkshire terriers (a paradise also known as Yorkshire Terrier Hell).  This tick, however, must have had low self-esteem or been on drugs or perhaps she was a Freethinker.  I just pray she made her peace with herself or the tick gods as the tweezers clamped down.

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