Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Little and Somewhat Neurotic Dog

This morning, I bent over to give my dog a little pet, when she whimpered as if I had struck her.

Now, I had not touched her at all. I had not knelt on her tail. I had not pinched her fluff under my knee as I lowered my great hulking frame to the ground beside her. Nothing. In fact, I had not come within even inches of her.

So understandibly, I was perplexed. I gave her the love she wanted, since she needed soothed after her shock. Then I went over her nose to tail looking for some burr that might have poked her, a tender spot that might have come from frisbee chasing. Nothing.


So in the end, I pet her, calmed her down, and laughed a little at her to myself, before tucking her back into her little doggie bed with a chicken treat to make her feel loved.

Which is probably the reason she whimpered in the first place.

Darcy is a big baby. That's just a fact. She cries for attention, feels better when she gets it, and remembers what she had to do to make us give her her way. She's been this way since she was a puppy. It's the way her mind works. And I wouldn't mind at all, if it didn't make me wonder when she was really hurt and when she was just limping when we're paying attention, so we give her treats.

I have witnessed that with my own eyes.

Darcy worries. She thinks she's really gravely injured when nothing's wrong at all, and when something is wrong? She crawls behind the sofa and won't let us look at her. That's how we know it's real.

This morning reminded me of a little freakish thing my girl does that other dogs that I know don't do. It comes down to paranoia, something my family has in vast amounts, if I am any example.

So here you go:

This year has been a bad year for ticks.

The country dwellers among us know it to be true; they are everywhere and in great numbers, enough that I see them from time to time, something that never happened before.

And I have a long-haired dog, so we delt with ticks last year too, though less of them.

Last year Darcy learned that tick medicine keeps her happy, so she sits still for her medicine. She also learned what tweezers meant. They now freak her out, because we used them to de-tick her fluffy self. And we found this out in mid-winter.

Mom had a splinter. So we pulled out the splinter tweezers (we have special ones) and I sat down with Mom to get her splinter out for her. And Darcy freaked out.

No! Her little doggie brain screamed. Not Mama! She can't have a tick! They're horrible! Let me nose-bump her and run around her and between her legs like this is an agility exercise. Let me herd Laura away from Mama, to protect Mama, since she needs it. Let me sniff the finger in question! That will save her!

We had to stop trying for the splinter, because Darcy kept jumping up onto Mom's lap, and when she stood up, into her arms. Shelties have springs.

But this year it got far worse. Darcy found a tick in her bed, and she must recognize the smell or something, because she became so freaked out that she avoided that bed like the plague from that moment on. She also started her very own Tick Campaign, involving her nose and any flat surface she could reach.

She starts with herself. Sniffing first the black spots on her paws and then her legs, then all other places her nose will reach, she sniffs. Once she has deemed her body clean of tick infestation, she moves on to the carpet. In the family room, in fact almost everywhere, we have carpet with little tweedy flecks. Darcy thinks all of these are ticks and sniffs them each in turn before calming down enough to sit. When that is safe, she can relax.

But never in Paul's room. She remembers finding a tick on the floor of Paul's room once. Now it is unclean and she will not stay in there, not for all the tea in China.

We can tell she's found one when her ears perk up and she angles her little head down, so the back of her neck gets extra poofy. Sometimes she will also lift up one paw, as if to protect it from whatever is on the ground so close to her, since she can't keep both out of harm's way. Then she will watch whatever it is until someone notices she's doing her little doggie freak-out stare, and we dispose of the tick for her.

And she won't rest if she thinks she has one. She will orbit the room, staring at us, until someone has gone over her with a fine-toothed comb to keep her tick-free. And on the one occasion I had one on my shirt, she stared at me until I noticed it.

Stupid ticks. Ugh. That was freaky-gross.

Does anyone else have a dog that does something like that? Is my Darcy angling toward a Laura-adjacent place in the funny farm?

I could use the company.

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