I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. One of these spring nights, when the skunks and porcupines have come out of hibernation, there will be another domestic vs. wild animal confrontation. Hard to say which is worse - the overpowering stench of skunk spray that lingers for days, a late night shampooing of a resistant dog in the cold outdoors, scrubbing with "Skunk-Kleen"... or the nighttime world wrestling event between an entire family and a supernaturally powerful canine victim.
Guster and Kate trotted happily in the door last night, unpierced. Clara, the youngest, appeared a few minutes later with a little goatee of quills in her chin. It doesn't look like much, just a tiny cluster. But we had learned from experience. J, T, and I spent the next sweaty, hair-raising hour getting 20 quills out of sweet Clara's face. We finished covered in dog hair. Shedding is one symptom of dog fear, along with the exuding of a particular oily scent.
I remember another day - my neighbor and I went through a similar experience de-quilling Guster. Hey, he's only about 40 pounds; we should be able to overpower him easily. Wrong. Where there's a quill, there's a way. That's the dog motto.
And two back to back evenings long ago - with 5 family members in residence (fortunately) - we went through a de-quilling extravaganza with all three dogs two nights in succession. Five humans, three dogs, one porcupine. Two very long evenings.
If you have the stomach for it, take a look at this link to a pit bull named Inca who refused to give up her fight against a porcupine. (she was okay in the end, by the way) In some dogs, the hunting instinct prevails no matter what the consequences. We have wondered if Clara has some pit bull in her, but this photo of Inca makes me think she is more lab than anything. Thank goodness.
Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, quill removal is a memorable family bonding activity. We were draped over this flailing 80 pound beast that we love, working together in compassionate determination towards a shared goal. Everyone finished in a lather of sweat, a little blood, a few bruises, and lots of dog hair. Shared accomplishment is a great thing.
Clara reminded me a lot of our dear lab Ella. Despite her pain and resistance, she was trying to be good through her flinching. The tail was still wagging when we were done, so somehow she seems to understand that we meant her no harm.
Has she learned her lesson? Doubtful. Time will tell, and we'll keep the pliers handy.
It was below freezing this morning, a little frost on the ground, mist on the pond. I love this time of year.
As the rising sun moves further north, I'm having more and more trouble avoiding the smokestack across the river in my photos. It appears that the day may come when the sun is rising exactly in line with the stack. Oh well. That's the world I live in.