My Dog is a Dangerous Weapon

Sure, she looks cute. And fluffy. And sweet.

But she’s a catastrophe hiding in fur.

My dog is a dangerous weapon.

Let me tell you why.

Honey the golden retriever plays with a stick.

The only thing I’m dangerous to is that stick in your hand.

A Walk in the Park

Sunday was a beautiful day. Why not take Honey for a walk in the park?

Honey’s a good walker. She doesn’t pull. She matches my pace. She stays to the paved path.

Until something catches her nose.

She moves to the edge of the path to explore the new smell. I look over to see her getting dangerously close to a shiny triad of leaves. Uh oh. Poison ivy.

“Honey, leave it.”

She does. And returns to me cheerfully. I think nothing more about it until the next day—when I find an itchy rash on my left pinky, my right pointer finger, my left nostril, under my left arm, and on both sides of my neck and chin.

Arggggh. I have poison ivy. And I could have only gotten it from the dog.

Honey the golden retriever looks at my poison ivy.

What do you mean, “Back, evil dog!”

Pet the Dog; Itch Your Face

I know I’m allergic to poison ivy. I work hard to avoid exposure.

I haven’t touched actual poison ivy leaves in years. And yet I regularly get the poisonous pustules.

If Honey brushes against some leaves, the oil sticks to her fur. Once I touch her, the oil transfers to my skin causing an allergic reaction.

Although the damage has been done. I’m finding it hard to pet Honey.

She’s no longer my sweet little dog. She’s a dangerous weapon.

Honey the golden retriever looks pretty by the lake.

Why don’t we agree that I’m not a dangerous weapon and you’re just a wimp.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

As soon as I saw Honey sniffing near the poison ivy, I should have handed her over to Mike to wash her fur off in the creek. And then I should have put myself in dog-free quarantine for a week just to be safe.

But instead, I forgot how horrible my last encounter with poison ivy felt and I pet my dog anyway.

My beautiful, sweet, cuddly, dangerous weapon.

Your Turn: Do you ever feel like your dog is trying to kill you? Do you have any boffo home remedies to dry up a poison ivy rash?

Just a quick note to thank everyone for their kind emails and Facebook comments while I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging. I’m feeling my way slowly to see what I can do. But I’ve missed writing for you and reading your clever and fun comments.

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  1. First off – welcome back – missed you. Secondly, Steve has the same issue, although out here it’s poison oak. It grows alongside one of the trails he runs the dogs and gets it from petting them. Luckily it doesn’t seem to bother me, so I get to wash them off when they return, but he still gets 3-4 rashes a year from it.

  2. Ugh. Sorry about the poison ivy. How miserable.

    It’s nice to see you in my inbox again — but no pressure. As someone who disappeared from dog blogging for a year, I can only say do what you need to do. The pet blogosphere is amazingly understanding of all kinds of needs. We live with strange beings, after all.

  3. Oh no! I hope it dries up quickly for you.

  4. Also, I have heard homemade lye soap really helps, if you know anyone that makes it.

  5. Thanks for your post! I find your blog so helpful and insightful (and fun) – it’s good to have you back!

    Maybe you have some advice for me. This will be our first poison ivy season with our puppy, and since we frequently spend time outdoors around poison ivy, I’ve been wondering people deal with the poison ivy oil/fur problem. Does the oil wash off dog fur with just water? How do people handle it if they drive to the park and end up with oil-exposed fur? Doesn’t the oil get inside the car on the way home? (Can you tell I’ve been thinking through this?)

    • Should I read between the lines and understand you’re as sensitive to poison ivy as I am? I’m so sorry.

      Last year our campsite in Cape Cod was surrounded by poison ivy. I continuously wiped Honey down with wet wipes and managed to avoid getting a rash. So I’m guessing I had a pretty good idea.

      Most of those packaged wipes contain alcohol which is a recommended way of keeping the oil from spreading.

      Maybe you want to try it and let me know if it works for you?

  6. Welcome back!
    I actually haven’t had any encounters with poison ivy, so I’m no help. Maybe fire up the bat signal? (Ha – super lame and nerdy superhero reference.)
    Though Alma got a tick once, and even after it was all gone, I found it hard to pet her for a couple of weeks after – bugs just gross me out so much!

    • Ooooh, Jen, are you a Bat freak too? I actually had quite a huge collection of comics myself. Used to really freak the nerd boys in the comic book shop out to see someone that looked like their mom picking up her regular stash. :)

      • Ha! I can’t claim to be a huge comic book nerd, but when I was little the old school Adam West Batman was my favourite TV show!

