Is there a more vile, sickening creature than the tick?

I mean, mosquitoes also suck blood and carry disease, but they don’t latch on and just stay there. Mosquitoes are relatively polite — “Don’t mind me. Just getting a quick bite. Gone in a jiff.” — while ticks are like bad party guests who hang around drinking beers till 4 a.m., even though everyone else left at midnight. Plus, like bad party guests, if you’re not really careful and delicate about removing ticks, they’ll lose their heads and cause you all kinds of problems.

I pulled one off of my dog Barkley last Sunday (a tick, not a party guest) and I’m only now getting over it. And, yes, this is the point at which all of you outdoorsy types can begin laughing and thinking to yourself how this is no big deal: “Check out the kid from suburban Detroit. He’s scared of a silly little tick. He probably never shot cans off a fence with a BB gun when he was a kid. Or jumped into a swimming hole or trapped squirrels or nothing.”

And, yes, it’s true that I missed out on all of those Huck Finn American kid things. I wish I hadn’t, but I did; I was too busy collecting baseball cards and watching “Cartoon Express” on the USA Network. So I’m not used to outdoorsy problems like ticks.

I never actually had to pull a tick off of a dog before (or off of anything for that matter, myself included, thank God). Finding one on Barkley was a big, freakout-inducing kind of deal, man.

Because this is the 21st century, an era in which all information is readily available and nobody needs to actually know anything, I looked up “tick removal” on YouTube. The first thing the kindly tick removal experts on the video said is that if you rush the job or if you pull the wrong way, you can end up yanking the body off while leaving the tick’s head attached.

LEAVING THE TICK’S HEAD ATTACHED. Attached to your dog’s body. Presumably forever. Just a disembodied insect head, stuck in the skin for ever and ever. Maybe still alive? Who knows? The tick video people didn’t say. Maybe the head lives on. Maybe the spirit of the tick is stuck in limbo, a netherworld from which it occasionally reappears in the form of a headless apparition to torment both the living and the souls of the dead.

Again, no information from the tick video people on this possibility.

So, obviously, proper removal is important, or you risk a serious tick haunting. But Barkley did not know this. And, as a result of his ignorance on this point, he refused to stay still and cooperate. It took about 15 minutes, with an assist from my fiancee, Alana, before we were able to get a good, solid grip on that tick in a way that guaranteed complete removal.

It felt like one of those intentionally over-tense scenes on a TV medical drama, where doctors are rushing around saying things like, “We’re losing him!” and “He’s flatlining here!” and “Live, dammit! Live!”

And how did Barkley thank us? How did he express his gratitude for saving him from being devoured by this tick? From the possibility of canine lyme disease? From the very real potential of a tick’s head living on inside him until both he and the head descended into total madness?

He peed on the floor a little bit. But, whatever, at least he was tick-free again.

— The Indoorsman