If you’re like most dog lovers, you probably know the small panic that comes from finding a roundish, semi-rigid nodule of some cheese-like material embedded in your dog’s fur. What is that, you think, rolling it between your fingers, feces? You put your face in close, and sniff: vomit? a tumor? ringworm? cheese? You put the tip of your tongue on it: it doesn’t taste like cheese.
Then, suddenly, you realize: it’s a tick! Gross! And you touched it!
How do you remove a tick? Most people, blinded by horror and disgust, lob a grenade at it and dive over the back of the couch. This is fine, but you’ll probably blast its body off and leave its head. The head can create an serious infection. So, like those little Asian boys you invite over to watch anime cartoons in your filthy apartment, the goal is to get them to leave with their heads still attached.
You can try shooing the tick away: Go, tick! Hya! Get on outa there! This never works. You can try sarcasm, too, but this rarely works.
You can try ripping his shorts off and wagging them in front of his face. “Hey, give them back!” he’ll scream, plopping his face out of your dog and flailing for his shorts. Then you throw his shorts out the window and – hopefully! – he’ll dive for them but miss, race to take the stairs, trip, lose his balance, fall down the stairs and break his leg. Then you can shoot him execution style. Voila! No more tick!
If this doesn’t work, try some talk-through counseling. Start by pulling a chair up to your dog and sitting in it backwards. Talk to the tick. Lean in close and listen to the soft, guh guh guh guh as he chugs away. Complement him on his new NASCAR tank top. Rub his back and ask how everything’s going, how the blood tastes today, etc. Try to establish a dialogue.
“Hey, buddy. Hi,” you’ll say, or something like this. “You’re going to get a tummy ache if you keep drinking like that.”
A pause. And then: guh, guh, guh, guh
“What do you say, ace? Could you quit gulping my dog’s blood through your big tube nose for a minute so we can talk?”
At this point, if you’re lucky, he’ll pull out and sit back, wiping dog blood from his face with the back of his hairy forearm.
“Thanks. Thanks, buddy. What’s your name, ol’ partner?”
“Hey, Owen,” (smile), “Owen what?”
“That’s a pretty name: Owen. It’s tough being a tick, isn’t it, Owen?”
Awkward silence. He’s just sitting there, breathing hard through his mouth, dripping with dog juice.
“We all have responsibilities, isn’t that right, Owen?”
“Sometimes we need to develop our own life force instead of feeding off someone else’s, isn’t that right, Owen?”
At this point the tick will probably shrug and lumber off down the road. When he’s out of earshot you can yell, “get a job, you loser!” or something like that.
This works well for small ticks on large dogs. What happens when a large tick gets on a small dog? There’s nothing more disconcerting than to come home and find your precious yorkie or miniature dachshund lying on the back porch, sucked as dry as a Capri Sun bag after grade-school soccer practice.
There’s an awful sound in the air, like the last bit of milkshake passing through a fountain straw, and right on top of your deflated doggie-skin is a grapefruit-sized, milky-colored blood-pillow. Tickus Horribilis, the giant tick.
What to do? First, you should reverse the flow. Gently squeeze the tick pillow until your dog starts to balloon up and stop when he seems sufficiently round (do not over-inflate). The tick, exhausted, will likely give up at this point and roll onto his back, squinting up at you, his tiny face as round and red as a German wandervogel in search of more weisswurst and marzipan.
“Kill…me…” he’ll whisper, his wire-rimmed spectacles cocked at a 45-degree angle. It’s the plea of regret, the regret only a parasite can know.
And you should. I suggest dropping a hunk of 2 by 4 on it. Or you can shoot him execution style.