  7. Welcome back! Definitely missed you!

    I feel your pain as I am allergic to it as well, and get it from my dogs every year! Even worse, it can stay on things like shoes/garden tools for a couple of years! Long enough you forget and then you catch it again. Arghhh! I also get it when the park trail behind my house gets mowed, the poison ivy along with the grass, and then the cuttings dry. That dusty residue gives it to me as well.

    An old fashion remedy that helps me is Fels Naptha soap.(
    Wet the bar and then rub it on the itchy spots but don’t rinse it off. Let it dry. Do it a couple times a day and it does help. As a kid, I used to get poison ivy so badly I needed steroids. The doctor did tell me that poison ivy runs its course in your body just like a cold, clearing up in 7-10 days. Of course the trick is to not re-infect yourself!

    Hold you stop itching soon!

    • Thanks for the tip, Taryn. I never found that one online. But I use Fels Naptha for stains and will give it a shot today. Hope it works for me.

  8. It’s really hard to resist petting your dog isn’t it- poison ivy risk or not.

    I carry a small pack of baby wipes to wipe me and the dog- not that order – after suspected contact. I’ve been lucky so far since I started.

    When I haven been as lucky salt baths/soaks do help (great reason for a trip to the beach I say) and smearing toothpaste (not gel) on the rash helps dry it up too. It certainly smells better than calamine lotion and does dry out my skin as much.

    • *doesn’t

    • Thanks for the toothpaste tip. It does seem to help. I was using baking soda but it flakes off and gets into my computer keyboard when I’m working.

      The toothpaste looks ridiculous too. But at least I smell minty fresh. :)

  9. Kelly Ann T. says:

    There are paw wipes especially for dogs that you can use to get the oil off and it will not dry the dogs skin out. Reader’s Digest has some great suggestions on home remedies for poison ivy.

    • I got my husband to wipe Honey down good with some doggy wipes we had. Hopefully that will keep me from getting more outbreaks in new spots.

      I read the Reader’s Digest article. But it was funny to see they weren’t really standing behind everything on the list.

  10. I am so glad you are back to writing, I missed you! But to your question….nope, never felt that way. LOL

  11. Sorry I have no home remedies. Glad to see you back. I recently returned from a blogging break as well. Hope everything’s okay!

  12. Welcome back, Pamela. It’s wonderful to see you writing again.

    Re: poison ivy, pets and possibilities, Jewelweed is your friend. Some claim it will cure poison ivy and I think it helps but what it really does best is, if used soon enough after exposure, it can help prevent the appearance of “poisonous pustules” completely.

    We have it growing wild around the house so I’m always running over to a patch of it, breaking the stem and rubbing the slightly gooey liquid on my hands or face or feet. But you can also buy it in a soap form (or even make your own) so I regularly use it in the shower after I’ve been out in the yard for a day.

    Oh, and to help ease the itch of the stuff you already have, try Athlete’s Foot spray. Or take a dip in the ocean (probably not a helpful tip for the landlocked among us.) :)

    • I had heard of jewel weed before. But I’ve never seen it for sale locally, even with all the herbalists we have here in Ithaca. I guess I should invest in some from an online gardening site.

      Someone also suggested plantain for general itchiness. I have it in plentiful supply. But it didn’t help with the no see um bites I came back from Panama with.

      BTW, I know the ocean would help. If we weren’t already going freshwater sailing next week, I’d definitely suggest an emergency trip to Cape May for medicinal purposes. :)

  13. We only try to kill Mom when we see a squirrel or wabbit. All three of us go and she has to try to remain upright and hang on to us. So far so good, though.

    • We should probably make sure your Mom never tries to walk all three of you while she’s skateboarding, huh? :)

  14. I feel your pain, but I could lie in a bed of poison ivy and nothing would happen. My dogs’ murderous attempts are more obvious. They love to do a Maypole dance around my legs when we are walking.

    • I find that hard to believe. After all, if you’re injured, who would wait on the alpha poodle and her companions in crime?

  15. I’m so glad you’re back! But don’t let us pressure you into doing too much.

    Silas’s methods are much more direct. Because he’s something of a risk to let off leash, I *have* to hold on no matter what. I cannot tell you how many parks I’ve careened through faster than I can scan the ground for obstacles when he decides to bolt after something. I don’t know how people with bigger dogs do it.

