Who knew – dogs and porcupines don’t mix!
Well, ours don’t anyway!
After losing Bob, a much loved dog to coyotes, seeing a coyote not more than 80 ft from me in the vineyard in broad daylight, and waking to a coyote circling our chicken pen one morning, we decided to get pro-active in protecting our farm.
About the same time, friends were leaving the area and offered us their great Pyrenees, Cotton, whom they felt would make a good family dog and would adjust to us easier than a cross country move. Cotton very quickly adapted to our family and has become a valiant worker in protecting us from the coyotes. In fact, she worked all night running from one end of the property to the other and slept all day – the job was almost too much for her!
Realizing that she could use some help, we began looking on Craig’s list for another great Pyrenees. They are a popular dog breed here in west Texas but people do not realize just how active they are and how much room they need to run. So, there are frequent listings for them.
It did not take long for Cotton to adjust to Snowball – both female great Pyrenees. In a matter of minutes, Cotton had established her dominance and as long as Snowball remembers who is in charge, they get along just fine! Often, I hear them in the night barking in response to coyotes howling in the distance and, off they go on their protection patrol against them. They both run after the coyotes and they both sleep much of the day, but they watch each other’s back – they are a team!
They can handle their own against coyotes, but, porcupines seem to be a different story!
Last Saturday morning we woke to the photo you see above. Yes, that is Snowball with hundreds of porcupine quills in her mouth, jaw, face and neck. Cotton seemed to be the smarter of the two as she only had about 10 quills in her mouth. They were so pitiful – whimpering and growling in pain. And, can you imagine, neither were willing to sit still and pose for pictures!
It has been quite a science lesson! After researching online the best way to remove the quills, we decided to cut them off to about an inch and then pull them out. Once source reported that since the quills are hollow, cutting them relieves some pressure causing them to shrink thus allowing them to be easily pulled out. That all sounds well and good, but I am convinced that whoever wrote that, had never tried to put it into practice on a dog who is filled with quills and in pain!
We gave up cutting the quills since they broke off during the whole ordeal of fighting the dogs to get at them! Finally, after being hog tied and having boys sitting on them, the dogs realized that we were trying to help – as the quills were removed they calmed down and seemed resigned to the fact that this was indeed helping.
As you can see, there is no discernible barb on the end of the quills. The black end was sticking into the dogs. The other end is where the quill grew from the porcupine.
Now, you would think they would have learned their lesson – leave porcupines alone, or to put it another way, porcupines = pain.
But, you would be wrong – like we were!
On Monday morning, déjà vu - here we go again! This time, there were not as many – Cotton only had 3 and Snowball had about 15. You can see Cotton’s quills on the left in the above photo.
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! They have obviously never heard this saying. But what about a third time?
Yes, it happened again on Wednesday morning – Snowball tangled with a porcupine once more! I think she knew I was sharing this with you and she was humiliated that she had fallen for it again! Even though she only had about 10 quills in her mouth, there was no way she was letting me take another picture!
The third times the charm!
Maybe Cotton and Snowball are learning. After all, the number of quills is getting less with each meeting. In fact, Cotton left the porcupine alone the last time. Snowball, well, we will see!