Ever exuberant, Max bounded through the grass, then dropped to the ground and began to roll back and forth furiously. The giant black fur ball tumbling across the landscape made me laugh, and the sound grabbed his attention. He bounded over to me for a bear hug, and I nuzzled him like I always do.
An hour later, I felt a small tingle on my neck. I scratched it. Then I moved on.
Another hour later, I felt a strange warmth below my face. I looked over to see my oldest son scrutinizing me over his pancakes.
“Mom, your neck is red,” he stated dryly. “Like, the reddest I've ever seen a neck.”
Knowing my son, I wasn't sure if I was headed for a punch line. Nonetheless, I got up to examine his observation.
When I looked in the mirror, I gasped.
My neck was flaming red. Confused, I deliberated where to turn to for guidance. So, I did what any competent adult would do.
I called my mother.
“Is it a bite?” she asked.
“Are you sick?”
“I don't think so.”
“Is it a rash or hives?” she inquired.
“What is the difference?” I responded, blowing my hair out of my face with exasperation.
“There is one,” she asserted. “Go get some cream at the pharmacy.”
Thirty minutes later, I generously slathered anti-itch cream all over my neck.
“You smell weird, Mommy,” my youngest son said with a giggle.
Grimacing, I continued to slather.
Two hours later, with my neck fiery enough to heat a small home, I sat in the doctor's office willing myself not to scratch. When the nurse entered the room, I exhaled with relief.
“Oh, my,” she said to me after one look. “That's….something!”
Concerned, I bit my lip.
“Scary?” I asked.
“Well….” she began pensively. “I wouldn't want it!”
I rolled my eyes as she left the room, contemplating whether I could rub my neck on the sharp counter corner for just a moment. That's when the doctor made his appearance.
“Wow!” he exclaimed.
A quick exam concluded contact dermatitis. As I returned home, I pondered what could have caused the debacle.
As I spotted Max, my neck gave an itch. And it all came rushing back.
Dog. Grass. Rolling. Hug.
As Max bounded toward me, I recoiled instinctively, eliciting laughter from all four of my family members.
Composing himself, my husband approached me.
“Neck rash culprit?” he asked, motioning to Max.
I nodded solemnly.
“Shower?” he asked next.
I nodded excitedly.
As the water streamed over me, I made a little decision. As much as I love my dogs, I concluded that a nice pat on the head would suffice in the future.