It was all very funny when the dog scooted around the carpet on his butt, his hind legs straddled astride in the air like a gymnast flying over a vault.
“Hey Mom, check this out,” Sarah says. “Look at Finn! It’s hilarious.” It was hilarious, for the split second before reality hit.
“Why is he doing that?” Sarah asked. “Is he scratching his bum?”
Uh yeah, that would be it.
“I bet he has worms,” I say. “Grab his leash for me, please.” Within minutes of heading outside, Finn obliges me with evidence of his condition.
I hustle Finn back to house, leaving him in the garage while I hurry inside to call the vet, then sprint around the house gathering all the bedding, every blanket and toy that might have crossed Finn’s path. We’ve had this dog for all of three days and he’s go worms already? You’ve got to be kidding. Having done battle with elementary school head lice, ring-worm (courtesy of my step-daughter’s kindness to stray kittens), and even a deer tick, carefully extracted from my husband’s abdomen with a pair of tweezers, I am a veteran of parasite warfare. Make no mistake: if there is a woman equipped to deal with emergency house-disinfection, that would be me.
I’ve never had to do it with a brand-new dog in residence, mind you.
The cleaning mission will take a few hours, so I relocate Finn to the backyard where he can enjoy fresh air, grass under his feet and, with any luck, a few moles. I tie him to a 25 foot line in the backyard, with a giant bowl of water, but he howls immediately as though he’s being tortured. Oh man, the neighbours are not going to appreciate that. I shuffle him back to the garage, set him up with food, water, chew toys and a blanket to curl up in, then steel myself to ignore all further howling. Surely he’ll be fine in there. I dash back into the house, set the Roomba vacuum into action in the upstairs hall and drag the central vac to the family room. I lean against the door-jamb for a moment, feeling the buzz of my morning coffee ebbing away. This is beginning to feel like interval training.
I assess the laundry, a stack so massive that I resort to stuffing it into oversized garbage bags and high-tailing it to the coin laundry-mat up the street, the one advertising Big Bertha Washing machines: 8 regular loads at a time. Between cycles, I speed home to vacuum and wash floors. By two o’clock, the whole house has been thoroughly dewormed. I’m exhausted.
The punch line comes later that afternoon, at the vet’s office.
“This type of worm isn’t actually transmittable to people,” the vet explains. “It arose from Finn’s having been bitten by a flea, and it is species specific.” In other words, I didn’t have to clean and deodorize the entire house.
“Well, that’s good news,” I say with a sigh. Finn looks at me and cocks his head to one side. I smile at him, rub under his chin. It’s a good thing they made you cute, I think. And as an added bonus, I’ve got a really clean house!