Rarely does there exist such a thing as a nice, easy, smooth dog walk. My family’s dogs (lovely and sweet though they can be) are of the rebellious type. they usually seek to strip me of my dominion over them, like unruly teenagers set on sticking their middle fingers up at the teacher.
Every time I take them to the off leash park there is some fun to be had; some mischief to be done. I have been yanked over and dragged across the snow and mud. I have chased after them bellowing their names repeatedly until my voice becomes hoarse and haggard as they race after a deer. They have invoked my revulsion by bringing me the corpses of birds, mice, and gophers; their tails wagging and their eyes shining with pride at their accomplishment. I have spent hours washing muddy coats and paws; removing burs, twigs, and essence of swamp. Dismayed though I may be at these things, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that they are having a happy and fun time, not to mention the reward which comes later: calm, tired, and sleeping doggies.
Of all the grievances I have experienced with these furry red creatures of mine, the worst is undoubtedly the pain in the ass that is meeting a porcupine. Because they do not like my dogs, and my dogs sure do not like them.
And unfortunately, during conflicts between the two, it is always the porcupine who comes out on top.
Let me now recount to you one such recent tale.
My mother and I, during the winter months, like to go walking in a reserved off leash dog park here in the city. This place is protected land and is a known home to all sorts of wild creatures like coyotes, deer, and, of course, porcupines. So on this particular day, when our hour and a half walk is nearing it’s end, and I am foolishly thinking myself vindicated from any unfortunate encounters, one of the dogs suddenly pricks up her ears. It’s Mai (the known trouble maker), and she has sensed some evil afoot. Her nose is high in the air sniffing away like mad, and before there’s anything to be done, she bolts off toward the mysterious scent. Would that she was the only one, but alas no, Mick and Timber, her cohorts, are hot on her tail as they could never miss out on such enticing action.
They are dogs on a mission. No amount of bellowing, whistling, crying, or bribing is going to deter them from their pursuit. At this point I can only hope they have smelled a fellow friendly dog and mean nothing more but to say hello, but within a few seconds, when the strained, panicked barking commences in full force, I give up hope entirely. In the pit of my stomach, I know- they have met a porcupine. As I make my way toward them, battling my way through mountains of freshly fallen snow, I start to convince myself that they will be smart enough to stay away, to keep their distance from the quills. With my mother beside me, the mission to bring these rebels to heel continues. As I trudge my way up the hill, I finally catch up to the commotion, and witness the scene before me. Three dogs and a porcupine in a very large and barren valley of snow. Two minutes ago I am just about to walk to my car and drive home for a nice cup of hot chocolate, and now here I am confronted with three dogs covered in various multitudes of quills, and one giant and very pissed off porcupine.
Time to assess the damage. Miss Mai, the instigator, has escaped relatively unscathed. I guess she learned from the last time, which ended up with her at the vet sedated on a table to ensure all the quills were removed. She has one or two sticking out from her nose which are easily removed. Mick is also relatively lucky, the quills on his face are the next to go. Timber, on the other hand….
What’s the extreme hate glare for, you ask? …..
Yeah, it’s for you Mister Porcupine.
Timber hates you.
I tried to get a little closer to take a picture of the the porcupine’s face, but he kept turning his back on me and I was paranoid he was going to blast all of his quills at me like some sort of porcupine-grenade. They can’t do that, right? I wasn’t about to test.