Monday night the dogs and I went out after dark to close up the chickens.  As we were coming back to the house, they shot off for the front field in such a way that I knew a critter was involved.  Barking ensued, and it sounded like the dogs were on one side of the fence and the critter was on the other.  The barking wasn’t frantic or anything so I walked up the hill to see what was going on.  When I got close I could see the dark shape of a critter running towards me.  “Leave it, leave it, leave it!” I told the dogs, backing up.  Sadie rushed forward and that’s when we had a problem.

Sadie ran for the house and was pawing at her face frantically.  I realized then it was a porcupine.  Ironically, just that afternoon I had heard someone talking about his dog getting whacked by a porcupine and mentally sighed in relief that my dogs had learned that lesson.  I got to Sadie and saw she had bit the porcupine.  I honestly believe she was trying to protect me from it as it ran towards me because until that point she had just been barking.

Biting a porcupine means that she had quills in the roof of her mouth, her tongue, her lips.  She was panicking and for just a bit, so did I.  The other times porcupines were involved, only muzzles had quills and it took two of us to pull them out.  I didn’t think I could handle this by myself.  I picked her up (she weighs 70 lbs) and carried her into the kitchen, where there is good lighting and open space.   She would lie still for a bit, panting, then panic again when she would try to close her mouth and the quills would poke in further.  I got her to lie still while I got the phone and called the vet’s office.  A message was left for the on-call doctor.  While we waited for the doctor to call, I pulled myself together and pulled out a couple quills.  She let me.  I pulled out the longest of the quills, which I could tell were what panicked her.  Once those quills were out, the panic stopped because she could close her mouth into a pant.  Our vet called and told me I could pull the quills or else he could meet me at the clinic, though if that happened she would have to be sedated.  Since she was already letting me pull quills without fighting, I chose to do it myself.  That’s when I knew just how much this dog loves and trusts me.  It took a little while (there were a lot of quills) but we were finally done and she gave me a big doggie grin and kisses.

Sadie’s paws after.  The blood is mostly from her muzzle, when she was pawing it so frantically.

Yesterday we went to the vet so he could check her.   I had removed all the quills.  He checked up her nose, which I hadn’t thought to do, but Sadie’s body language told me we were done the night before.  We got her some prophylactic antibiotics because a mouthful of porcupine can be nasty.  She has to be the easiest dog in the world to give pills to.  I loosely wrap a liver treat around even a big capsule and she’ll take the whole thing.  She watches me do it.  Phoebe can not be tricked with food wrappings.   Even if I wrap a tiny pill securely, out of her line of sight, she will nibble the pill out and ptoo, it goes to the floor.