Beardies vs. Books

The latest book by my favorite author. Right! A frosty glass of iced tea and a plateful of still warm chocolate chip cookies. Ummm, Nirvana. Thus fortified, I sink into the comfy recliner and flip open the book. I’ve barely made it through the first paragraph of the prologue when the book bounces and there are four furry faces crowding my lap. Eight eager eyes asking for attention. Trapped! There’s no escape. Like most females, I’m fairly adept at multi-tasking but petting four Beardies at once is beyond my talents. Declan settles the problem by leaping onto my lap, forcing the other three to back off. Okay, I can scratch with one hand and turn pages with the other. Getting immersed in the story, I’m mindlessly scratching Declan behind an ear when my index finger gets caught in……a matt!

Now every Beardie owner is on a first name basis with matts but “I just spent an hour brushing you out last night.” Oh well, might as well take care of it now before it gets worse. Removing Declan from my lap, I head for the tack box and return with the proper tools to decimate the offensive clump. The job completed in short order, I return to the recliner and my book. Declan decides he’s safer on the coffee table. I don’t drink coffee (and neither does Declan) but calling it a tea table just doesn’t sound like something Declan should be snoozing on.

Peace reigns for a few pages. Then ulp……ulph…..ulp. I freeze. I know that sound. Keira is standing on the sofa, her back arched, her mouth open. Incoming upchuck. Ulp….ulph. “Nooooo. Not on the sofa!” I catapult out of the chair and halfway across the room on the first bound, my voice midway between a moan and a howl with pleading overtones. With only milliseconds to spare, I remove Keira from her perch on the sofa. Ulp….and a daffodil yellow puddle appears on the tile floor. A couple of paper towels and a quick swipe with the damp mop cleans it up. Keira trots off for a drink of water. I return to my book.

But not for long. A couple of pages later and there’s a loud and insistent bark at the front door. Friday has had enough of the great (hot) outdoors and wants in. Now! Immediately! I mark the stopping spot in my book, get up and open the door. Friday trots in. Back to my book. But then there’s this chomping/gnawing noise and I look up to see Friday chewing on a paw. Burrs! I pull them up and mow them down, but still they survive and manage to attach to Beardie coats.

With a show on the slate next weekend, this is not a good time to remove coat. With a sigh, I tuck the bookmark between the pages and call Friday over and onto the grooming table. While wielding comb and slicker brush, I ruefully recall the time, many years ago, when one of my males waded through burrs and decided to rip them out before I became aware of them. He looked like a sheep with four naked legs protruding from a profuse coat. And this just three days before he was entered in a three-show weekend. No way I want to face that again. When Friday’s paws are pristine once more, I hasten back to my book.

Dalton decides it’s time for him to claim his share of attention. He nudges my arm and raises his head under my hand. So I scratch his ears, massage his neck and darn!, I feel a tick under my fingertips. I don’t even want to guesstimate how much money I’ve spent trying to annihilate ticks and their equal opportunity aggravation — fleas. The best I can manage is to keep their numbers down to merely irritating. But I retaliate. Plucking the nasty critter off Dalton’s neck, I drop it on a paper towel. Then, with a hemostat, I pick it up by one arm (or leg, it’s not easy to tell) and drop it into a bottle of alcohol — all the while humming “I wanna hold your hand.” Revenge is sweet. Pickled ticks.

And now it’s time to start dinner and feed the gang before heading off to rally class. The book will have to wait. Fortunately, they’re handy that way. I wonder if it comes in an audio version.

— alice bixler

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