This was a great weekend. Arnie and I ran the Pipeline Trail in Mill Creek yesterday morning and spent the afternoon with Robin and Bill at a fun, techy crag in American Fork. Today Arnie and I ran in Park City - Spiro to Mid-Mountain - then met Emma and Floyd (her Border Collie) in East Canyon for a hike. Such a wonderful weekend...except for this:
Poor Arnie met a porcupine. My brave (oblivious) puppy handled it so well; he barely broke his stride - it's almost like he didn't even notice - until I saw him and said "OH MY GOD, ARNIE!" Then he clued in that something was amiss. (Another reason why I should never parent a baby human.)
I pulled one or two quills out on the trail, but because I know so little about porcupines and how their quills work (are they poisonous? What if I break one off too close to pull out? Are there really barbs on the ends?) I decided to wait until I'd spoken to a vet.
20 minutes later we were back in the truck and within cell range. I kept an eye on Arnie as we drove; I didn't want him to rub at the quills with his paws, pushing them in deeper. He didn't. Again, he didn't really seem to notice that anything had happened to him. He just stood at the window that looks into the cab, sniffing at the air and wagging his tail. Same as always.
At home, as I was looking up quill-removal tips in the Interwebs and talking to emergency vets, Arnie got sadder and sadder. He couldn't figure out how to drink with his quilly mouth, he couldn't eat the Rimadel I tried to give him. He kept dozing off, but as his big furry head dipped down, he bumped the quills and jolted awake. It was heartbreaking - his pathetic expression compounded by the strings of drool developing from his jowels.
I found out that we could take him to the vet, or we could pull the quills out ourselves. Brad, who fancies himself a master of the veterinary arts, elected home-removal. I pulled 6 out before he got home (he was climbing in the desert this weekend), and now Brad's removing the rest with needlenose pliers (it seems cruel, but it's what three vets and four websites recommend). Because I can't stand the thought - or sight - of Arnie in pain, each time I pulled a quill out, I had to hug him for at least ten minutes. The time-consumption of my process was killing Brad. He took over and subsequently banished me from the room where he's now working, because I kept yelling at him to slow down, to give Arnie a few minutes to rest and feel loved in between pulls (what am I, a vet?).
Arnie is all better now, if a bit tender around the snoot and a little mopey. He fosters no resentment towards us, though, for inflicting great pain, and to the Arnie-neophyte he'd just seem sleepy.
I wonder if he learned his lesson today. If he'll remember this sad, painful day the next time he considers trying to make friends with a porcupine. Brad doubts it, but I'm not so sure.