Foxtails: Blessing or Curse?
I was reading an article the other day about foxtails and the dangers they pose to our pets. We live in an area where there are a LOT of foxtails – on almost every trail we take Jack & Maggie they are growing wild alongside the trail. Once they start to dry, they can become very dangerous as the pod or ‘awn’ as it is called easily attaches itself to the dog’s hair and because they are barbed, they eventually can work their way into crevices or they may be inhaled or even swallowed. I’m sure you all recognize foxtails. When I was looking on the web for a some photos to share I saw some really scary pictures of dogs being almost infested with them and causing considerable damage. It’s a real safety issue for our dogs.
It’s important to be aware and thoroughly check and groom your dog if they’ve been running or hiking in an area with foxtails as they can be very dangerous. Check their ears, between the toes, under their tail. Depending on the color of your dog, they can be hard to see, so run your hands over your dog as well.
But for all that warning, I am thankful to foxtails. Why would I be thankful for something that’s dangerous you ask? Well, foxtails played an integral part in the rescue of our dog Tino and his brother Bernie.
We had been trying to rescue these two dogs for four days from a wildlife area in Los Angeles. We weren’t having very much luck convincing them we meant only safety and not harm, so they were very wily at taking our treats, but eluding our capture.
On our fourth attempt, we drove up to the lot where we usually found them and were scanning the tree line looking for them. We quickly spotted Bernie lying in the grass with Tino hovering nearby. When we approached, they scampered off, but we immediately saw Bernie’s foot was swollen, he could not bear any weight on it and was in obvious pain. He was not able to run away from us, so we were able to capture him and place him gently in our SUV.
While Tino still wanted no part of us, he wasn’t about to leave the area when we had his brother. It took us another couple of hours and a few more people helping out, but we eventually caught Tino too.
Turned out, yes, Bernie had a foxtail in between his toes which had caused the swelling and rendered him incapacitated enough that we could catch him. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have been able to and may eventually have given up trying to rescue them. Seeing as they both had distemper and without our medical intervention they would have both died a slow, painful death from the disease, we truly rescued them from death’s door.
So, say what you will about foxtails, they usually are a curse, but for Bernie & Tino – they were a blessing. I’m grateful for them for giving us Tino for 13 years and allowing us to give Bernie a few weeks in a loving home and a peaceful journey to his next adventure. (We euthanized Bernie about four weeks after the rescue when he developed seizures from the distemper.)