Attack of the Fleas

I have a confession.

It’s truly embarrassing, and a result of me being a cheap and forgetful pet owner.

Two weeks after we moved into our house, we had fleas.

Don’t be deceived.  They were not cute.

Last October, Zubrus had been scratching himself for weeks.  We blamed his irritation on dry skin, which he’s prone to get every fall and winter. We thought his scratching attempts were cute.  If you’ve ever seen a two-inch legged dog attempting to reach an itch, you might’ve laughed, too.

Stumpy legs.

One night, I had a phone date with my best friend, Rachel.  Somewhere along our conversation, I asked her how her two cats were doing.  Rachel became silent.  And then she said, “Kirsten… I have something really humiliating to tell you.  J.D. and Elliot had fleas.”

As I listened to Rachel’s story of how she and her husband had spent weeks cleaning every surface of their home to eradicate the fleas, I glanced over at Crash, who was furiously gnawing the top of his front paw. And I gasped in horror.

After the call, Evan and I cautiously approached Crash.  We flipped him over onto his back.  I slowly parted a tuft of fur to expose his pink belly.  Sure enough, two black bugs scurried away from the site.  I screamed and danced away in disgust.  When I calmed down, Evan mentioned, “check the bed since Crash and Zubie slept on there last night.”

I did.  There were several black dots sprinkled across the white sheets.

Thus began our war on the fleas.

Over the next week, we soaked, scrubbed, polished, and vacuumed every inch of our house.  Every article of fabric was tossed into the washing machine — sheets, comforters, towels, rugs, pillows, dog beds, clothes, jackets, and shoes.  Zubie and Crash were given multiple baths a day, and subjected to hour-long flea combing sessions.  Doors were closed to quarantine the dogs and the fleas into the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  We spritzed the laminate floors, carpets, couches, and mattresses with a flea-obliterating concoction that was as potent as a nuclear bomb.  Thankfully, it didn’t kill any of our fish.  Or us.

This operation was treated as severely and critically as an Ebola outbreak.  The only thing that prevented me from dousing bleach everywhere was the fact that I didn’t want to whitewash the floors.

The worst part wasn’t cleanup.  It was the fact that I felt like the worst dog owner in the world.  My poor dogs had been suffering and I had ignored them.  What I thought was just dry skin resulted in sores and hair loss.  They looked like they had mange.  And all I could give them was an ointment that the veterinarian prescribed.

That’s why I was on a rampage.  I was going to Jack Bauer each and every last one of those terrorists.  

This was a very traumatic experience that, at the time, if you merely mentioned the word “flea,” I would’ve glared back at you like this.

Well do ya, punk?
But now… looking back on the experience, however, I just have to laugh.  Of course I overreacted.  Of course the situation was hyperbolic and a figment of my own neurosis.  But it taught me a very valuable lesson:  Never forget to use Frontline.
Pet owners of the world — there you have it.

3 thoughts on “Attack of the Fleas”

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