I’ve had experience with ticks; too much experience. I fostered a dog a couple of years back that was covered in ticks. When I picked her up from the shelter she was so dirty and smelly I hated to put her in my car. Instead of taking her home straight home, I took her to my favorite groomers and had her professionally bathed; they cleaned her up and picked off about 30 ticks. After that I had to check her daily for weeks to get rid of the babies. Now when spring arrives I make sure I start my regular tick checks on my current pets. I use the tweezers method below for removing them; but I’m always on the outlook for another method; so I was really excited when I saw this posting about easy tick removal on Facebook this week.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

When I find advice on-line that sounds too good to be true I Google it; which is what I did as soon as I saw the liquid soap advice. Unfortunately, according to Snopes.com the above claim is false.

This is the method I use to find, remove and kill ticks:

How to find ticks

Run your hands over your dog’s body, feeling for pea-sized lumps. If you feel something, spread his fur so you can get a close look at the skin. Ticks can attach anywhere, but common spots are the ears, head, neck, shoulders, and between the toes.

What you’re looking for: Tear-shaped bodies with eight legs. They can be as small as a sesame seed before a meal, or, when engorged with blood, about as large as a pea. They can be brown, black, tan, or reddish.

If you find a tick attached to your skin or your pet, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market (I’ve used The Tick Tool ™ shown below and love it), but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

The Tick Tool

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin.  These old tricks can actually make matters worse by irritating the tick, causing it to expel disease-carrying fluids into your dog (not to mention the danger of burning your dog with a match.)

How to remove a tick (from CDC website)

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Tick Removal image


If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Kill the tick

Once you remove the tick it’s important that you dispose of it in a way that keeps it from attaching to anyone else. Drop the tick into rubbing alcohol to kill it. These hardy buggers can survive being flushed down the toilet or drain. Squeezing the tick with your fingers isn’t recommended, as the fluid that comes out can cause diseases.

  1. Fill a small jar with 1/2 cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. The alcohol level must be deep enough to submerge the tick.
  2. Drop the tick into the jar of alcohol to kill it. Remove any additional ticks and drop them in the jar as well.
  3. Place the lid tightly on the jar. Keep the ticks for a couple of weeks in case the host becomes ill as a result of a tick bite. The dead tick could help a physician or veterinarian confirm the cause of illness.

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Further reading:






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Help my dog is missing!

It can happen in just a mater of minute, friends arrive at your house, doors are opened, greetings exchanged and while you’re not looking Sparky slips out of the yard and off on an adventure.

In my case, I was shoveling the driveway and letting my dog enjoy bouncing through the snow drifts. One minute she was in the yard, the next she was gone. Thankfully I could follow her prints in the snow and found her one block away with a family that had leashed her and were going to have her picked up by the shelter. Calling me would have been nice, since my dog had tags on with my number on them, and maybe they did but since I was outside shoveling I didn’t get the phone call.

She had only been gone minutes, I was calling for her, and if they hadn’t tied her up she would have come to me. But they didn’t know if she had been out for minutes or hours, so leashing her and contacting animal control probably was the right thing to do. If I had not found her when I did, she would have spent the night in the local shelter and they would have called me the next day to pick her up. I would have spent a worried night, but she would have been safe and warm.

In a perfect world dogs would not leave their yards unless accompanied by their owner on a leash; but we don’t live in a perfect world, be ready in case of emergency.

Before a dog is lost:

  • Every dog needs to have a collar with 3 id tags attached: one showing current owner phone numbers, another indicating rabies vaccine is up to date, and their local license id. If your dog ends up at a shelter, they will use this information to alert you and with a current rabies id tag your dog won’t receive an unnecessary vaccination.
  • Get your dog micro-chipped and keep the chip contact information up-to-date.
  •  Have a current photo and description available to make a printable missing dog flyer and for posting on the internet.

