20 Sep 2013


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Our dogs had fewer quills above the nose, but more overall.

Our dogs get an outdoors “last call” every evening just before we retire for the night. Last night, shortly after they went out, cries of pain erupted from out of doors. Karen hurried to retrieve the dogs who were found both engaged in close combat with a particularly large, fat porcupine.

The dogs arrived back indoors with mouths and noses loaded with quills. The tazy had a load in his upper mouth and was particularly in pain. The basset hound, despite all the quills, was reluctant to give up the chase and came in grudgingly. Even his chest was loaded with quills.

We are, by no means, unpacked and well organized here at the Pennsylvania farm we have not visited for over a decade. Fortunately, Karen managed to come up with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. We were then handicapped by Presbyopia and limited lighting on the stairs, where we tried pinning down our first victim. It was a struggle de-quilling the basset hound. The most painful quills to remove were those in the mouth and nose, and Cadet put up a surprisingly effective resistance (for a French dog). Finally, we got down to one deeply buried small quill in the lower jaw (which it was impossible to grip) and gave up and turned to work on the tazy.

Poor Uhlan had been up dancing on our bed, bleeding and drooling, and driving in his quills deeper. The struggle was fiercer with Uhlan. There were only two of us, and there was one of him. Moreover, Cadet started returning to his rescue, barking at us for hurting his brother, and intruding into the growing pile of pulled quills littering the stairs. There I was, on the middle landing, trying to pin the tazy’s body against the stone wall with mine, using my hands to try hold his head still, as Karen worked on capturing the quills. There were blood and quills everywhere. He was relatively cooperative about letting us take the quills out of his upper mouth. But when we got down to the last half dozen or so quills, largely concentrated in his nose and lips, he just went wild, shaking his head furiously, squirming out of my wrestling holds, and not in the least cooperating. Cadet also continued to interfere. Uhlan proved to be just too strong for us and, eventually, dogs and humans were all exhausted.

Miraculously though, when Karen began to try calling 24-hour veterinary services, one, just a few miles away in Warriors Mark, quickly returned her call. What do you know? You can get hold of a vet at 11:30 at night in Central Pennsylvania. Uhlan is still unused to cars, so Karen sat holding him in the back seat of the BMW, but Cadet is a veteran automobile traveler and actually has been hankering recently for more rides in the car. Warriors Mark is less than 10 miles away, just over the Bald Eagle Ridge in Sinking Valley.

The vet gave Uhlan good drugs, a sleeping potion followed by a pain-killing opiate. He sank slowly in the West, as the vet tried unsuccessfully to get that last under-the-chin quill out of poor Cadet. It is going to have to work its way out over time. Meanwhile, Cadet will be taking antiseptic medication. Uhlan resisted the drugs, but the second dose did for him. His eyes rolled white, his tongue hung limp, and he lolled there unresisting as the vet (a Polish lady from the same Eastern Pennsylvania Coal Region as myself with a degree from Michigan State) plucked out the remaining quills with a hemostat. Like Cadet, Uhlan had driven one small quill in so deep that it could not be grasped, and he, too, will have to let it work itself out. The vet then gave Uhlan another shot which turned off his sleeping potion, and in just a few minutes he woke back up.

It was a late and gruelling evening for everyone. Karen heroically policed up fallen porcupine quills before letting the dogs ascend the stairs to bed. She even cleaned up most of the blood. We found, when we finally arrived upstairs, that Uhlan had managed to cover Karen’s pillow with drool and blood, while we were working on Cadet.

There was a certain amount of nocturnal wimpering coming out of the dog kennels in the bedroom during the night, and Cadet woke up eventually demanding an outdoor lavatory break, but things were more peaceable over night on the whole than one might have expected. By morning, the dogs actually seemed no worse for wear, though when they came back from their morning run, both dogs took their customary milk bone dog biscuit from my hand very slowly and very carefully. Sore mouths.

3 Feedbacks on "Porcupined!"

john szabo

Two boxers we acquired from my son went through the same scenario their first year here.
We have the luxury of a 24/7 pet ER in Spokane, just 10 min. away, but it’s still traumatic to handle a porcu’ attack. I couldn’t imagine the all around trauma at you farm-ER.


This was in Pennsylvania? How odd – I’m from Ohio and always had the idea that porcupines were found farther north. I’ll have to keep an eye on our idiot beagle, I think. She’s perfectly capable of launching herself at a porcupine.

Of Dogs and Porcupines and the New West – Stephen Bodio

[…] David Zincavage’s tazi Uhlan (see below) and his basset got into a porcupine a couple of days ago in Pennsylvania, and the usual mayhem followed. […]


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