Dodging Bullets and Creepy Crawlers

Roxy is a hunter. If you looked at her body, you’d say, “Nah, I don’t believe it.” She’s pretty puny with front legs about eight inches long.

Believe it.

Dodging bullets and creepy crawlers

She has been known to take down grasshoppers and the occasional mouse. In the beginning of the summer, she had been outside for quite a while. I became concerned. There were plenty of rabbits around, so I wasn’t too worried about a repeat performance with the Coywolf. In fact, I haven’t seen him or his kin around all summer. Instead, there’s been an owl, who (no pun intended) has hung out for months. Anyway, I worried Roxy’s radio collar’s battery had died and she was off gallivanting somewhere. It happened to be trash day.

I found her all right. She stood over something furry and freshly killed judging by the blood in the grass. A young rabbit. Euww! I ran inside for two grocery bags, picked it up and tossed it out. What could I say? Bichons are known for their mad hunting skills. I couldn’t punish her. I checked her coat, but she was as white as the pure driven snow. Hmmm. I wondered about the owls.

A few weeks ago, I found her in the very same place, right on the edge of her dogwatch system standing over her rabbit prey. The owl flew from the thick green canopy when I walked outside later that day. Aha! Roxy must have scared it off and stolen the owl’s dinner. Then I stole it from both of them and into the bin it went.

Dodging bullets and creepy crawlers

Flash forward two weeks. I returned from a quick trip to California and arrived at midnight on Monday. All I could manage the next day was a quart of black coffee and the newspaper.

There it was. An article about Tularemia. I had seen a sign posted at the trailhead last summer when I went on an epic waterlogged bike trip around the Boulder reservoir. It warned (and I paraphrase), “Contact with dead rabbits with the disease could cause high fever and swollen lymph nodes. It can be treated with antibiotics if caught early.” The article suggested we call animal control for any dead animals in the yard. If we insisted on removing them ourselves, we should use a shovel and cover our bodies with long sleeves and pants.

What??? I’d been in a t-shirt and shorts every time. It had been two weeks since the “incident.” I looked at Roxy. Her eyes were clear and she seemed to be her old high-spirited self. The rabbits must not have been infected.

Bullet dodged.

I took a nap in the afternoon and Roxy cuddled with me. I scratched her fur and found a speck of dirt. She must have rolled around while playing at the kennel. She needed a bath and a haircut, so I made an appointment for 10:00 on Thursday.

When I dropped her off, the groomer said, “It’ll take about three or four hours.” I returned home and caught up with writing. I planned to get a lot done since it had been a short week.

At noon, the phone rang. “I have some bad news,” she said.

I thought about the tularemia symptoms and wondered if she detected the disease somehow.

“She has fleas.”

Her words struck me like shrapnel. “No!”

“We found a few eggs. They’re just like specks of dirt.”

I just about fell on the floor. I flicked the egg I found in her fur onto the bedspread!

She would give Roxy a flea bath and give her some kind of treatment. In hyperdrive, I asked about a zillion questions and she finally directed me to the Internet. Of course, that’s always a reliable source. Ahem.

The top search was a first hand story about a lady in England who had an infestation problem of monstrous proportions. According to her, I needed to vacuum everything that couldn’t be washed and then repeat it every day for two month. She used flea powder everywhere. I had cancer thee years ago. I don’t want to be anywhere near insecticide.

I imagined how many times Roxy had run through the house shaking flea eggs all over the place. It grossed me out.

It took seven hours to do all the work. Is this what my next month would look like? I’d have no time for anything else. I went to bed that night exhausted and depressed about all the cleaning ahead.

The next day, I caught up on writing and blogging, and planned on cleaning in the afternoon.

The phone rang. It was another groomer from the same place. “I see that Roxy is due for a visit. Would you like to book an appointment?”

I laughed and said she’d been in yesterday. “She has fleas.”

“Oh, no.”

Her reaction added to my already heavy heart. “So I guess I’ll be cleaning every day so I don’t get an infestation.”

She explained that soap and water kills them. “She got the Advantix treatment, right? You won’t have an infestation.” She explained that the eggs stick to their fur and she wouldn’t have shaken them everywhere. I was somewhat relieved since I washed all the bedding the day before. Hopefully that  tiny little sucker I found in her fur didn’t roll under the bed…

“So is Advantix a repellant or insecticide?”

“Insecticide. Don’t worry, she won’t get bites from fleas, ticks or mosquitos. August is the last month for treatments, so you won’t have to come back until she’s ready for another grooming.”

Oh, God. Apparently, I will have a freakin’ bug bomb running around the house on four paws for the next month. I hate insecticide. At least she can’t be infected by anything and I don’t have to spend seven hours a day cleaning.

Another bullet dodged, sort of.

In the meantime, I’m reducing the size of her yard. Her dogwatch radio fence can be changed by the twist of a button.

She’ll be only hunting for a warm spot to cuddle.

You’re welcome, owls.

Owl Thanks You

Have you ever dealt with fleas or other pesky pests? Have you ever seen an owl?

55 thoughts on “Dodging Bullets and Creepy Crawlers

  1. Beautiful owl! We have one that will come by to visit every six to eight weeks (or more). I never see him/her, because she comes out at night, but I always hear her!

    Good thing I don’t believe in jinxing myself, else I’d be worried when I said that none of our cats have had fleas for as long as I’ve lived with my dad. WHEW!

    P.S.: I’ve seen AN owl once–it was a horned perched in a dead tree across the road. Might be the same!

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    • It may be depending on where you live. Ha!
      I hear the owls at night and in early morning, but have seen them in the yard several times during the day. They must sleep in intervals. Pretty cool how they turn their heads.

