Thursday, November 18, 2010

Call of Duty: Dog Ops

In 1982, a scientist on vacation in the Caribbean happened upon an abandoned rum distillery. This is shocking on several levels.

I wasn't aware scientists take vacations. Much less, in the Caribbean. I think of the Caribbean as a haven for hedonistic Long Island gumbas seeking a respite from the daily grind of organized crime.

Furthermore, having spent some time on Anguilla, I can see no reason why a rum distillery would be abandoned. There is no way supply could ever exceed the demand.

Nevertheless, like any good scientist, he collected a sample of dirt, brought it home and discovered a rare actinomycete, Sacchaaropolyspora spinosa. From this odd bacterium he was able to derive spinosad.

Spinosad, as it turns out, is a highly effective pesticide that works particularly well on blood-sucking insects. (It may very well be the answer to the country's growing bed-bug problem.)

If you own a dog you need to know about spinosad.

You see, we've tried all those over the counter methods of flea eradication: the collars, the drops, the homeopathic crap you sprinkle in the dog's food. (In my world homeopathic is a synonym for useless. I like chemicals that need FDA approval.)

In any case, none of it seemed to work. Moreover, it's expensive as hell. So it leaves you with this sinking feeling, not unlike the drug user who drops $100 for a bag of cornstarch and baking powder.

With my legs looking like I'd been abused in some North Vietnamese prison camp, I decided to increase my level of firepower. I called the vet and got hold of some Comfortis, a prescription-grade level medicine containing the magical spinosad.

I chopped up the pill and gave Nellie an early dinner. I watched her lap up every speck of the beef-flavored flea-killing concoction. The vet said the medicine works fast and kills fleas within half an hour. Those might have been the longest 30 minutes in my life.

Unable to contain my de-flea glee, I put on my running shoes and knocked out three miles. When I returned I put on my magnifying glasses for a canine inspection. And there under Nellie's thick coat, I found two fleas. Only this time they did not, and could not, jump from my pinchy fingers. They were already dead.

For the following three days I removed flea carcases (carcii) and deposited their unmoving bodies in the toilet. Every new find put a broad smile on my face. There may be greater joys in life. But right now, I can't think of many.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good idea. My wife, kids and Gretchen, our schnoodle all say thanks.