A Fox-tail Summer in New Mexico

Whew! What a summer. Heat, fox-tails and rattlesnakes are reminding me of the deep, dark, south and in particular Georgia where the ticks, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes and Newt Gingrich used to drive me nuts. I usually think of Georgia as the home of biting insects and right-wingers but this NM summer has been even more daunting primarily because of nasty fox-tails. I never knew they could be lethal and they’re everywhere including my little dogs ears. In case you’re unsure, fox-tails are the seed tassels at the top of grass stalks.

10 days ago my elderly dog Lulu started carrying her head radically tilted so that the ear was pointed down toward the ground. Following day her head shaking accelerated to the point she was shrieking in pain. We got to the vet immediately and had several fox-tails removed from each ear.

A little research revealed the horrors of fox-tails and dogs. They can enter the dog via the ears, nose, eyes, sexual parts and skin. That just about includes everything. And once inside they keep moving forward because the structure of the tails does not allow for retracing their forward-ho. And so they are labeled as possible killers with an ability to move into the brain.And they are known to cause serious infections wherever they lodge including the feet.

Had to get those tails out of the dog yard, What a job; they were everywhere and the temps have been in the 90s so I was on the job at the break of dawn with shears and rake, crawling about on steep hill sides under sap dripping pinons. With the beginning signs of emphysema to taunt me this job took days and wasn’t completed until after a second pup Rosie started gagging as though a gopher was lodged in her throat. Gave her a bronchitis tab and after an hour or so the gagging subsided.

We’ve cut back on our outdoor ventures. Not quite as many trips to the forest which is a sea of tails. The situation is worse for little dogs because they are eye level with the wind-stirred horrors. So now we must watch out for both rattlesnakes and fox-tails; not so easy with a deaf and almost blind 16 year old Lulu who stumbles and falls from time to time.

We’re quite a sight walking the trails. Often I think this is possibly Lulu’s final trail walk; it’s difficult for her to follow even tho she is on a lease. She reliably takes the wrong fork in the road which leads to a nice bunch of tails.

Bunny the short hair chihuahua always races ahead. She is quite a little Olympian, leaping over obstacles and rediscovering the river running beside the trail. When she smells someone on the trail she goes absolutely bonkers. She’s not on a lease and usually responds to voice commands. But…………she has the heart of a German Shepard and can be very scary. I need eyes in the back of my head to keep up with her rabbity ears darting about, ears that are prime targets for guess what…………….

Rosie the little Griffon is also on a retractable lease. She is totally unreliable and quite dangerous to herself. She lives in her own world, gets lost in her involvement with whatever and ends up in places she can neither recognize or navigate so she hides until found. The forest is too large to look for her silly self – so she is captured on the end of a lease.

Add to this little monster brigade the threat of coyotes, bear, rattlesnakes and foxtails and you can imagine how my head swims with disaster scenarios. Why not curtail outdoor activities? Yes I wonder sometimes if I’m putting them in danger but they love our walks and seem to get depressed after several days off the trails. I follow their wishes; I am their devoted servant.

One thought on “A Fox-tail Summer in New Mexico”

  1. Jane, leave a link more often. I do like your stories.

    Tell me about this bronchitis pill. Our Pom goes thru a hacking cough. I chalked it up to an allergy.


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