Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I can just about cope with Cleggs, find flies a mild irritation and have learned to put up with midges in almost all circumstances. Spiders hold no fear for me at all; indeed I positively welcome them into my home.* But there's one nasty little critter that still gives me the willies. Even just thinking about it makes me feel itchy and unclean. And that, my friends, is the tick.

No, no. Not the
comic book Tick. He's OK, if a bit earnest. It's the blood-sucking arachnids that really freak me out. So you can imagine how pleased I was to find two of the bastards clinging tenaciously to Haggis this morning.

Actually it was the Horse Doctor who found them, although it wasn't hard to see them they were so bloated with labrador blood. But she's a girl, so I had to deal with the little bleeders. Fortunately I have many tick-removing tools, but as it happened I didn't really need them. As I was twiddling one easily off, the other dropped itself to the floor, gorged beyond sense and too fat to do anything more than waggle its legs around like a cartoon animal that's just run off a cliff.

Most people would probably squash a tick to get rid of it, but you may have realised by now that I am not most people. And besides, squashing these nasty critters would have meant drowning the kitchen floor in an inch or more of blood. So I scooped them up in a plastic bag and then took some photographs. Well, you need a record.

Then I flushed them down the sink with lots of very hot water. Did someone say black pudding?

I've had to deal with ticks in the past, of course. The DevilDog was always getting them, back in his younger days when he liked to hurtle through the bracken without a care in the world. But either his blood was toxic to them, or his fur was short enough for me to notice them earlier. Either way, I've never seen one quite as big as the pair Haggis was wearing.

I have to brush Haggis daily, otherwise I'd be drowing in yellow hair. Yesterday I took him out onto the lawn mid-afternoon and attacked him with his favourite wire brush. It gets deep into the fur and pulls out pretty much everything going. I didn't dislodge any ticks then, so either they were very small, or not there at all. Either way, getting to this size is pretty damned impressive in just over twelve hours.

This afternoon, whilst I was making my way from the basement back up to the landing where the current day's activity is hiding salmon pink walls under several layers of useless white emulsion, I noticed something not unlike a dropped sultana on the floor. Stooping down lower revealed it to be a third tick, once as big as the other two but now slightly squashed. I thought it was dead, but on closer inspection I could see those little legs waving around, desperately seeking yet more blood to gorge itself on. It followed its chums down the sink and into the septic tank.**

I'm going to have to keep an eye out for the little buggers now. The last thing I want is them lurking in the carpets, or climbing up the curtains to leap onto unsuspecting passers-by. I've had a tick latch itself onto me before, and I can tell you it's not nice.***

*in the same way you'd welcome a burglar wielding a sawn-off shotgun. 'Come in why don't you. Help yourself to whatever you want.'
** hopefully dead, but you never know. They might survive down there, breed and mutate into giant, monstrous creatures that can suck a man dry in a minute. Shit! What have I done?
*** though at least we don't get Lyme's disease over here. Well, not much, anyway.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am never ever going to Wales. Ever. I'm going to start avoiding dogs as well. And quite possibly beards.

July 15, 2009 8:52 pm  
Anonymous StevenG said...

My dad and I hit a moose in our truck a couple of years ago and when we went out to look at the damage I noticed that the Mooses fur was just crawling with ticks. There must have been thousands! It still makes me shudder.

July 16, 2009 12:35 am  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Ticks are icky!!! My cousin is in late stage Lyme's Disease thanks to the little buggers! Fortunately, Sirius Black has escaped them so far...

July 26, 2009 6:32 am  

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