Tara has had a grand total of two ticks in the entire time we have had her. Not bad considering that we live in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by land in which deer frolic and leave behind their little buggy friends.
She got the first one within the first twenty-four hours of us getting her and immediately made me feel like the worst dog mummy ever!
Here's some photographic evidence of my complete failure to parent my puppy:
She had that sucker (no pun intended) for a couple of days because to begin with we thought it was just a wart and that she'd had it when we got her. Then it started getting bigger and she got all sad and lethargic and we realised what it was and took her to the vet sharpish.
That wasn't a happy day for Tara because not only did she get a tick removed, she got stabbed in the back of the neck with a microchip as well. She may have peed all over their floor in revenge.
And for the past four and a bit years we've been blissfully free from ticks.
Until Saturday, that is.
We'd gotten up, pulled on our welly boots and gone for a muddy walk with Tara and my camera up towards Calvary Pond, except we realised that getting back down might be a little tricky so took a detour to come down by a safer route and cut out the pond entirely.
Tara was having a whale of a time. I was happily snapping anything that looked remotely photogenic. Mr Click was enjoying himself. All was good until I tickled Tara behind the ear and discovered a little hitchhiker.
It was Tara's Tick 2.0.
And here's a little guide to getting rid of a tick.
Step 1: Panic
Freak out a little bit because there's some small beastie currently burrowed into the back of your dog's ear. Realise that it probably got there the day before when you let the dog roll in the grass and leaves because it was making her so happy. Feel guilty, ashamed, etc.
Step 2: Remember the Vaseline trick
It's something about how ticks bury their heads in the flesh and breathe through their bums so smearing Vaseline over them stops them from breathing and makes them fall off.
Step 3: Realise that making a tick fall off your pet means that potentially there could be a no-longer-attached-to-your-pet tick floating around your house
Freak out a little more.
Step 4: Decide to try it anyway
And start hunting your house for a tub of Vaseline.
Step 5: Realise you don't actually have any Vaseline
Despite the fact that those little pots seem to multiple like traffic cones in situations where you don't actually need them.
Step 6: Substitute Vaseline for lip balm
It's practically the same thing anyway. At least, it is once you've shaved some off the end of a lip balm and smeared it around a bit.
Step 7: Rub the Vaseline substitute onto the tick
Freak out afterwards when you realise you've basically just been rubbing your fingers all over a tick's bum. Wonder if it enjoyed it.
Step 8: Check regularly to see if the little blighter is still there
Due to the aforementioned no-longer-attached-to-your-pet tick thing.
Step 9: Decide that the thing needs to come off before bed and start googling
Tip: Don't Google 'tick on dog's ear'.
Step 10: Discover that the best search string to use is "how do I remove a tick from my dog?"
Answer: Follow the instructions on the WikiHow page.
Step 11: Gather tools
In my case this was a clean pair of tweezers, antiseptic, a bunch of paper towels and a bowl of boiling water (because I didn't have any alcohol to waste on killing a tick).
Step 12: Psyche yourself up
Give yourself a pep talk. You can do this.
Step 13: Go in for the kill
Have someone hold the dog steady and reveal the affected area. Hold the tweezers in one hand and with the other separate the fur so you have clear access. Don't squeeze the body! Grab it as close to where it goes into the skin as possible and pull it straight out without twisting or bending it.
Step 14: Dispose of the tick
Drop it into alcohol, or the boiling water, to ensure that it is well and truly despatched.
Step 15: Treat your dog
Dab some antiseptic on the affected area and double check that there's nothing left in the wound. Give them lots of love, cuddles and treats. Tell them what a big brave doggy they were.
Step 16 (optional): Cry like a big baby because you're so relieved it's over
Uh, yeah. This may have happened to me. Ticks are pretty much flesh eating spiders; this is a very big deal for me!
We've survived without any ill-effects and I'm feeling pretty confident that I could do this again if it was absolutely necessary. Not that I want to any time soon, so you can bet Tara will be getting less rolling in the grass time from now on!