The summer of Foo-Foo. Boy, was that fun. I agreed to dog-sit so a dog owner could be off for a specialized summer program. When Foo-Foo arrived, she seemed a bit off kilter, grey, pudgy and lopsided in shape. Picking her up, I felt a mat of snarled hair rolled smack dab around her belly like yarn around a skein. I didn’t hold Foo-Foo for very long. Her stench was something putrid.
Foo-Foo ought to have looked regal. She was a shitzu, a breed treasured for its aristocratic bearing and long, straight hair. But she hadn’t been cared for in a manner her status as regal dog demands.
Out came the Yellow Pages and soon Foo-Foo had an appointment at the dog groomer. About ten seconds after Foo-Foo arrived at her doggie beautician, I was informed Foo-Foo had a massive flea infestation. There was but one right choice in this circumstance. Off with it, was declared, and the clippers got busy and sheared off every last bit of Foo-Foo’s hair. I dropped off a dirty grey, heavy puppy and what was returned to me was a skeletal thin snow-white-with-pink-skin-showing nearly bald dog looking something like a rat with her new do.
The salon folks convinced me to buy an arsenal of spray bottles, one to deflea my furniture, one a shampoo, and yet another to douse Foo-Foo with in order to prevent a relapse to flea infestation. I’m a bit of a health nut and study all precautions seriously, leading me most often to go off any medication ever prescribed me. I took Foo-Foo’s health just as seriously as my own, which is why I sat down on my couch and devoted time to read the fine print on the flea-ridding products. Their dire warnings and precautions had me soon believing I’d poison the dog if ever I used them. So, Google-me-addict that I am, off I went on a quest of Google to find how to naturally repel fleas. Sure enough I found my answer fast enough. Some website claimed apple cider vinegar should do the trick.
Following directions, I diluted apple cider vinegar and spritzed it on Foo-Foo. A missile on cocaine wouldn’t have taken off like that poor dog did. Foo-Foo bounced about three feet in the air to launch, then began zipping about my apartment like a crazed being. You see, Foo-Foo had lingering flea bites, and I’d assume vinegar doesn’t do much in easing itches. Rather, au contraire. I tried catching Foo-Foo so as to get her into the tub to rinse her off and ease the burning. But, Foo-Foo was a’zooming. I couldn’t get anywhere near the blur of white bit that was bouncing from room to room, pinballing from wall to wall and giving off a high-pitched keening sound.
It took some doing until I managed to get water on Foo-Foo (with a big bucket’s help). And her pain was soon doused. I was left with a water-logged apartment, a sleeping dog, the beginnings of a headache, and the philosophical question of what could I learn from the experience.
Then it hit me, not as swooshing clear as the cold water which had cleared Foo-Foo’s skin, but a glimmer of reason. Many is the time we do something in the best of intentions and get a reaction full of pain from people. You say something nice and get a snide comment back. And you wonder, from whence did that spring? You smile at someone and, bam, get an earful of curses, as if the world suddenly went tilt-a-whirl and everything was upside down. I never understood those times. Now, I think I do. Reactions of folks don’t fit surface appearances at times because hidden beneath, where neither you nor I can see, there just might be festering wounds. Itchy emotional sores we really ought not aggravate. Just as I had no clue of bites hidden by Foo-Foo’s fur, I don’t know what pain is hidden in my fellow man’s soul. Therefore, if inadvertently I hurt someone, I now can know a festering wound has been touched, and can find a way to understand even a volatile outburst. As a wise woman once told me, if you step on a toe and get a bad reaction, you probably stepped on the toe with the infected ingrown toenail. If I hurt someone, not meaning to, it probably is their emotional flea bite that I’ve just given the vinegar treatment.
Yes, I’ve learned from Foo-Foo a profound, deep, philosophical truth. I also learned another truth, quite a practical one. Don’t use apple cider vinegar on flea bites.