Halloween Came Early

I had one of the most frightening experiences of my life today. I’m sure JaYoBaCa would concur. Or at least JaYoCa would. Brady missed out on the whole thing. Lucky him.

Since I worked nearly all day Wednesday on tweaking a web site and the poor dogs didn’t get to do anything but lie around and recover from the adventure of the day before, decided that today we’d enjoy the sunshine and go for a romp. Unfortunately, it’s hunting season here and some of our usual haunts are off-limits. But there are still plenty of places to go and took the dogs to a tried and true favorite today.

We’d been out for an hour or so and I decided to wander over to a trail we’d gone on earlier in the week. However, the plan was altered when I realized there was a person ahead of us with two dogs of her own. No worries. Opted to take a side trail that I hardly ever see anyone take and off we went.

The ball-obsessed dogs, Youke, Brady and Camm, were all being a bit pesky about me throwing the ball again. But because they’d already had a fair amount of ball time and I just wanted to walk quietly down the trail, I informed them that we were “on a break.” Always cracks me up how many phrases my dogs know. I think this comes from living with just one very consistent human.

Brady, as usual and after being informed of the break, sprinted ahead to explore. The other three stayed pretty close, with Youke frequently throwing me glances to see if I’d changed my mind about the ball.

I guess my attention span wandered. Next thing I know I see Jasmine off to the side of the path and very interested in something. Then I realized she was snapping continuously at the air. That means biting, buzzing insects.

Jasmine had stumbled across a wasp nest of some sort.

Jasmine is one of the most fearless dogs I’ve ever met under certain circumstances. She’ll shake like a leaf at her annual examination at the vet’s, but when it comes to bees, hornets or wasps, she’s a fighter. In the spring, Jasmine will poke her nose in flowers and bushes for the pure sake of finding and destroying bees.

Bees though are an entirely different critter from wasps. I’m not sure Jasmine realizes this.

To my utter horror, I saw that both of Jasmine’s shoulders were crawling with wasps. I sharply barked a “leave it” to her to get her away from the apparent nest, swatted at her quickly and told her to run with me. Youke and Camm had come back closer to see what the problem was. I shouted at them to “go.” Youke quickly realized what was going on. Camm, being ever so curious – or maybe nosy – came over to Jasmine to see what was going on.

Now I had three dogs that had wasps crawling on them.

I stopped them all and swatted wasps off them as best as I could. We ran a little way more down the trial, then I stopped and quickly felt them all over, hoping I too wouldn’t get stung.

At that point it seemed the wasps were off the dogs. I think the cooler temperatures, especially where we were, helped vastly. The wasps were sluggish.

Then I saw Youke limping. I called him over to me and I checked his body. I found one wasp, swatted it off, but Youke was terrified and holding his paw up. I was unable to tell if he’d been stung on the paw (as in maybe he stepped on one), on the foreleg or on his shoulder. The sad thing was that as I was checking him, he was trembling violently.

I brought him closer to me and held him, bringing my face to his and nestling his head under my neck. Youke’s heart was pounding. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or felt a heart beat so loudly in my life.

At that point I worried he’d been stung multiple times and would either have a reaction of some sort or really was in incredible pain.

Since the Benadryl was in the car, I got out arguably the best medicine in the world for a dog like Youke. The Ball.

Turns out that while scared, and no doubt stung as well, The Ball made almost everything better.

I was able to determine that Youke still had full use of his paw and leg. The Ball also helped him to calm down.

But I was still worried about Camm and Jasmine. Although Camm’s coat isn’t thick, a wasp could still get tangled in it and sting her multiple times. I checked her over again more thoroughly and did find one wasp, which I quickly swatted away, but got stung it the process.

Jasmine’s coat is short, but she has a dense undercoat. Sure enough, several wasps were trapped in her coat. I managed to get them off her without getting stung myself.

It’s unclear if either Jasmine or Camm were stung at all. While I believe getting stung was unavoidable, neither of the girls reacted as if they had been.

Since I wanted some time to pass to allow the angry wasps to calm down, we continued going down the trail, which unfortunately dead ends.

Meanwhile, Brady popped up ahead of us and wanted to play ball. He couldn’t seem to grasp why everyone, particularly Youke, was all freaked out.

We reached the dead-end portion and I again did a body check on all four dogs, including Brady. To my dismay, I again saw Jasmine at the side of the trail snapped at something flying in the air. I don’t know if it was another batch of wasps or maybe some lone one that had followed us or emerged from someone’s fur, but I called the dogs to me and told them to run.

We ran for a little bit, then continued walking very rapidly back up the trail. I realized that eventually we’d intersect with the original scene but just told myself we’d run like hell if we had to.

While I knew roughly where that spot was, Youke knew exactly where it was. He stopped suddenly, tail tucked up so far between his legs that he looked as if he never had one. I called to him and assured him it’d be okay. He paced for a few seconds and then decided to trust me and made a beeline (no pun intended) for me.

Even Brady, who had missed the entire frightening episode, was acting freaked out by then. I’m not sure four dogs have ever been happier to see their vehicle and get in it.

Because I know from a wasp attack at home a few years ago how adept wasps are at hiding in dogs’ fur, I again swept my hands over everyone’s body to make sure we had no passengers. All seemed clear.

I should’ve known better.

Almost to the exit off the highway to get home and all four dogs started getting very antsy. I immediately knew that I had an unauthorized and scary passenger.

Sure enough, a wasp flew up to the front. Not gonna lie. I didn’t want that little fucker stinging me, much less any of my dogs. But because I somehow inherited some weird calm under pressure thing from my mother, I managed to get off the highway, onto my exit and drive a little way, while at the same time keeping in my lane, and scrolling the windows up and down to encourage Mr. Nasty to fly off.

Just as I turned into a shopping area parking lot, he did just that.

I hopped out of the car to check on the dogs and to once again see if there were still wasps on them or in the jeep. Youke was shaking again, but at that point I just figured it’d be better to get home as quickly as I could.

I did yet another body check on everyone when we got back home. Seemed as though finally the wasps were gone.

Ordinarily, the dogs like to check out the yard for a bit when we get home. Not today. Everyone just wanted to get inside to safety.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to ever convince Youke to go on that trail again.

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