Our 2015 "Summer of the Flea"

June 01, 2017

--by Julie Morrill

James and Garrett Treating Pups with Diatomaceous Earth

The summer of 2015 was the infamous "Summer of the Flea" for us. Never in all our nearly 20 years of raising dogs here in Siskiyou County have we ever experienced a single flea. Fleas have never existed in our sheltered little corner of Scott Valley. They're like demons; as soon as you get rid of a few, a legion takes its place. We consulted with our local veterinarian and he said people throughout California and Oregon were experiencing an epidemic of fleas, because of previously mild winter. We were unprepared. The plague struck our kennel and struck hard. We did a lot of research and fought back.

I (Julie) am strongly opposed to heavy chemicals and poisons, so I insisted on trying every people-safe, pet-safe, natural solution I could find. I mixed up cornstarch, baking soda, diatamaceous earth and essential oils of pennyroyal and citronella. Besides, we had tiny little puppies that couldn't tolerate the heavy toxins of medicinal treatments. Unfortunately, nothing worked well emough to kill them. I found that my natural solutions didn't work. Instead, all innocuous methods only caused the fleas to jump off the dogs and jump back on again after the dust had settled and the essential oil aromas dissipated. More aggressive maneuvers were called for. We dusted diatamaceous earth onto every dog and every area inhabited by our dogs. We covered every inch of every lawn, bare ground, and straw bedding with the fine powder. We gave weekly flea baths, misted our dogs with flea spray, drenched our lawn and yard with insecticides, applied monthly anti-flea treatments and used fine-toothed flea combs on our dogs. For the smaller puppies, we resorted to flea baths, where we foamed up the pups with flea shampoo suds and set the timer for five full minutes before rinsing and then spending hours picking through their coats with flea combs. (Actually, our daughter Rienne bore the brunt of the flea-picking labor and to her we are very grateful.) Harsher chemicals are not recommended for younger pups, but the merciless vampires absolutely had to be stopped.

Lily & Claire Warken (neighbor kids) Bathing Pups

By the end of summer, we were able to knock back the evil insects to a weakened state, but, despite all our attacks, we never fully annihilated our nemesis. What we really needed was angelic interventionin the form of a cold snap. Thirty-two degrees would be a Godsend. We looked forward to cold. We prayed for cold. Ice would be our new best friend. Autumn's freezing temperatures arrived late, but when they did come, we watched our enemies wave their white flags of surrender and descend into depths of blinking heck, where they belong.

On the top of our agenda for spring 2016 was a strategy for barricading our fortress against any future attacks from our adversay. Unfortunately, the cold did not destroy all traces of the dreaded flea, but our preventive measures ensured that our dogs enjoyed a flea-free summer without another terrorist attack. We will continue to employ similar aggressive offensive maneuvers prior to every summer from now on. Now, here we are nearing hte summer of 2017 and we are flea-free and we will make every effort to stay that way.

We sympathize with everyone who has ever encountered a flea. We truly despise the miniscule pests that escape from the pit of the underworld to torture animals, robbing them of every last vestige of comfort and sleep. After all we went through, we thank God for His divine deliverance from our foes and wish you and your dog a happy, flea-free life.

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