After a dog is lost:

  • Search your neighborhood and alert your neighbors
  • Print up flyers – including dogs name, photo and how to contact you
  • Take flyers to your local shelter, vets office, pet supply store, dog park, grocery store, any place you can think of that people who care about animals will see it and possibly help
  • Go to your local shelter every day to see if your animal is waiting for you there. Shelters will try to contact owners based on dog license, id tags and microchips, but if the information they find is out of date, they don’t know how to reach you. Please realize, owners will be required to pay a fee to reclaim their dog from the local shelter. These fees are necessary to help defer the cost of caring for your pet.
  • File a report at Lost dogs of Wisconsin.org  http://lostdogsofwisconsin.org/report/
  • A longer list of things to do can be found at FindFinder.com http://www.fidofinder.com/find-your-lost-dog.php

Dog finders

  • Check dog for id tag – Call the number on the tag – leave a message if possible
  • If no tags, take dog to a vet or shelter to be scanned for a microchip – if a microchip is found you can go to http://rfid-usa.org/ to help you locate the owner
  • If you choose to foster the dog while you look for the owner file a Found dog report  at http://lostdogsofwisconsin.org/report/
  • If you are unable to foster the dog take him to your county shelter who can properly care for him while giving his family an opportunity to locate and claim him

I hope your dog never goes missing, but knowing what to do and that there are people out there willing to assist you can make this situation manageable.

Internet resources:

Lost dogs of Wisconsin Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/findfido

Lost dogs of Wisconsin website http://lostdogsofwisconsin.org/

Lost dogs of Illinois website http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/

America’s National Lost & Found Pet Database http://lostfoundpets.us/

Fido Finder Lost Dog Database http://www.fidofinder.com

Two Dogs Are Better Than One

I recently read an article that advanced the theory that having two dogs (or three or more) is no more work than having one dog. I disagree, but only because I have dogs that need grooming (often) and I choose to groom them myself. If I had dogs that did not require frequent grooming I would “somewhat” agree. In my opinion, the time requirement for multiple dogs varies based on the ages of the dogs.

When you have one healthy adult dog, you have to set time aside time for his basic needs; time to feed him, walk him, take him to the vet. With two healthy adult dogs you still need to feed them, walk them and take them to the vet, so it really doesn’t take more time unless you decide to vet them on different days, (of course the vet visit takes a bit longer if you take them in at the same time).

The time requirements change if you have a puppy, a senior or a special needs dog. Puppies require extra time for bathroom breaks, training and burning off the puppy energy so they don’t destroy your home. Senior and special need dogs often require time for medication and perhaps a massage.

There are some great benefits to having more than one dog:

  • Older one trains younger one – It took me months to get my first puppy house-broken. My second dog Cadi was a senior I adopted from a rescue. She already knew she should relieve herself outside; I just needed to learn her body language so I knew when to open the door. When we got Chopper, Cadi was still in our home and when she went to the door, he followed. She relieved herself in the yard, he did too. It didn’t take long and he had the routine down just right.
  • Keep each other company – Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their family leaves them alone all day. When there are multiple dogs in the home, they have someone to play with during the day and don’t get so lonely.
  • Double the love – What can I say, having two dogs greet me at the door every night is great. Having them both try to sit on my lap while watching TV, well, that’s a bit of a challenge, but I love all that love.
Cadi & Chopper

Cadi & Chopper sharing mom's lap

Protect your pets from the candy collecting goblins

Chopper and Dusty

My boy in his ThunderShirt posing with his fearless sister.

Trick or Treat time is right around the corner, and while it’s great fun for kids dress up and collect candy, it can be a nightmare for many pets. Strange looking beings ringing the door bell and shouting loud greetings can send your skittish doggie pacing and drooling , while your scaredy cat hides under the bed.

Many cats will find a good safe hiding place and stay there until the “guests” stop coming, but some dogs will bolt out the door and take off into the night (or afternoon, depending on your neighborhood).

Here’s my friendly advice. If you have a pet that is sensitive to all this holiday activity, please be considerate and put them in a safe place while the goblins are about. Shutting your pet in your bedroom with a bowl of water and a favorite toy or two will make her feel better and keep her safe.

My male dog is terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms, so I purchased a “ThunderShirt” for him. When he’s wrapped up tight in his stylish shirt he is still nervous, but not terrified. I plan to put this on him while the trick or treaters are on the prowl. I’m also hoping for a nice fall day/evening so I can set up my lawn chair in the driveway and meet the kids before they ever ring the bell. This way my dogs are disturbed less and the kids get their treats faster and move on to the next stop.

