I left Brody in the backyard away from the kids while I stood in front of a ceiling-high stack of unpacked moving boxes, cursing
myself for not labeling one of them "OVERFLOW ECTOPARASITE TREATMENT MEDS" in large block letters. Eventually I found it:
a box with at least a six-month supply of myriad tubes and collars for just such an occasion. Tick meds in hand, I went to
plunk them on Brody.
When I came back into the living room, I found my daughter giving the wide-eyed neighbor kids a lecture about ticks using
all the dramatic tricks she learned in theater. She was projecting. She was using her hands to illustrate their arachnid ways.
She was telling them, with great relish, about the one other time Brody had a tick last year and how traumatized she was by
the whole experience.
In short, she just ensured that the entire neighborhood would now know us as the Nasty Tick People.
I sat at home mortified for the next day. When the neighbor girls came by with their dog, they stood apologetically by the
front door and said my kids could come for a walk with them, but Brody could not—so their dog wouldn't get ticks.
"Is he on meds?" I asked about the now 13-week-old pup.
"No," they said. "He's too young."
I bit my tongue, knowing full well that when their dog goes for a walk down the very same trail Brody did and ends up with
a tick, we're going to shoulder the blame for it. In a flash, I saw my new life flash before my eyes. Denied a contribution
to the PTA bake sale. Well-coiffed blond women scooting their chairs ever so slightly off to the left when I sit down next
to them. Neighbors squealing in horror and crossing over to the other side of the street when we run by.
My husband thinks I should talk to the other mom.
I have not met this neighbor. I have no idea if she's the "shake it off" kind of person or the kind who would say to me, "It's
fine; don't worry," with a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. I decided it was best to take the "ignore it and just
tell the kids to tell her Brody's on meds" approach.
"Did you talk to the mom and tell her you're a vet?" my husband asked.
"Somehow," I said, "I don't think that will improve the situation." Do I want to be the Gross Tick Neighbor or the Bad Vet
Neighbor? Don't answer that.
Ah, well. Onward and upward. Lesson 1: I'll be moving on to topical flea and tick preventive in the new casa. Lesson 2: It
made for a good opportunity to talk to my daughter about "stories not to share on the first day at the new school."
In other news, the little girls came by today with their puppy, bearing the tell-tale greasy spot of a recent ectoparasite
treatment. My methods of getting people to get up to date on treatment may be unconventional, but they are very, very effective.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, known as Dr. V. among her readers, is a regular contributing author for a number of well-known publications.
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