I don’t consider myself to be an unsanitary person. I generally smell better than the nearest road kill, and I vacuum the house of my own free will at least once every presidency. A win for the incumbent means our resident dust bunnies remain unmolested for another four years. These illusions of cleanliness were shattered recently when we discovered our dogs, Niko and Spencer, have fleas. To understand the magnitude of that statement, you must first understand that each of our 10-pound dogs is comprised of nine pounds of fur and one pound of poop they have yet to deposit on some well-traveled section of our carpet. These insects could survive for years in our dogs’ thick, tangled coats, completely untouched by sunlight or chemical attacks. Niko and Spencer are basically walking parasite bomb shelters, which consequently is the only function either of them has ever served that is actually useful to another living creature. I’d count the time Niko ate a dead bug I was too lazy to pick up, but if you add up the number of things they’ve removed from the floor and the number of things they’ve deposited there, you’d discover both dogs are still running a tremendous deficit.
I’m not sure of Niko’s exact lineage, but I’m pretty sure it involved a sheep, a Wookiee, and a bottle of tequila.
Realizing that eliminating the fleas would take considerable time and energy, I tried unsuccessfully to convince Lola that we should spend our weekend tackling an easier project, like eliminating poverty in Africa. She also rejected my suggestions that we use flea bombs, lasers, and a highly skilled exorcist. Instead, Lola gave the dogs a bath and I applied a flea-killing gel I bought at the grocery store. I like shopping at places where poisons and chip dip are sold in the same aisle just in case I ever need to kill someone using only a platter of nachos. I’m still waiting for Osama Bin Laden to call and invite me to a potluck. Like the terrorist leader and his highly selective guest list, Niko and Spencer’s fleas refused to politely curl up and die. The flea gel is supposed to make a dog’s skin toxic to parasites after only a few days, but to these fleas the substance apparently worked less like arsenic and more like mustard. I guess the over-the-counter stuff makes your dogs so delicious the fleas eat until they die from high cholesterol or diabetes.
I know it’s time to bathe the dogs when I remember Spencer doesn’t actually have any brown spots.
Basking in the warm glow of recent failure, Lola and I tried a new approach. Perhaps the death-through-fatness approach was working, we theorized, but the morbidly obese fleas on the dogs were just being replaced by slim fleas from elsewhere in the house. Since the dogs had free run of our home in the days before we noticed their newfound insectoid fan club, we figured the fleas were thoroughly entrenched in forward operating bases throughout our humble abode. Realizing the tactical strength of our cunning foe, I offered Lola two reasonable options: Give in and finally flea bomb the whole house, or burn the structure down and move somewhere else. Deeming my suggestions “unhealthy” and “insane” respectively, Lola instead insisted that we clean the house thoroughly to rid ourselves of the pests. This answer was predictable since women instinctively resort to house cleaning in times of distress. It was the same answer she gave me when I asked her what we should do about the mortgage crisis and global warming. The financial system still hasn’t recovered, but my attic is now spotless.
Lola and I spent most of Saturday washing and steam-cleaning every soft surface in the house. All blankets and towels ended up in the washing machine, and all four-legged animals ended up in the back yard. Before we banished Niko and Spencer yet again, I gave them a bath with a special shampoo that promised to be to fleas what a tornado is to trailer parks. We also scheduled an appointment with a groomer who offered to clear-cut our dogs, rendering their barren surfaces utterly incapable of supporting life. That appointment, which was Tuesday morning, went about like you would expect. Niko and Spencer officially became the first animals in the history of the world to flunk getting a haircut. Even in the best of circumstances, Niko is about as stationary as a very agitated trout. Apparently trashing about wildly isn’t conducive to proper to grooming, a reality that became evident when Niko’s impromptu dance routine earned him a noticeable cut to the thigh. After a strange man with a noisy slicing machine tries to cut off one of your legs, I guess you develop some trust issues. The situation quickly spiraled out of control, with the end result being that Lola got a call to come pick up our highly retarded but only slightly lacerated dogs.
Back when the dogs were puppies, grooming them took much less time. That’s because Lola didn’t know I used the lawn mower.
The groomer didn’t charge us – probably because most dog hairdressers don’t carry malpractice insurance – but he also didn’t cut any hair. He did, however, give each dog an anti-flea pill, or at least that’s what he said. A full day after the pill was supposed to take effect, we were finally unable to find any fleas on the dogs. We let Niko and Spencer back into the house, and they let the fleas back onto our furniture. Apparently their parasitic partners lay in hiding just long enough to regain access to our climate-controlled environment. I’m not sure why our dogs still have fleas after one regular bath, one gel treatment, one flea bath, and one pill treatment, but I guessing it’s because the groomer didn’t so much give our dogs anti-flea medicine as he did roll them in the eggs of significantly more cunning fleas. Lola is still adamantly against using flea bombs, which are useless anyway as long as our flea-infested dogs keep redistributing their guests in any areas we clear out. On Saturday, Lola and I are going to try to cut the dogs’ hair ourselves and give them an additional flea bath. If that doesn’t work, I’m sure my wife will finally acquiesce and let me burn down the house.