(715) 399-0133

9532 S. County Road A
Superior, WI 54880 USA

Porcupine in a Box

porcupine standing in the corner

Porcupine standing in the corner.

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.

dog quilled by porcupine

Helgi and the porcupine round one.

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.

dog quilled by porcupine

Helgi and the porcupine round two.

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.

porcupine in a tree

The same porcupine five years ago, where he was treed by our previous dog.

porcupine in a box

Dan loading the porcupine-in-a-box onto the golf cart.








porcupine box going for a ride

The porcupine in the box going for a ride.

Helgi – after round five – saying goodbye porcupine.



7 Responses so far.

  1. Renee VanHorn says:

    Good gravy ! Hopefully that porcupine will NOT find it’s way back to your house ! When I was a kid one of our dogs bit one ….. it was awful ! He laid still as can be and let my Dad pull the quills out with a pliers. He cried a lot, but let him do it. Poor dog just lay with his mouth in a bowl of ice water all afternoon. I’m sorry to hear poor Helgi did it again !

    • dan.carol says:

      Wow, what a sweet dog, Renee. It’s a certain kind of dog that lets you pull his quills. We were able to pull them from our first dog, a German Shepherd/ Husky, but we raised him as a pup and had built up years of trust. Helgi is pretty private about his pain, and so when he gives up his warning signals, we back off. He’s all better now. We nursed him through his painful mouth days by feeding him ground beef. We told him it was ground porcupine. (-;

  2. Sherri says:

    Holy schmoly! You guys have great patience and fortitude! This is the point where my Dad would have taken out the gun and said “Thanks for years of entertainment, but you’re costing me too much money!” But I’m sure he would’ve been able to whip out some sort of recipe for porcupine stew…
    At any rate, hope that is the last you see of Ol’ Quilly! And I am currently assessing how much money I would pay to see you brandishing a stick and screaming your fool head off in the wee hours of the morning! :)
    I’m thinking, quite a bit…

    • dan.carol says:

      You are very funny, Sheri Kay! And Dan certainly did consider finding a way end the fella’s life, but Rae and Sawyer would never stand for such a thing. There was already enough hollerin’ going on . . .

  3. gw says:

    Reminds me of similar times. First time my dog Mike got quilled this was a new experience for me and him. After wrestling with him to try to extract the quills I finally realized my old pliers were not closing tightly and thus I was getting nowhere. With some vise grips I was successful and Mike enjoyed a nice bowl of ice cream. The second time Mike really got nailed so I decided a trip to the vet was necessary. Low income at the time so a nice vet in the area agreed to just sedate him for me in my truck and then I was able to extract the quills. A few I actually had to pull forward through the roof of his mouth. Hated pulling those quills backward and feeling that barb rip through his nose.

    • dan.carol says:

      We had to do a similar thing with Helgi. It’s a strange experience, having your pet conked out and pulling quills from their mouth, isn’t it? I felt like I was rummaging around in the mouth of a lion. I hope Mike is okay now.

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