Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Sunday
Jun172007

The Worm

And I’m not talking about that break dancing move that several of my closest male friends seem to think is a hysterical way to pass the time once the liquor bottle is empty and the sun’s nearly rising. I’m talkin’ worm. Squiggly, white, wet noodle looking suckers.

You’ll never view your dog’s ass in quite the same way once you’ve seen a worm slip and slide its way out for a breath of fresh air. I thought it was a piece of rice or maybe paper stuck to his furry little backside. During our morning walk I absently brushed it away with my hand and continued. Five minutes later, because Max is black and the little sucker was white, I noticed it was still there so I went to swipe it away again. But it wouldn’t brush away. I had to pluck the object off his backside. Thinking it was a piece of tape or some other such innocent item I brought it to my face for closer inspection.

AND IT MOVED.

The tiny grain of what I thought might be rice, perhaps from the stir fry we had for dinner, humped its way across my finger tip.
“HEEEEY!” I squealed. “That’s not riiiice!”
Serge turned back from walking just ahead of us in time to see me dementedly flipping around the finger with the worm like a three-year-old with an unwanted booger. “It moooved!” I shrieked.
“What moved?”
“The rice – I mean the – the maggot thing. There was a maggot on Max’s ass!”
“It wasn’t a maggot. It had to be a worm. Shit. Max has worms.”
“Worms? What d’ya mean worms?
“You know … WORMS. Dogs get worms.”
“I know. I just thought those were dirty dogs. Like, wild dogs.”
“Wild dogs?”
“Well … homeless dogs, or something.”
Serge rolled his eyes. “All dogs can get worms.”

Turns out, the RockBoy was right. Max had tapeworms. Adult tapeworms can apparently reach … wait for it … EIGHT INCHES in length within a dog’s intestine. It’s the last segments in the worm that are shed and often come out in the dog’s stool. Or, in my dog’s case, one will shoot out of his ass and cling to his hair, screaming for me to pluck it up and bring it within inches of my eyeball for inspection. It’s those segments (THE THING I WAS HOLDING!) that come out of the dog’s bum, the vet happily informed us, that contain the worm eggs.

We returned home from the vet armed with worm bomb pills which we promptly delivered to Max’s stomach via a piece of cheese. Then we waited. And of course, because it’s us and because we always expect the worst as our luck just happens to suck – or okay, maybe because we are idiots that never pay attention to instructions – because of all these things, we confused what the vet told us about getting rid of tapeworms.
WHAT HE SAID: Give Max the worm bomb and it will destroy the worm. The worm will dissolve within the intestine and Max will pass it along with his dog food. If the worm is left unchecked, it is possible it could move into his stomach. I’ve seen several cases where the worm irritates the stomach and the dog vomits the worm.
WHAT WE HEARD: The worm bomb causes Max to vomit up the worm.

We spent the next hour arguing over who would take Max for a walk. Because we knew, or thought we knew, what might come out. And neither of us wanted to witness the mother of all worms being upchucked by the dog. Each time I took Max out I would silently pray. Please, please, please don’t let it happen on my walk. Each walk was an excercise in courage. I could hardly sleep that night for fear I’d wake to hear Max retching and then I’d have to clean up a slithering, eight-inch worm from the kitchen tile.

The next morning I managed to feign sleep while Max whined, forcing Serge to leash up and take Max outside.
“It happened,” he said upon his return, eyes as big as silver dollars.
“What? You mean the mother worm? Max puked out the mother worm? What was it like? Was it big? How big? Did it move? Oh my God, DID IT MOVE?”
“Yeah, it was pretty big.” He whispered in horrified tones, like a vet experiencing Vietnam flashbacks. “It’s put me off pasta for the next few months.”
“Oh God. I’ll never let him lick me again.”
“Ha ha. KIDDING. While I was in the pet store buying bones I got to talking with the cashier about tapeworms. The lady said the worm bomb kills the worm which is then digested in Max’s body. It DISSOLVES! We’ll never see it. It’s probably already gone!”