Friday, February 4, 2011

Things die in the heat. A perfectly reasonable explanation for my sisters, followed by a cautionary tale for dog lovers.

First, The Explanation.

Dear Sisters 1 and 2,

I'm so sorry I wasn't able to skypechat yesterday. I was too busy having a day in hell.

The weather this week has been, to quote a dear friend, Ms Karla, "HAWT!"

While nervous friends up north were hiding in their bathroom, waiting for Cyclone Yasi to hit, here in Sydney, we've been sweltering in an unprecedented stretch of hot days. In the daytime, it's been in the high 30s. In the nights, a muggy high 20s. It's been hard to breathe. I've started to carry a little towel with me because I'd rather look uncouth mopping my armpits in public, than have sweat constantly pooling at my feet.

Yesterday was the first day of The Year of The Rabbit. But I forgot because I was too busy fighting off maggots. Yes, Maggots.

I first noticed them when I was giving Rufus his post-walk, morning wipe down. "Hmmm, is that a maggot on the floor, Rufus?"

Then I saw another.

And another.

And a few in his fur.

And more under the doormat. And in the crevices between the pavers outside.

And then, an entire army. Near his bed. On his bed. Under his mat. On the floor. In the goove of the french doors. Under the rugs.

To say I was freaked out would be an understatement. I couldn't decide if the copious amount of sweat that was running off my body was from the heat or FEAR. [I put the FEAR in capital letters because I'm actually 100% sure that's what it was.]

Yes, I know maggots are a bit of a delicacy here. Fresh off the bark, or panfried in dollops of butter. I have yet to sample it and can tell you now, I never will. Not even to win a million dollars on Survivor. 

I'd rather sleep in a bed full of snakes any day. Truly, because I happen to like snakes A Lot. And please don't tell me that maggots are just tiny snakes, Mr Other Half, because they're not, not, NOT!

And so began, The Great Maggot Mystery.

A few possibilities instantly sprang to mind.

1. The maggots had come out from the garbage bin at night and crawled into Rufus's fur as he lay sleeping like a baby next to it, on the cool kitchen floor. [Still a possibility. The bin was instantly emptied, hosed down and disinfected. We're going to be emptying it out Every Night from now on.]

2. He had a wound somewhere that was now infected. [No, we didn't find any. But he now has a lot less fur because I trimmed it all back while looking. Not that you would notice, but he has 4 bags less fur now than at the start of summer!]

3. He picked up the maggots while out on his walk, perhaps from a rotting rat or possum. [We didn't find any in the car, so probably not.]

4. There was something dead in the house. [Could be, but if so, we still can't see it.]

5. Eggs from Something Horrible had hatched overnight. [Definitely could be. Another friend, Ms Roberta, says her flat has lately been invaded by moth maggots and they're even in her pantry.]

I wish I could tell you that we now have the answer. But one day later, after looking up at the ceiling, behind curtains, under rugs, tables and chairs, and inside the pantry and oven, we're no closer to finding The Source.

You'd think it'd be easy to sniff out a dead body [if indeed there was one] but it's not, because there's a pervasive bad smell in the air. Things are just rotting everywhere in the heat.

But, back to the maggots, because I'm finding it hard to think of anything else at the moment.

For such tiny things, they moved Very Fast. They were also unkillable. I tried salt. Haha. I quickly jumped a few steps and moved up to the most potent commercial insect killer I could find. Spraying directly on them had no effect. A little squirm. Then off they went on their merry way. Squeezing them didn't seem to hurt either. They must have very pliable bodies. In fact, the only thing that worked was to poke them until you felt them pop. Heaven help me, WHAT kind of bug produces maggots like these?

I spent last night in fear that things might drop from the ceiling into my open snoring mouth or crawl into my defenceless ears. If I could have stuffed all my orifices with tissue and survived not breathing for 6 hours, I would have. How The Other Half managed to pass out in a maggot-infested house is beyond me. It must be a man thing.

This morning when we woke up, I was too afraid to go downstairs for fear of what I might see. But some good news at last! We've found less than 10 so far! But my mind is on Code Red High Alert! My eyes are still anxiously glued to the floor and furnishings, constantly scanning for any slight movement that might signify another alien invasion into my sacred space.

I can't believe I've spent an hour and hundreds [thousands?] of words re-living yesterday. But, dear Sisters, I had to tell you why I was in such a crappy mood yesterday and not able to skypechat.

As you can imagine, I'm also trying hard not to remember that the 1st day of the new year usually sets the tone for the rest of the year. THAT would be So Very, VERY Bad if true.

MUCH LOVE [despite her great trepidation at what lies ahead, under the rug and for the next 364 days] -

your bunny in the headlights Sister 3.


This is The Cautionary Tale bit.

The Other Half was told this sad story yesterday by someone he met at the dogpark.

A man who lives in the area took his german shepherd out on The Bay Run [presumably sometime during the day]. The dog collapsed from heatstroke and, despite veterinary intervention, it died.

