There goes the neighborhood (again)

After several months of leading the kids around our new and blessedly quiet neighborhood hoping to find some children running about, the spring temperatures have brought them out of hiding like little hibernating bears. We have both two little girls and a little boy within the block, and now the kids self-eject from the house as soon as their little feet can take them in the morning to go bike riding. As an added bonus, the little girls have a 12 week old Golden Retriever who comes by on his walks and visits us.

I like the springtime temperatures as well. It’s gotten Brody and I out of our own winter hibernation and back on a “great outdoors routine,” exploring the trails that run around and behind the neighborhood. We saw a deer bound by on the trail last week. It was beautiful.

Photo Apr 04, 11 51 41 AM

There was even a muddy creek to wallow in. Life is good.

Several days after that last hike, the girls were over and playing with my kids and with Brody. The younger one was petting Brody and said, “What’s this bump?”

I knew before I even looked.


Ticks are sporadic in San Diego, and the only other time I ever found one on Brody was last spring, when we were also hiking in a backcountry-ish area. He went on tick prevention while we were hiking that area, then when we stopped heading that way, I went back to Trifexis (which is an oral flea and heartworm preventive and works just great for what I needed.)

I always do a once-over after hikes to look for parasites or foxtails or any of the sorts of things that can annoy a Golden, but Brody is hairy and rather than just put on tick preventive like I should have, I figured that so long as I wasn’t seeing anything, I might as well finish off the product I was using.


Grasses, check, deer, check. Bad vet who should know better, check.

And of course- OF COURSE- it would be the neighbor kid who found it.

A part of my brain whispered to me, “lie. Say it’s a sebaceous adenoma. She’s six, what does she know?” but I figured it could be a teaching moment, so I told the truth. What a sucker. The news of course sent the girls screaming with hands waving in the air in the way only little girls can do, this despite my calm reassurances that they would be just fine and so would Brody. I removed the tick, confirmed no others were present, had the kids wash their hands, and figured that was that.

I left Brody in the backyard away from the kids while I stood in front of a ceiling high stack of as of yet unpacked boxes, cursing myself for not labelling “OVERFLOW ECTOPARASITE TREATMENT MEDS” in large block letters. Eventually I found it, a box with at least a six month supply of myriad tubes and collars for just such an occasion. Tick meds in hand, I went to plunk it on Brody.

When I came back into the living room, I found my daughter giving the wide eyed neighbor kids a lecture about ticks using all the dramatic tricks she learned in theater. She was projecting. She was using her hands to illustrate their arachnid ways. She was telling them, with great relish, about the one other time Brody had a tick last year and how traumatized she was by the whole experience.

In short, she just ensured the entire neighborhood would now know us as the Nasty Tick People.

I sat at home mortified for the next day, and when the girls came by with their dog, they stood apologetically by the front door and said my kids could come for a walk with them but Brody could not, so their dog wouldn’t get ticks.

“Is he on meds?” I asked of the now 13 week old pup.

“No,” they said. “He’s too young.”

I bit my tongue, knowing full well that when their dog goes for a walk down the very same trail we walk and ends up with a tick, because that’s usually how it happens, we’re going to shoulder the blame for it. In a flash, I saw my new life flash before my eyes. Denied a contribution to the PTA bake sale. Well coiffed blond women scooting their chairs so very slightly off to the left when I sit down next to them. Neighbors squealing in horror and crossing over to the other side of the street when we run by.

My husband thinks I should talk to the other mom.

I have not met this neighbor. I have no idea if she’s the shake it off kind of person or the kind who would tell me “It’s fine, don’t worry,” with a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. I decided it was best to take the ‘ignore it and just tell the kids to tell her Brody’s on meds’ approach.

“Did you talk to the mom and tell her you’re a vet?” my husband asked.

“Somehow,” I said, “I don’t think that will improve the situation.” Do I want to be the Gross Tick Neighbor or the Bad Vet Neighbor? Don’t answer that.

Ah well. Onward and upward. Lesson 1: Moving on to topical flea and tick preventive in the new casa. Lesson 2: Gave me a good opportunity to talk to my daughter about “stories not to share on the first day at the new school.”

In other news, the little girls came by today with their puppy, bearing the tell-tale greasy spot of a recent ectoparasite treatment. My methods of getting people to get up to date on treatment may be unconventional, but they are very, very effective.

-With love, the Nasty Tick Lady

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Mother of the Year Tagged: , ,
  • Sue W.


    And that’s the important thing!

    By the way, you didn’t ask for opinions, but just to let you know…if I were their parent, I’d want to know. I’d want to meet you. I’d want the information you have to share. Just MHO.

    P.S. “What’s this bump?” – this made my heart stop. I was relieved…RELIEVED, I tell you…to hear it was a tick and not something far worse.

    • I know, with my luck. Didn’t mean to scare you guys!!

  • Amy Sunnergren

    My heart also stopped with the “bump.” A tick I can handle. Mysterious (to me) bumps I can not.

  • Kari

    Having dealt with horses out of winter pasture that were so riddled with ticks that you could scrape your nails along their belly and come away with a palmful, a single tick absolutely doesn’t faze me. You said “bump” and my heart skipped a beat… only a tick?? WHEW!!! 🙂

    • Yeah, the tick itself wasn’t so horrifying as having to do it under the watchful eye of a houseful of unknown entity children. At least it wasn’t a birthday party.

  • Cathey

    OMG – I too was SO scared, just for that moment! And I agree with the others – I’d LOVE to have a Vet in my neighborhood, especially you, but you would have to do the tick preventative here, too, and probably MORE vigilantly – ticks LOVE Iowa.

    • I’d see them on client dogs maybe a handful of times a year, until last year. Things just got nuts in the last couple years. Bleh.

  • Audrey B

    Okay, am I the only person who has always just thought of ticks as a gross but inevitable part of life or at least of childhood? Having grown up as an outdoorsy kid in rural Georgia, I remember my mom making my brother and me (and any neighborhood stragglers) strip down to our essentials so she could douse us in sudsy diluted dishwashing liquid, meticulously search our hair and limbs, and then making us change clothes on the porch before we could come in the house. The worst was when someone would stumble through a bed of seed ticks and end up with what seemed like thousands making their way his/her ankles and grubby knees. If my mom could have put drops on the back of our necks like the dog, I’m sure she would have.

    • Growing up in New England, that’s how it was for us too. But out here, people treat you like- well, like you’re the Nasty Tick Person. Goes to show you how few of us get outdoors these days. 😉

      • Audrey B

        Almost makes me sad to admit I haven’t found a tick on my person in years. Keep up the good fight, Brody & family, you nature-loving, tick-having, “dirty” children of the sunshine!

  • Lisa W

    I still love you, nasty ticks and all!

    • Thank you. I needed that. xoxoxo

  • JaneK

    You are too funny! Ticks aren’t nasty; STDs are nasty. Just sayin’. Ticks just mean that you go outside and enjoy nature and don’t sit around playing video games all the time. The only thing bad about ticks is the Lyme disease….. Bad stuff but doesn’t have to be if it is caught in time…..

    • Yup. Definitely better to get those buggers off asap!