This morning at 7am I ran out into the woods in my nightgown with a big stick and put myself between our dog, Helgi, and a porcupine. The two animals faced off for about 10 minutes, the dog barking and wheeling, the porcupine scurrying in circles, and me in the middle, screaming my head off, trying to keep Helgi back. He is a giant Alaskan malamute weighing in at 120 pounds and possessed of extreme tenacity when it comes to hunting. For the fifth time in two months he tried to bite that porcupine and got another mouthful of quills. The pokey creature took the opportunity to scoot over to our house. He found a corner of our porch and stood there like a bad student. He didn’t move, possibly trying to camouflage himself, but he was breathing heavily, the halo of his quills pulsing up and down like a shivering star.
Our kids woke from their beds; saw their mom with a big stick, their barking dog, and the pokey creature on the porch. They ran through the woods in their pajamas to get Dan, who was already in the woodshop working. He is currently building a series of mirrors to be exhibited at The Grand Hand Gallery for a furniture show beginning in September.
Disruptions like these are pretty much par for the course out here, and he came promptly home, racing back in the golf cart with the kids. Helgi was still trying to get the porcupine, I was still hoping around with my stick, and the porcupine was still pretending invisibility. Dan got the dog tied up and assessed the damage: Three over-turned flower pots, a dog full of quills, and a frightened animal who had cost us nearly a grand in vet bills.
We have co-existed with this creature for over ten years, and all three of our dogs have been quilled by him multiple times. The vet told us he is an old guy, one of the most mature porcupines he has seen, judging from the quills. Though it is common for dogs to go back for a second quilling, I’ve never seen a dog as determined as Helgi. He’s been through a great deal of pain this summer, not to mention the recovery required after the double-dose of tranquillizers needed to knock him out. Pulling his quills is like digging around in the mouth of a lion, and we did not relish the thought of doing it again.
After some thinking and weighing of options, Dan took a large box and a shovel and approached the porcupine. He managed to nudge him inside, carried the box over to the golf cart, strapped it down, and drove to his furniture delivery van. He loaded in the porcupine. With the kids still in their pj’s who insisted on coming with, they all took a drive to a lush and remote spot. It was reported to me later that the porcupine clung to his box, afraid to get out. When he finally did realize his freedom, the old fellow waddled swiftly away and disappeared into the trees.
I hope for all our sake’s that this was goodbye.