The other evening my husband was stroking our dog's belly when he said to me "There's a weird bump here. Do you think it could be a tick?"
We had recently come back from a trip to Drenthe, which has areas containing
more than four trees, which in the Netherlands qualify as forests. Our dog was
thrilled at the myriad opportunities this woodland wilderness afforded her to
smell the pee of new dogs and she spent many a happy hour frolicking in the
deadly tick-infested low bushes of the Dutch outdoors. I knew that ticks were
on the rise in NL, much like central heating and non-potato-based meals, but in
Drenthe ticks were apparently an especially serious problem, having surpassed
in notoriety even the ubiquitous Dutch mosquito.
Now, being Canadian, I'm all about the nature, but I prefer my nature to be
critter-free so I'm more of the "coffee table book" kind of nature
lover than the "swimming with dolphins" kind. But the Dutch like
nothing more than a good refreshing (boring) encounter with four trees to get
the blood pumping again, and now it seems, the ticks were fighting back. And who
can blame them? I mean, if I had a bunch of Nordic walkers busting through my
house like a (boring) tornado every weekend I'd be pretty ticked off myself.
So when my husband said "Do you think it could be a tick?" I said
"Let's have a look." I went over to where the dog was lying next to
my husband's chair and looked at the place my husband indicated on our dog's
belly. There was indeed some kind of small blackish bump there. But it was dark
in the living room where my dog and my husband had been sitting reading (the
dog was not reading because she doesn't have thumbs to hold books with) so I
suggested that maybe we should have a better look in the other room where the
light was better. So my husband and I went to the kitchen and called our dog
who came and lay down next to us, thrilled that we seemed to want to continue
the tandem belly rubbing. Problem is, now that we had moved positions, we
couldn't remember where the bump was. This was a problem because our dog is
quite furry. I mean, like, really furry. Here's a photo of her just to
illustrate how furry she is (and also because it's hilarious):
No, we did not make her wear that outfit. She totally chose it
Anyway, looking for a tick on a furry dog is a bit like looking for a needle
in a furry dog. It's freaking hard work. And once my husband had taken his hand
off the bump, we had a heck of a time finding it again. But eventually we did.
I got my face as close as I could to it without scaring the hell out of the dog
and concluded that it was most definitely a tick. Probably. I mean, I'd never
actually seen a tick before in my life, but I was pretty sure that was the only
explanation. That, or a nipple. It could also totally be a nipple. I mentioned this to my husband.
"I never thought of that," he said. There was a moment of silence
while we considered that we had quite possibly been on the brink of trying to
pry off our dog's nipple with a pair of tweezers (can you see why it's good that we have a dog and not a child?).
Then my husband said "But if it's a nipple shouldn't she have more than
"Good thinking," I said. "We can see if she has more bumps
like that one and if she does we know it's probably just a nipple and there's
no need to panic," I said.
So we had a feel around our (by now somewhat irritated) dog's belly, but we
couldn't find any more ticks/nipples.
"We're going to have to take her to the vet," I said at last.
"We can't just start trying to remove this without knowing what it
"We're going to take her to the vet with an affliction which might just
be a serious case of nipple?" my husband asked. I admitted it had the potential
to be more than a little bit embarrassing but what choice did we have?
My husband grudgingly agreed that he would take our dog to the vet the next
morning. "But," my husband said then, "what if when I get there
I can't find the tick/nipple again?"
"Hmm. Good point," I said. "We need a way to mark it." I felt super smart for coming up
with this idea and decided not for the first time that I would make a good spy.
I looked around the kitchen while my husband kept his finger on the dog's
tick/nipple, but the only thing I could see that looked like it might work was
a green highlighter pen that had been left on the counter sometime in 2009 and
which was by now probably dry. "We can mark it with this if it still
works," I said.
"Good idea" said my husband, who probably would
also make a good spy if it wasn't for his appalling eyesight.
Much to our surprise, the green highlighter still had some juice in it, as
we discovered after a few passes around the tick/nipple. Our dog, previously tan
and white with black patches, was now tan, white and black with one neon green
"There," I said smugly, snapping the cap back on. "Now the
vet will know where to look."
As you can imagine we both felt very pleased with ourselves for being so
clever and level-headed about the whole tick business, until, a few minutes later, while stroking my dog's underside, I felt a
second bump. On the other side of her belly. I looked at. It looked exactly the same as the first bump. Why did it look the same, you ask? Well, because nipples
usually do look the same. Now our dog would have to walk around with one of her
nipples highlighted like an important passage in a book for no reason
On second thought, at least it did give us the opportunity to take this
The other dogs in the park don't exactly shun her, but you can tell they
think she's kind of trashy. She is drawing a lot of unnecessary attention to her boobs,