As a bit of extra protection you should but a collar on your pet that includes an id with your phone number on it. Even if you don’t usually keep a collar on your pet in the house, at busy times like this it’s best to be prepared for the worst. If your beloved pet does slip out you have a much better chance of getting him back if the person who finds him knows who to call. Without an id your pet could wind up spending the night in a kennel with a bunch of other frightened animals.

With a little planning, you can enjoy handing out treats to the little beggars without traumatizing your furry family members.

WARNING: If you have little goblins bringing home treats, don’t let them share with your pets; chocolate is very toxic to both cats and dogs and Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in a variety of sugar-free and dietetic cookies, mints and chewing gum is proving highly toxic, even fatal, to snack-snatching dogs.

Three days off

Wednesday 10-7-09 I had Mohs Surgery to remove some Basal cell carcinoma from my right cheek. I had a quick consultation with Dr. Griego before the surgery. He told me that my biopsy indicated that my cancer had an irregular structure to it, sort of like tenicals on the bottom side. because of this and the location being so close to my eye, the MOHS method of removal was recommended. Dr. Griego also noticed a growth on my nose that looked suspect. He took a biopsy from the nose and removed all the diseased tissue he could see from the cheek. I was sent back to the waiting room while the lab checked out the removed tissue. The nose biopsy turned out to be another Basel cell growth. Fortunately Dr Griego got all the cancer  from the cheek on the first try so I didn’t have to have any more of my cheek removed, but I will have to go back at the end of the month and have the growth removed from my nose. Dr. Heinz, a plastic surgeon, closed up the wound and the surgical tech hid the stitches with sterile-tape, I was given instructions to ice my cheek for the rest of the day, take Tylenol for any pain, and no exercise for three days so I wouldn’t start it bleeding again. I was also told red heads like me need to keep out of the sun, which is not going to be an easy thing to do here in Arizona. I told the doctor I would wear my baseball cap or visor (I have a new one that’s really cute) religiously and use a good sunscreen. He reminded my that I need to protect my ears too, they are very susceptible to this type of cancer, so I guess I’m going to have to find stylish hats with brims to protect not only my face but my ears and neck as well. Anyone know where I can find hats size small or extra-small?

I hope I don’t gain back all that I’ve lost while I’m recuperating, but I am following doctors orders and taking a few days off from the yoga and bike riding and pool exercising. Actually, the pool exercising may be done for the year. The pool temp is now around 70 and to me that feels very cold, but who knows, if the air gets warm enough I may want to be in the refreshingly cool water.

 Yesterday I wished for something stronger than Extra-strength Tylenol as I surfed the web, wrote a use case, proofed the Maddie’s Project Volunteer Manual and kept checking the mirror to see how discolored my face was getting. The swelling and color weren’t too bad, but my skin felt like it was stretched way to tight and really hurt. Carly arrived around 3 pm so I took a break and watched her run around the house and yard with my dog Chopper. Carly is a tiny Wheaten terrier with a lot of energy that I’m dog sitting until Tuesday. Just watching her run around is exhausting. I’ve been trying to get some pictures of her and Chopper together to share with you, but she is not very cooperative.

 Today when I woke up to multiple dogs barking I could tell my right eyelid was somewhat swollen because it wouldn’t open as much as my left. A quick glance in the bathroom mirror confirmed my suspicion, my lower lid is VERY colorful and slightly swollen. I put on my cool gel eye-mask and rested till it was no longer cool then got up for the day. I miss doing my morning stretches, but since my stretches involved putting my head lower than my heart I don’t think that’s a good idea yet. I feel much better than yesterday, but I look much worse.



  Ever since I was laid off, I’ve been considering doing some volunteer work. Last week I took the plunge and applied to assist at Maddie’s Projects Adoption Center and they accepted my application. I visited with the Volunteer Coordinator on Monday and we decided to schedule me for the 6 to 8 shift so I will still be available to interview and ultimately work, during the normal business hours of the day. I have my volunteer training session at Maddie’s Project Adoption Center this afternoon. I hope I don’t scare my trainer 🙂

I better sign off and go ice my eye one more time before heading out into the world.