You know it kind of cracks me up – Marley is older than blogging - I had no forum for this essay before, especially since somebody stole the book title Marley and Me. This was written in present tense because it was an email to my sister-in-law Belinda. Before blogging, I still had my gal pal favorite reader Belinda!
We arrived in Tomball 5 minutes before Kris’s engagement shower started, all the food was out already and the Jordan sisters were gorgeously dressed…I dashed to a bedroom to change out of my jeans and my Green Eggs & Ham sweatshirt while Craig put Marley in Daddy’s back yard. As Craig was carrying our bags into Uncle Harvey’s house, he saw Marley walking down Daddy’s driveway. I guess there were still too many holes in Daddy’s fence…so Craig staked Marley (tied his leash to a stake, he didn't crucify him) in Harvey’s backyard, where unfortunately he, his water dish and his disreputable-looking toys were in full view of all the shower guests through the living room window…the guests could also hear him barking. After we and the guests noticed the large hole Marley was digging in Harvey’s yard, Craig took him down the street to Rachel’s house.
I asked, “Can’t you just put him in his crate inside my dad’s house?” Only then was I told, “Oh, I didn’t bring his crate…he’ll be fine without it, he can stay out at Rachel’s.” RIGHT. If Craig had just packed the crate, our lives would be different today. (Sorry to sound so ominous…rest assured Marley is still alive.)
For the next 24 hours any questions I asked about Marley’s welfare were treated as overprotective mothering. Finally I just stopped asking. Sure, our indoor, only-child dog was fine, spending an entire afternoon, evening, dark/cold/rainy night and chilly next morning with two big Labradors in a muddy backyard. Rachel reported that Marley was playing happily with Duke and Lily and that he had claimed a corner of the doghouse (really just a three-sided lean-to). “There’s straw in there, he can make a bed.” How cozy for him.
Although Craig went over to check on Marley a couple of times (but THAT wasn’t being overprotective, because it was Craig doing it), we didn’t pick him up until we were ready to leave town—he was caked with mud and we only wanted to wash him once. After Craig rinsed him with Rachel’s hose, he brought him into Harvey’s house for just a short time while I finished packing. Craig held him on the leash in the den and we didn’t let him get more than 2 feet from the sofa area.
Although Marley seemed only a little subdued at Harvey’s, he completely zonked out in the car. His eyes were open only about 10 minutes the entire drive back to Dallas. Marley's only movement was to change the positions he was curled up in on the back seat.
He seemed fairly OK back in Dallas, but as Craig articulated, “Something is not quite right.” I figured it was just that since Marley has such a boring life most days, something eventful like this really throws his equilibrium. I left Marley and Craig lounging on the couch and went to take a bath.
Next thing I knew, Craig was barging into the bathroom. “Sarah! Marley has bugs on him!” Something about being wet and naked made me think more calmly than usual (is this why they used to hose down people—maybe still do—in the loony bin?), and I said almost dismissively, “Well, go look at the flea products in the closet, you can give him a pill and maybe some Top Spot solution.” Then I remembered you can’t apply Top Spot the same day as a bath (it doesn’t get circulated through the oil glands effectively, or something like that), so I went out in my towel to supervise Craig. He was almost frantic (as close as Craig gets to frantic). “I was talking to Dad on the phone and Marley rolled over for me to rub his belly and there’s stuff crawling all over him, and his skin is all pink.” So Craig hung up on his dad and ran to get me (I’m the flea expert, I guess).
I told Craig to just bathe Marley and that I would call the vet the next morning to see how soon we could use the Top Spot. This was the best action plan I could come up with, dressed in a towel.
I went back to the bathroom to wash my hair and learned our wonderful water heater couldn’t make the stretch for a dog bath in one bathroom and a people shower in the other bathroom. I almost screamed as I rinsed my hair under the cold water…hydrotherapy was no longer very therapeutic for me, and I was becoming disenchanted with my home environment in general.