      Liked by 1 person

      • D’you suppose yours could be a screech or some other? AllAboutBirds.org says great horneds don’t come out ’til dusk: Great Horned Owls are nocturnal. You may see them at dusk sitting on fence posts or tree limbs at the edges of open areas, or flying across roads or fields with stiff, deep beats of their rounded wings. Their call is a deep, stuttering series of four to five hoots.

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        • It does look like a Great Horned Owl. I saw him perched on top of the trellis the other day, but I’m not sure why he’s out hunting. I wonder if it’s one of those Farmer’s Almanac things. It could mean a hard winter.
          Just looked it up and we are supposed to have colder than normal temps in December and January. Wooooo knows? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • They are Nasty! I had a boyfriend whose cat brought them in. I couldn’t sit in his apartment without getting tons of bites on my ankles. I think we’re out of the woods, but I’m still keeping one eye open, just in case…

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  2. We have both owls and rabbits hanging around here. I love the owls but the rabbits I could do without. I think the owls take care of a lot of the rabbits. Hope they don’t get sick on them. If I were you, I’d still keep an eye out for those coyotes. They’re getting very brazen. Good idea to shorten the range on Roxy’s collar. She’s such a sweetheart.

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    • She is a sweetheart! I haven’t seen or heard coyotes lately, probably because we are over-populated with rabbits. I could do without them too. Good think Roxy is as big as she is or she could become prey for the owls. It happens!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oy! This is certainly no HOOT, that’s for sure. Glad you’re both okay and it sounds like it won’t take two more months of cleaning, though. By the way, you slayed me with “who (no pun intended)”!

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  4. In Texas, we fight fleas constantly. They never have a winter kill. We have to spray the yard and also put on Ceresto (I think that’s how it is spelled) collars. (Advantex no longer works) We also have to flea comb them every day.

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  5. We have armored fleas in Louisiana. The come with kevlar vests and combat helmets. 🙂 Very similar to what John was describing. Our dogs a get a yearly injection and something like Advantix. You can also use Trifexis, which as the name implies, prevents three things.. fleas, heart worm and one other.

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    • Those are some fleas, you have there. I was pretty naive. I had no idea fleas were a problem here. I thought it was too dry and the winters killed them, although I knew wild animals carried them. Doh! 🙂

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      • Depends on your winter. You need at least three days of freezing ground temperatures to kill flea eggs. I would think you’d get that where you are, but ground and air temps are two different things.

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        • We definitely get those freezing winter months. I think she picked them up from those rabbits who keep them tucked away in their fur all winter long. They’re not getting the Advanitix treatment. Ha!

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  6. I’ve only seen owls in the zoo and fleas in circuses on ancient TV shows like this: https://youtu.be/r9BjN_GHIic In NYC, Susie, all I see are rats and waterbugs and fortunately, neither in my sanctum sanctorom. Earlier this week at The Grind, we had a fly. I killed it with the Design department’s swatter and thought, “I’m such a beast.” So is Roxy under house arrest for an entire month?

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  7. We got the same diagnosis for our dog when we took her in 2 weeks ago because she had diarrhea. All over our off-white Berber carpet. But that’s another story. She had fleas on her back end- farthest away from where we put the medicine, of course. We’ve been infested before and it was a nightmare! So far so good, though. I have a few little bites, but since I attract every passing spider or mosquito within 50 miles, I’m still thinking it’s not fleas. Please God.

    Great shots of the basketball owl!

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    • It’s so weird how I was in denial! I think I spotted a flea in her coat months ago and didn’t think about it. I might have gotten lucky since soap and water kills them and I probably gave her a bath. Sheesh! She lays on my bed all the time. Thank God we have a lot of hardwood floors. I’m cleaning just in case.
      I know what you mean about the itchy scratchies. Ever since she was diagnosed, my skin has crawled. Euwww!
      I saw the owl again a week ago, but missed the shot. He’s out at peculiar times since they’re supposed to be nocturnal. Must be storing up for the winter. Do owls do that?
      Thanks, Peg!

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  8. I have a 6lb yorkie who is a rat catcher at heart. He loves his toy rats the best, and shakes them vigorously to break their little (pretend) necks.

    Sorry about the fleas. I have 4 dogs and have been lucky to never go through that – knock wood.

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  9. Oh man, what an ordeal! Never a dull moment, huh? I don’t have four legged creatures in my house (we used to have guinea pigs) so I don’t have to worry about fleas, but I worry about bed bugs and lice all the time! My daughter has been traveling a lot AND she worked as a camp counselor all summer with young kids and there is ALWAYS lice. As to owls, Mr. B is an avid birder and we absolutely love owls! I wouldn’t mind one as a pet. LOL.

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    • It is never dull around here! Luckily we caught it early. The “bug bomb” is laying beside me right now!
      Somehow, we escaped those other nasty pests, so far, anyway. *whew*I hope you’re rid of yours.
      The owls are the coolest. They must be nesting nearby. I hear them at night and every morning, but have no idea why they’ve been active during the day. Hard winter ahead? I know you’ll hate this, but I’m hoping for a snowy winter! Ha!

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  10. Growing up it was never a dull moment – hawks, wild turkeys, skunks, a rabid badger, and with all the preventive care our one dog got heart worm (that treatment was not for the faint of heart – used arsenic). Poor Roxy aka the bug bomb!

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  11. Just be glad you live where you do – with cold weather that stops fleas outdoors. With baths, Advantix, clean bedding, and hardwood floors, you’ll be fine (Empty.toss the vac bag everytime you vac or they just live in the vac bags…we actually use a shop vac most of the time – no carpet at all though…too humid, musty, and flea potential.) We’ve managed to avoid infestations without yard chemicals for years.
    Love that owl!

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  12. Pingback: An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

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