Each summer, around July 1, Topaz and I are forced from the wooded trail which we run each day. The deer flies hatch and they are relentless. I can usually get by for a few days by spraying DEET every few miles upon myself and covering my face and head with a fine screen.
Topaz, however, cannot take care of himself.
I won't run paved roads with Topaz in the summer. Only a half dozen times a winter do I run roads with him. In the summer the heat is reflected off of the asphalt and he would suffer greatly. Not to mention that he would have to be on leash and the pounding isn't good on either of our joints.
Monday we ran upon the gravel road near my home. It goes through a wildlife sanctuary where Bald Eagles and nesting, living and feeding. There are Sand Hill Cranes, many other birds, many wildflowers, plenty of ponds for which Topaz can soak...but it is oh so boring. 7 miles of gravel, cars flying by, same old same old. I couldn't stand it.
Tuesday we went back to the wooded trail. Oh my heaven's. Topaz was a cloud of deer flies running down the trail with four legs. It was horrifying. He would stop dead in his tracks, roll over onto his back, do a back dance, while snapping at deer flies in the air. It was awful. I felt horrible dragging him out there.
When Topaz jumped into the back of my vehicle I brushed all of the deer flies out of his coat. There were hundreds. They were full of blood after feasting upon him.
When we arrived home I opened up the hatch, Topaz jumped out and there were 36 .. yes, I counted, 36 full, bloodied, dead deer flies that he had gnawed out of his coat. I guess I didn't get them all. I was resigned to run on the gravel.
Yesterday I ran the gravel and the deer flies had arrived there as well. Thousands were landing and biting Topaz. He was going crazy, biting in the air, rolling them off of him upon the gravel, soaking in the water trying to rid himself of them. There were layers upon layers of them embedded in his ears. I wanted to cry for him. I wanted to cry for me. He told me that a day running with deer flies is better than a day of no running at all :)
I went to Marties Farm and Feed yesterday to see if there was anything I could do for Topaz. Sure enough, the owner told me he uses Ultra Shield on his dogs, horses and himself! Well, with a name like ULTRA Shield I had to buy it. I was skeptical. The label reads that 98.40% of the ingredients are inert. It states that it is sweat resistant and waterproof for 17 days! It repels bees, wood ticks, deer ticks, mosquitoes, deer flies, gnats, chiggers, fleas, lice. etc. Too good to be true? Well, it smells good too! It is lightly scented with citronella. It comes in a trigger pump bottle, not an aerosol.
This morning before our run I began to spray Topaz. I sprayed his coat from the back to the shoulders, working the repellent into his coat. For his face I sprayed it onto a sock and then lightly went around his eyes and nose, his mouth. He didn't mind at all. He rolled over so that I could get his stomach and legs as well. It isn't greasy or oily. It actually has coat conditioners including aloe and lanolin. His coat looks nice.
OK, I decided we'd give it a try at the wooded trail. Out he jumped from the car, onto the trail. I held my breath. The deer flies found us. They were ricocheting off of my arms, legs, screen, sunglasses. They were hovering around Topaz. Hover, hover, hover...they weren't landing. THEY WERE NOT LANDING UPON HIM! I couldn't believe it. Oh happy days! We ran and ran. He was still a cloud of deer flies with legs, but they didn't bite. They just buzzed him. He never stopped to roll, he never bit at them in the air. They didn't bother him at all. He soaked in multiple ponds. I watched his ears closely. Would they now attack? No. Not one deer fly landed upon his coat.
I don't know if one application will really last 17 days, I don't know if it will irritate his skin in the future but for today..
Topaz is happy.