This terrible loss serves as a timely reminder for all of us, that dogs are incredibly sensitive to heat. Yes, even short-haired dogs.

They are susceptible to heatstroke. Can get sunburnt. May have respiratory problems. And can get their pawpads burnt on hot roads and pavements. [You can read all about this and what you can do, in the link below.]

Ever since summer started, The Other Half has been taking Rufus and Georgia out at 6 in the morning. Some mornings, you can already feel the heat in the air, though the sun is not yet fully out. In the evenings, we've been going out later and later. Never earlier than 6. This last week, no earlier than 7. Some evenings, they miss their walks entirely because it's just too hot and hard for them to breathe. Georgia is, of course, NOT HAPPY about getting just 1 walk a day. But what can you do? We'd rather she be mad with us and throw a tantrum, than suffer a heatstroke on a walk.

I see on the weather thingy on my computer that we're in for a muggy weekend. Tomorrow, it says, will be another 41degreeC day. It's Saturday. A day when lots of dogs come out to play, usually late in the morning because it's also sleep-in day for most people.

I do hope we won't be hearing any more sad stories next week.


Compulsory reading for the dog days of summer. If you know someone with a dog, perhaps you'd like to share this link.

UPDATE February 10th
Just heard from a neighbour down the road that she found maggots on her kitchen counter the very same day. Apparently, there was a big infestation out Randwick way too, where she used to live. She reckons they're fly maggots, as does Ms Juliette.

PLUS, her cats have been depositing 1 rat a day at her doorstep lately.

HAH! and Hurrah! in a purely selfish way. It's not that our little house is a filthy dump after all!


Chapeuzinho said...

aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh! MAGGOTS! v.o.m.i.t.

I completely understand not being able to sleep, every arm hair blown in the breeze of the fan would have me squealing in horror.

I couldn't sleep for hours on Tuesday night because I convinced myself zombies were going to invade my house and kill my family. I have an over active, heat-stressed imagination.

I also have a towel on the desk infront of the keyboard to deal with the sweat dripping from my elbows. Ain't summer fun?

Gung hai fat choi, may your new year be maggotless.

georgia little pea said...

to you too! THAT is the best wish one could hope for under the circumstances :)

oh yeah, the arm hair blowing - i get that completely! stray hair falls on shoulder... EEEKKK! MAGGOT!

p.s.i'm so glad someone else has a towel.

Karen Friesecke said...

EEEEWW Maggots :( That would gross me out, too! A really good first aid remedy for dogs suffering from heat stroke is to ice down the gential and anus area and NOT give the dog water. I have never had to do this, but I understand that it is good emergency treatment.

georgia little pea said...

do NOT give water? that's good to know!

Chandra said...

Um, isn't it supposed to be the year of the RABBIT?!

I'm really impressed by equally nauseous and sad this two-parter made me. (My husband actually walked by and saw my face while I was reading and asked if I was okay!) I know that all of us would gladly eat maggots in a second to avoid losing our dog to heat stroke so thanks for having the presence of mind after the mystery maggot tour to give us the link to share to help keep them safe.

Mr. Thumper certainly had a whopper of a bad hair day but can you tell him I think he's just as handsome as ever? (Self esteem is very important for the older set!)

c at ddy.

georgia little pea said...

i will certainly tell him, ms chandra! it doesn't look that bad, i think. yesterday was just 1 bag. the other 3 were collected over the last 2 months. nothing seems to make a dent really.

it's the end of the day now. all still good. no more new maggots. gulp.

Kristine said...

Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew. Just EWWWWWW! I am so sorry about the maggots. Really. I hope you have gotten rid of them at this point because I'd rather not hear about them again. Yuck! But my sympathies. I don't think I'd be able to sleep for months after that!

Heat stroke is a very scary thing. Last summer Shiva was sick for a few days as a result of a large heat wave in the city. It was pretty scary as she is almost always so perfectly healthy. Poor dog. If she'd only go in the bloody water...

I am so sorry there has been so much unhappiness going on. Indeed I hope it gets much cooler and all that mad weather you've been having ceases. It's too much for any human or dog to bear.

georgia little pea said...

You get heat waves too??? And you're having blizzards at the moment? The weather has gone MAD :(

juliette said...

via email -

Your maggots sound horrific, like you I'd be paranoid (particularly as my biggest fear are snakes - I can hardly bear to type the word) so hope they go away - can't imagine what has caused these -my husband says maggots are the lavae of flies, who need somewhere to lay their eggs and usually on dead rodents in attic spaces - is this possible in your case? The maggots then come off the dead rodents and lterally worm their way into the house - horrible, so if so check attic. Hope that hasn't scared you too much!

You've got heat, all we have here in UK is bloody rain!!

Anonymous said...

via email -

You poor thing. Shudder. Maggots. Aliens. Rats and snakes. What next?

Hope all's good now, Sister 1.