A Great Gardening Day Delayed in the Wake of Two Cute Strays
What is the inner function which causes the hand to unconsciously move to an unseen, unfelt spot on the body and begin to pick at it? No noticeable sensation, no direct command of the mind - yet it is an action of higher intelligence. One for which I am very grateful.
I picked, and grabbed hold, not having a feeling of picking off an extension of my own skin. That satisfying sense of completion when its removed. Then the slow horror as the mind begins to wonder - what is that which was attached to me?
I remembered-- the dogs. Adorable loving strays, bright intelligence in their eyes, hopeful joy wagging their tails. Animals smelling of skunk, running wild through the woods and fields and ticks. TICKS!
So I captured the little speck, like a tiny crumb and placed it on a white paper under the light of my desk. So tiny, I had to find the magnifying glass. The word “seed tick” came to mind. But I thought that seed ticks were smaller than this little hard-shelled dot. Weren’t those legs seeming to stick out from the oval lump? Yes, I think it was. And I’m glad that it was removed so easily, not ingrained, imbedded or really stuck too deeply into my neck. Gone now, flushed away.
Normally I am very careful about bugs, how did this one get to me? Through the very cute strays that appeared today, opened my heart, and let the tick get under my skin.
The dogs were first spotted through the garden-facing windows. At first I thought she might be a fox with a short body, reddish fur, fluffy tail, and up-pointed ears. She was eagerly sniffing the ground as she wandered around the garden fence. Her friend, a beagly-looking mix with a white and black mottled coat, ranged through the field. Next time I looked, Foxy was settled down, curled up as if at home, near the door to the greenhouse.
Gingerly I opened the door to the deck above her spot. Usually I expect a stressful response from a stray, but she heard my movements and looked up with her tail eagerly waving, and jumped up to greet me. They both came to me like I was a favorite playmate, their joy wagging them, wanting to jump up and lick, with unbridled expectancy. Oh dear, I couldn’t help putting my hand on their heads, responding lovingly.
I knew they’d be carriers of bugs, and they’d been too close to a skunk fairly recently too. But their joyous loving beings could not be ignored. I wanted to keep the puppies. I wanted them to chase away the skunks, hedgehogs, snakes, rats, mice and armadillos, and keep me company around the yard. I could hardly let those little girl wants come through when my adult was cataloging the responsibilities. Shots, flea & tick combing, training, caring, poop patrol, water, food, oohh - there’s so much already on my to do lists.
Food is a really big issue. Many people around here are letting go of pets as they can’t afford to feed them - maybe not even themselves or their families. As the economy tanks, and supply lines fray, would we be able to get food for them? They are less likely to be vegetarian than us. I’m only growing vegies, not ready for the farm animal protein cycle of work. That is, chickens for eggs and meat, dog to protect the chickens, rabbits to feed the dog, cats to catch the mice that like the chicken coup. More grain to grow for everyone, and I would be a slave to my desire for protein meals, and a slave to the needs of my dog - which I wouldn’t want to touch because of insects.
Another awareness came which tipped the scales away from having a dog, when I saw the beagle-mix standing on top of my open compost bin, helping himself to the half rotten produce. Yich. I took big sheets of cardboard to cover the compost piles. I knew I wasn’t ready to have dogs. We like a simple, unstressed quiet peaceful life - which is not what dogs are about.
Then came dog noise. I had given them water and enjoyed my little fantasy of giving them the loving care they needed and their wonderful hearts deserved, when neighbors drove by and the barking noise began. I shut up my heart as best I could and let the little dogs know that NO was the word for the day. GO was the other word. It broke my heart to say it and try to mean it.
I’m sure they could tell I was giving them mixed messages. I had to go back inside so I wouldn’t be in range of their wide-eyed exuberant loving joy. I missed out on a warm and cloudy day which would have been perfect for weeding the garden, opening some ground or starting another project in the garden, because I couldn’t face their desire and my own. So I worked inside, my spirit sagging with sorrow. Later in the afternoon I noticed that they were gone.
I missed Foxy then. Now I know the other one’s name, Bobby McGee. He’s lookin’ for that home and I hope he finds it.
And I found the tick they left with me, soaked my fears of ticks off in the bath, and all is peaceful quiet here again. And I have a bitter sweet story to share.