There are many joys to being an animal keeper, but as with any job it also has its downfalls. Pesky little bugs and bloodsuckers would be one of those downfalls. When working outside in the summer, we obviously deal with an onslaught of these critters. We become fantastic meals for mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers while we are diligently doing our jobs and not paying attention to what might be joining us as we work.
I am known to have a phobia of ticks, because it’s just really not cool for anything to burrow its head into you and suck your blood. I have been teased for years by my co-workers about the excessive amount of bug spray that I douse myself with regularly when I am working outside in the summer. They joke that as long as they stay within 5 feet of me, they don’t have to wear any themselves. But it’s difficult for them to stand that close because the fumes from the spray are suffocating! What they don’t seem to understand is that my phobia is justified, because I learned long ago that ticks absolutely love me.
Kent and I went into the wolf yard last week to do some major trimming of shrubs and tree limbs. The yard gets so overgrown in the summer that it is difficult to see the wolves, and the keepers have to keep it cut back. There was a lot to trim, so we were in the yard for over an hour. I, of course, wanted to spray myself with repellent before entering the yard, but there was no bug spray in the vicinity. Therefore, I had a bad feeling about this task before we even started…
Low and behold, every tick in the wolf yard found me. By the time we were finished, there were at least two dozen on me (and no, this is not an exaggeration).
Score one for the ticks.
I promptly came back to the building and hopped in the shower, which we are fortunate to have on the animal department support hall. I then changed my clothes and threw all of my old clothes, which were crawling with ticks, into the dryer. Kristen was nice enough to check my head, as you can see in the picture above.
Kent did not find a single tick on him, which means clearly this story was only amusing to one of us.
However, I did get a tiny bit of joy out of this story. Why, you ask? Because the picture above is actually a re-enactment of Kristen checking my hair. And when we took the picture, I had just come in from working outside and was quite sweaty! It amused me that Kristen was so grossed out about having to touch my sweaty head.
Score one for me!