Ringo’s Big Adventure
Into the Wilderness
by Dallas Doctor
The old neighborhood was predictable. Ringo knew where all the dogs were. He knew which ones were going to growl as we walked by and he knew which ones were going to run to the fences and want to play. He knew where the cats were going to congregate and he knew how to get them to run away. Ringo knew the routine too: two romps around the circuit, one early morning and one late evening, sandwiched around one long trek to the beach each mid-day.
But this new neighborhood is different. It’s much wilder. Ringo never knows what’s going to happen here. Sometimes Ringo finds a hedgehog and wants to play with it (Hedgehogs don’t make great playmates; they tend to curl up and hold very still). Sometimes a snake will slither by (that’s always good for a jolt of surprise). Lizards scurry. Frogs continually hop out of the way. Feral cats leap from hiding places and give Ringo a never-ending source of amusement and entertainment. Ringo’s always on the alert for whatever new thing’ll happen next. Today we stopped and watched two turtles making love in the grass. Ringo didn’t know that turtles like to make love in different positions (Doc didn’t know that either). Evidently, they do.
But the biggest thing about the wild is that you never know what you’re going to encounter. Ringo never read Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” but Doc did, so he knows the ultimate thing about the wild is that it’s not knowable. The next “horror” is very often something you never expected or imagined.
And Ringo and Doc discovered the “horror” the hard way, because when they entered their new palatial apartment for the first time, after that first exploratory doggie-walk, Doc grabbed Ringo’s water-bowl and placed it out on the balcony, so he and Ringo could sit, recover, and enjoy the view for a few minutes. And that’s when they discovered the ticks…
Ticks were everywhere. There were at least fifty ticks all over Ringo. Luckily, the ticks began immediately leaping from Ringo to Doc; that’s what alerted Doc to the problem (and that’s the good news). Doc immediately grabbed a jar and started removing ticks, both from Ringo and from himself. Every square millimeter of Ringo was inspected again and again over the next few hours and days. The tick-removal process was nearly constant for the next 72-hours. Ringo immediately understood exactly what was going on and submitted to the incessant inspections with incredible patience and cooperation. The ticks were roughly the same color as Ringo’s fur so they might have been harder to spot, but they tended to want to congregate in Ringo’s ears, armpits and under-belly which made them far easier to discover.
The other fortunate happenstance was that the ticks, whenever possible, wanted to leap off Ringo and onto Doc (Ringo takes medication that kills ticks and the clever ticks must have been able to sense it, because scores of them abandoned Ringo for Doc). But once on Doc, the ticks were far easier to spot (plus doc could feel them crawling on his skin), so Doc didn’t mind the temporary inconvenience — much.
That initial tick explosion (the first-ever in the lives of Ringo and Doc) not only forced Doc to become an overnight-google-expert in the best practices for tick removal, and how to look for the early warning signs of Lyme disease, but the experience also transformed Doc’s initial perception of the new neighborhood…
Doc’s first reaction to the trauma was to try to keep Ringo out of the grass during the Doggie walks. Doc figured he should confine Ringo to paved-areas-only as a safety precaution. And they did that for the first few walks. But it wasn’t easy, or fun, or remotely realistic, because Ringo, as you know, is a dog. Staying on the pavement is far less emotionally fulfilling than romping in the grass. And why should ticks dictate where Ringo can and can’t go, … or what Ringo can and can’t do? That would be like removing your shoes and submitting to long lines and unreasonable searches at the airport…
Ringo and Doc decided that over-reacting to the possibility of another tick-encounter would mean the ticks win, and Ringo wanted none of that. And Doc decided that Ringo was right.
So these days, Ringo and Doc are back to romping in the grass and life is good again. In fact, it’s better. Because now, at the end of each and every doggie-walk, Ringo and Doc get a little extra one-on-one-touch-time out on the balcony while Ringo gets brushed down and inspected all over. Doc thinks maybe Ringo might like that part almost as much as the doggie-walk.
Please feel free to share this story in any way you consider appropriate. This is part of a collection of simple short stories called: “Ringo’s Big Adventure” which is NOT to be confused with a similarly titled, but entirely different set of (hopefully) more-literary stories with the working title “Conversations Overheard While Traveling with Ringo” which are ONLY available to the awesome humans who are making these adventures possible. Please visit patreon.com/dockity/overview to learn more… Thank You! Sincerely, dockity.