I’ve never given a lot of thought to bugs. They seem to be everywhere, and except for the one or two ticks I somehow managed to pick up over the years they’ve never really bothered me much. Even the ticks didn’t really bother me—they bothered the folks, who started freaking out about the weird diseases they carry and why the medicine they were giving me to prevent getting them in the first place didn’t work.
OK, I’ve heard about fleas, and mange, which the Doc said is actually an infestation of some kind of tiny thing called a mite, and it’s all pretty disgusting. The Doc said people get mange, too, but from a mite that’s a little different, so they call the condition scabies. From what I can tell it’s just as disgusting as the mange business. I don’t know why they need a different name for it, other than maybe they think they are better than us and scabies is a higher class of parasite.
I realize we don’t all live with people who make the effort to keep those things off us, and a lot of my guys don’t live with people at all, so bugs can be a big deal. But I never imagined they would be a big deal for me. Until about a week ago.
The Doc had just gotten home from work and I was there to make sure he got in the door and got his stuff put away—that little suitcase he takes with him and the coat with all the pens in the pockets. I have no idea why he needs so many pens. I mean, how much writing can he possibly be doing? If you listen to all the whining he does about the computer, how awful it is, how he has to do all his charts, whatever they are, on it, how it takes up all his time, blah, blah, you’d think mavbe one pen would be enough. More than enough.
Anyway, he gets settled, I get the attention I deserve for being the first to see him at the door, and then mom says, “We have a problem”. This was something of a surprise to me, because I’d been home with her all day and I hadn’t been aware of any ‘problem’.
“Oh?” he said.
“Look at the coffee table.”
The coffee table, I then learned, was the round thing in the middle of the room with the TV and the fireplace that the folks put stuff on, like books and drinks and sometimes food when other people come over. It looked the same as it always did. At least it did to me. The Doc took a look, and another look, and then he said, “Termites”.
Boy, was I relieved. As far as I knew dogs didn’t get termites, so I was home free. No new medicine, no trip to the vet’s. There might have been a ‘problem’, but it certainly didn’t seem to be mine. Nevertheless, the mood in the room had taken a serious downturn and rather than be brought down with it I decided to go out to the yard. You never know when a squirrel might get reckless and I wanted to be there if it did.
Over the next few days things started getting a little weird. Strange people came to the house and crawled all over the place. Mom and the Doc had many conversations in which termites played a major part. Again, I’m not a medical professional but I’m pretty sure people don’t get termites either, so I was having a hard time figuring out what all the worry was about.
The strange people came back again, this time with other strangers. They climbed on the roof, into the attic, and snooped in the basement. When they were done they had a meeting with the folks. Whatever they said made the mood in the house even worse. I figured I’d be spending a lot of time in the yard until whatever this termite disaster was finally ended. Wrong.
The next day the folks started packing things up in plastic bags. Important stuff, like all the food. The Doc loves to cook. He does it almost every day, work or no work, and one of my favorite things is to hang around in the kitchen while he does it. Now, though, all the stuff he needs to cook with was going into the bags and we started making trips to places where they make the food for you and you take it home to eat. Very unusual, and finally even I was starting to get concerned. Termites are bugs, and most bugs are small, so it was hard for me to believe the food was getting put into the bags so the termites wouldn’t eat it all.
When they were done with the food, they started on the guitars. They didn’t put them in plastic bags. Worse. They took them out of the house. Now I was beyond concerned. I can almost imagine the Doc living in a place without food. Almost. But there’s no way I can see him living somewhere without food and his guitars. Something was seriously up.
Then the luggage came out. That was the last straw. I was doomed and I had no idea why. No food, no guitars, and now one, or maybe both, of them was going away. So this was going to be it, then. All because of some bugs called termites. I was too depressed to even think about squirrels. The folks must have known how I was feeling because they kept trying to cheer me up, telling me everything was OK. But I knew everything was not OK at all. I was miserable. I didn’t know what to do, so I went down to my bed and fell asleep.
The next morning the Doc left for work, like usual. Mom took me for my walk, like usual. I had breakfast, sort of. I didn’t have much of an appetite. I was waiting for whatever horrible thing was surely about to happen to finally happen. I didn’t have to wait long. As soon as I was done eating mom picked up the leash and hooked me up. Another walk? Was she feeling guilty, maybe? Nope.
We went out the door and started up the hill, not our normal route. But we only got as far as Stella’s place—she’s the miniature Australian shepherd who lives two doors away. We used to hang out some at the park back in the old days but I hadn’t seen much of her in years. Anyway, we got to Stella’s, mom opened the door and in we went. Stella was at the door and I could tell she was as surprised as I was.
I said ‘Hi’ and did a little investigating. I’d never been to Stella’s so I was curious. The place was cozy, with a big deck and a view of the trees, like our house. And like our house the kitchen, fireplace and TV were on the top floor, and the big bedroom was downstairs. I also noticed some very familiar smells coming from one particular room, a bedroom near the kitchen. Hmm.
I walked over to check it out with Stella right behind me. When I got to the door I froze. In one corner was my bed, and on the floor were the suitcases and other bags of stuff from our house. I looked at Stella and she just raised her eyebrows. Neither of us had a good idea what was going on and both of us were a little uncomfortable with the possibilities. I mean, we aren’t puppies any more and we like to have our own space.
I walked back to the front door, giving mom the signal that the visit was over and it was time to go home, bed or no bed. She got the message but instead of grabbing the leash and heading off she settled into one of the comfy sofas and started carrying on with Stella’s mom. Stella and I stood there staring at one another. Finally she curled up under the dining table and I did the same on rug nearby. You know what we say, ‘When in doubt, take a nap’.
Later that afternoon we went for our regular walk, down the hill, and past our house which was now inside some kind of giant bag. It was like trash day, but I couldn’t imagine a truck large enough to pick it up being able to get down our street. I stopped for a minute and gave it a sniff. Something bad was going on in there and I decided to keep moving.
When the Doc got home from work he came to Stella’s, too. While he was changing clothes I asked for an explanation. He said it was all about the termites. I told him that dogs and people don’t get termites and he of all people should know that. He started laughing but as far as I could tell there was nothing funny about any of this. Then he told me termites eat wood. I asked what that had to do with us. He replied that our house is made of wood.
I thought about that for a minute, trying to make some connection, and then it hit me.
The termites had moved into our house and were eating it!
“So the strangers put the house in a trash bag and are going to haul it away?”
“No. They put a tent over it and filled the tent with poison gas to kill the termites and whatever other bugs are living there with us. In a couple days the tent comes off and we go home. No more termites. At least for now.”
As usual he was right. We spent two nights at Stella’s, which were actually OK. The Doc cooked, mom watched TV and chatted with Stella’s mom, and everyone tried to make the best of things. Stella was very gracious and I let her know she could stay at our place if the termites ever tried to eat her house.
Things were kind of a mess when we finally got back home but I didn’t care. A bunch of cleaning people came. No problem. There were plastic bags full of stuff that had to be put away. Fine. We were home, the suitcases were back in the closet where they belong, and the termites were dead. I never actually met a termite, but even if I had I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel sorry for them.