Cashew’s First Bath

When i first brought her home Cashew was too little to be able to effectively regulate her body temperature. She was too young to bathe so i just dealt with the fleas. I tried not to think about them but if i parted her fur with my fingers there were hundreds of them crawling all over her skin. Cashew was a very calm puppy during her first few days with us. She slept a lot. I had seen this in animals before. I knew she was anemic and experiencing lethargy as a result of the sheer number of fleas on her little body. I didn’t for a second take the mild-mannered personality she was exhibiting to be her own. My gut instinct was that once i got those fleas off her she would be wild and energetic. I waited until the vet gave the go-ahead at her first check-up. Then bath day was scheduled. I boiled the water and made it as warm as i could without being dangerous. I knew it would have to be a quick bath but there were so many fleas. I didn’t see how i was going to get them all. She was so little that she didn’t fit in the bathtub. She would likely have drowned. So i put her in a pasta pot. I set her down into the warm water and i began lathering her up with dawn dish soap. Right away the fleas started moving. They burrowed deeper into her fur, trying to escape the soap i was applying to her top coat. So i covered my hands until they were dripping with dish soap and i worked my fingers into every centimeter of her fur. I was making good progress when Cashew began shiverring. I suddenly realized i needed to hurry up. She became very squirmy and then eventually went still, except for the shiverring which became more pronounced. I started to worry. Was the vet mistaken? Had i tried bathing too soon? It didn’t matter. She was already wet. The important thing was to hurry up and finish so i could get her warm again. I pinched the fleas between my fingers and put them on the porch. I had intended to smash them with my shoe but holding onto a wet and unhappy dog and making sure it doesn’t drown or escape is no small job. i quickly realized i could make sure Cashew didn’t escape or i could make sure the fleas didn’t escape and i chose Cashew. I got the fleas off of her and then just decided to heck with the rest. They probably found a raccoon or possum to hitch a ride on but it couldn’t be helped. The soap seemed to stun them but the fleas insulated from the soap by her long fur seemed unaffected. Every time i thought we were getting somewhere i found another cluster. There were big fleas and tiny fleas. It was quite a population. They had been biting me when i held or played with Cashew. I knew they were there but hadn’t realized how many i was dealing with. Eventually i realized the poor dog couldn’t take any more. I had to get her out of the bath. We had to be done, whether there were more or not. She was shaking so badly she resembled someone experiencing a seizure. I lifted her out of the pot, wrapped her in a towel, and held her against my chest. She continued to shiver with the same intensity. Suddenly an idea popped into my head. Sili made me think of it. I ran her inside and set her in front of the space heater. I plugged it in and turned the knob to “low”. I held her in the towel in front of the space heater where she began to thaw out. Slowly but surely the shiverring dissipated. When she was warm and fairly dry i took her back out to the porch where i spent the next hour running the flea comb through her fur and pulling them off of her one by one. I searched and searched her fur until i couldn’t find anything else moving. The bugs would get caught in the bristles of the comb and i would pick them out with my finger nails. When the comb bristles were coming up empty i declared the project finished and took her inside the house. The very next day Cashew became a different dog entirely. As i had suspected, the fleas were behind her lethargic and mild-mannered temperament. The next morning she was jumping and running around. She was mischevious and wild. She was full of energy and getting into everything she wasn’t supposed to. Only after the fleas were dealt with did i truly get to meet Cashew. I had created a monster, but i was glad to do it. I was so happy to get rid of those horrible parasites who were sucking the life right out of her. During our next vet visit she would weigh enough for puppy flea and heartworm medicine. Then she would truly be pest free and the flea comb (thank God) would enter retirement.

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