Back in the living room, Craig was carefully combing Marley for fleas. He seemed to think his best defense was to pull off as many as he could find with the comb. (This is kind of a guy’s technique.)
I asked, “Are you sure they’re fleas?” “I think so, but I’m not sure, the water is still draining in the tub.” (Duh!) I went and looked, and sure enough, Craig’s tub was polka-dotted with black specks. These are some healthy-sized fleas, apparently they have been well-fed on Rachel’s Labs. They must have wanted a change of scene, though.
I fed Marley his Program pill (which only keeps the fleas that bite him from reproducing, it’s kind of a long-term fix) in a piece of Velveeta. That was probably the happiest point of Marley’s day.
I also tried calling the nearest Emergency Vet, but they weren’t very helpful. “You might see what you can buy at the grocery store…no, ma’am, I don’t know what flea products are for sale at the grocery store. This is an EMERGENCY clinic, and we don’t generally deal with patients with fleas.”
We didn’t want to let Marley run round the house (although obviously the fleas can jump off him and travel on their own) so we put him in his crate for the rest of the night. He looked so PITIFUL behind the bars, and then he started making whimpering noises. Craig was trying to laugh it off, “Ha-ha, Marley’s in jail,” but I was almost whimpering myself, “I feel so guilty…it’s not his fault…he didn’t ASK to go to Tomball…” Finally Craig said, “Just don’t look at him,” so of course I had to look again… Big mistake, those big, sad brown eyes were turned right in my direction.
The weird thing is that Marley hasn’t even been scratching himself—that’s why we didn’t notice sooner. Maybe he’s just too exhausted to scratch?, I don’t know. I keep looking down at my ankles as I walk through the house, although the real danger zone will be in a week or so when the eggs hatch…did you know that a single flea can lay a thousand eggs? I spent a fortune on flea products last summer, and Marley didn’t get fleas, but unfortunately, I stopped using the products during the winter… I didn’t think about the fact that it’s never really winter in Tomball.
This has brought back so many bad memories of flea infestations with my ex-roommate’s dog that last night I dreamed Linda wanted to come back and live with us…she claimed the lease she and I signed in 1989 was still valid…and my ex-boyfriend was in the dream also!, I was trying to be friends with Jim and he kept trying to get romantic, ick!
(Sidebar: Every summer when Linda took her dog home to New York state, they left fleas behind--no dog host, so they sought out Sarah. She always wanted me to use something safe and organic but after I experienced fleas between my sheets and in my bathtub, I brought out the big chemical guns. Linda had asked me to save receipts for her and then she hit the ceiling at how much I had spent on Raid. It wasn’t the money, it was the fact that I had poisoned our home environment. I certainly hope that my use of Raid in the 1990s didn’t give Linda cancer…but it did get rid of the fleas.)
This was one of those rare Mondays I was glad to get up and leave the house in the morning, even if that meant going to work.
Craig left Marley at the vet’s for a flea dip, and we will spray the house again tonight. However, I’ve just realized that our flea sprays at home were purchased in 1995… I called Raid and they told me that products have a maximum of 3 years’ life after they are manufactured. Now I’ll have to track Craig down and ask if he can go by the store and buy some new spray…he’ll probably say what we already have is fine (“Raid just wants you to spend more money”) and act annoyed that I paged him again. He has to leave work early to get Marley, I can’t do it because I have a doctor appointment. So my contribution is to call Craig, call Raid (“My husband thinks we can spray your carpet spray while our dog’s in the house…is that really safe?”) and call the vet (they said the dip will last for a couple of days, and then we can use the Top Spot). I’m not sure my contributions are appreciated, though.
Uh-oh…should I worry that Marley left fleas at Uncle Harvey’s? Rachel’s other dog Audrey was at Harvey’s briefly too, maybe she can take the blame. What are the odds that Audrey DOESN’T have fleas?!
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