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  • Writer's picturehawaiichocolate

Varmint Run in

Early this morning I heard a few sounds that woke me up. One was a gentle rain. Ah, so peaceful, I just wanted to roll over and fall back asleep. The second was Lillie, outside with a critter bark going. Oh, no! I jumped out of bed and looked out the door. It was rainy and foggy, barely daylight and I could make her out at the edge of the pasture below the house. No matter what I called to her, she kept on barking and refused to leave. I knew the signs…critter of some kind. I grabbed my flashlight and a jacket and headed out. It was muddy from all the rain, which had now thankfully slowed to a mist.

Not a foot away from Lillie was a porcupine! Oh no. I imagined her covered in quills but couldn’t see any. I crept closer, not wanting to startle the porcupine further. Lillie refused to come and wanted to harass the poor thing which was very slow to do anything. I was worried that it was sick, but never having had a run in with a porcupine before, I didn’t know much about their behavior. I ran to the truck and grabbed my leash. The trick was getting close enough to Lillie but not close to the porcupine who puffed up and grunted anytime Lillie got closer. “Bad dog, come here” didn’t get us much further, but I was able to finally get close enough to snap on the leash and back away. Not so soon was Lillie’s stance and she refused to budge. I could now see a few quills in her nose and lower lips.

Golden retrievers can be pretty stubborn when they want to , so instead of tugging I got her excited and that got her moving forward. She was limping but I couldn’t find out any specific reason. I washed the mud from her paws and pads and inspected them, but found nothing unusual. I put her in the house and paced a bit. It was too early to go to a vet and the household was asleep. Eventually I went to the house to wake everyone up and find out who the local vet was. Rob said he’d get his shotgun and arrived a few minutes later in his PJ’s and slippers. When he saw it involved a walk however, he went back to bed. He said wait an hour or two and he’d pull the quills out with pliers. So I waited. I dozed off on the couch and dreamt that blood was spurting from the quills. I forced myself to wake up. Rob did indeed pull out the quills by clipping them first, then using a plier. They came out pretty easily. We searched Lillie’s mouth and could not find any inside her mouth. Lillie gratefully licked Rob’s hand. Today, she slept off the porcupine hangover and eventually was less stiff. We hand walked outside today because it rained on and off and I didn’t want her running wild on a muddy 23 acres.

The porcupine sauntered off somewhere, and hopefully will not be back. If I’d had a gun or bow I could of shot it, but nature lives on for now in the Hill Country.

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