  16. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    I feel your pain! We’ve got both poison oak, ivy, sumac and something here called Virginia Creeper that a small part of the population is allergic to as well. Guess who’s part of that small population? The witchy thing about VC is that it doesn’t follow the “leaves of three” rule. It’s got five, so it took the Dr’s a while to figure out what was wrong with me since hubs hadn’t sprayed it with weed-killer like he did all the three-leaves. Other plants you should know and be aware of when you’re really allergic to poison ivy: Start keeping a bar of Dial Soap with you–the old original orange bar. If you think you’ve come in contact with with poison ivy, wash well with the soap within 15 minutes of contact, and it will often prevent breaking out. For some reason, Dial is one of the things that will strip the poisonous-oil off of skin and hair.

    Have really, really missed you. Glad to see you back, but take it easy!

  17. Ugh….I used to get poison ivy all the time when I was a teenager, and it was AWFUL (I’m allergic too). I usually got it from my cats (I know this because it was always the inside of my forearms where it started).
    I haven’t had it for years, so either I’ve avoided it successfully, or built up some kind of immunity. Knock wood!
    PS….glad you are back, I was worried about you for a while there!

  18. Good to read you again. I, too, am on an unplanned hiatus and am anxious to get back to blogging.
    Fortunately, so far in my life, I’m not allergic to poison ivy, oak, etc. Even the escapees who go through the woods after whatever don’t bother me after I pet them on their return (except when I discover they rolled in pony manure. Eew!).

  19. Glad you’re back among us! I’ve missed you! Just don’t pressure yourself to do too much — easy does it — we all understand, and support each other.

    Sorry, no remedies for you…my garden gloves have always been enough to protect me from poison ivy; and even when the dogs brush against it and then me, it doesn’t give me any trouble. I guess all the food allergies I had as a kid boosted my immune system — along with the cortisone shots for the worst outbreaks.

    Ducky’s always trying to kill me when I have her on her leash. I’m used to it, so it’s not as easy for her any more.

  20. I had a good friend in grade school whose mother was extremely allergic to poison ivy. There was a chair that only she was allowed to sit in and a phone that nobody else could touch. I’ve always just covered myself in calamine lotion to survive poison ivy reactions. I hope you’re feeling less itchy soon!

    And it’s good to see you back! :)

  21. Great to see you back Pamela! Move to New Zealand :) That’s the best cure because we don’t have it here. I had no idea Poison Ivy has an oil that can get on dog or cat fur and then onto human skin. I thought it was like Stinging Nettle and you had to rub against it with your own skin. Nasty stuff. Hope you find a remedy in the suggestions above.

  22. Welcome back! I was happy to see your post in my blog roll this morning. I’m on a bit of a break too. Life happens, you know? Sorry to hear about the poison ivy. I’m very allergic to it, and find that benadryl tablets and calamine lotion help. Some.

  23. When I walk the dogs in the woods, I generally give them a gentle rinse with the hose when we get back, just in case.

    I do have a soap that I get from Milos, and you wash the area with that and pat it dry. It helped my husband the last time he had PI and like you he gets is bad. There is also a wash you can use and if you wash with it within 20 minutes of exposure it will prevent the rash. But I don’t know if off the top of my head and it won’t help you now anyhow. Once husband had it so bad he needed steroids to calm it.

  24. Welcome back Pamela! Hope you are doing OK. I’m extremely allergic to poison ivy and we have quite a bit of it around here with the lakes and all. I have to get a prescription, because nothing else really works after a get it.

    I have used Fels Naptha laundry soap to wash off the oils and rinse in the hottest water possible. It seems to work, unless I don’t know that I’ve made contact, then I’m screwed. lol

    I know how awful poison ivy is and hope you feel better soon.

  25. Our dogs just try to kill us with toys! No better place to leave them except doorways and main walkways, you know. Haven’t had poison ivy or oak for years but always used calamine lotion to calm it down. Welcome back and feel better soon.

  26. We use this old fashioned remedy called Ivy Dry, it looks like it was invented 500 years ago but you can still find it on the pharmacy shelves. Other than covering yourself and/or your dog head to toe, I know of no other way to prevent things like this!

  27. Welcome back!

  28. Nice to see you back, although perhaps under better circumstances next time. I’m trying to think of anything that my dogs could be doing to try and kill me but I can’t think of anything which either means I am safe or they have gone all secret commando on my ass and I will never see it coming and they will not be suspected!

  29. It’s nice to see you again.
    We don’t get poison ivy, but the processionary caterpillar is abundant at certain times of the year and needs to be avoided by dogs and bipeds.

  30. I loved this story. How cute!
    I really needed something to smile about!

  31. Elka pulled me over once in an icy driveway, and she’s pulled other members of the household over on the front steps. Not Fun. And one day, somebody’s gonna die on Gumby or a Kong. Other than that, though, she’s fairly safe 😉