It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. ~Mark Twain
As I was writing about Love of Animals, Even Fictitious Pets, I realized I never addressed the incidence with Scooby and the porcupine. Usually I have Kyle on Wednesdays, but he was on vacation with my sister, for 'Aunt Nikki and Kyle's Week of Fun' during the second week of July. Being at a loss for my little man, I went for a run with my friend Holsters in the evening. Afterwards, I made my way to my parents house to see how the old folks were doing. Since I was already sweaty and warmed up, I thought I'd treat the dogs to a hike in the middle of the week. We did our usual route of three miles, however by the time we were heading back nightfall was upon us, not that it bothered me. As kids, we used to run through these woods at night without flashlights, chasing each other and plotting strategies of attack at Halloween. My only concern was twisting an ankle, on the over abundance of loose rocks covering the trail. No problem, I took my time and really paid attention to my steps, while the dogs continued to run around. They were having a blast!
As we were within the last half a mile from the house, Scooby who was a good fifty feet ahead of me yelped in a painful cry. What the heck? I saw him pretty clearly and he kept pawing at his face. At that moment, I thought that knucklehead found a nest of bees! He likes to snap at bees, don't ask me why! O great, I thought here I am allergic to bees and it's dark and I'm in the woods. How am I going to make my way around them? I actually contemplated turning around and hiking back where I came from, another two miles to the main road and have mom pick me up. Then, as I approached the area where Scooby was pawing at his face and shaking it violently, I had another thought. For some reason I was convinced it was a snake! I have no idea where that came from, but I thought a copper head bit Scooby in the jaw, since I saw some white around his mouth. Common sense told me that it couldn't have been a rattle snake because I didn't hear the warning noise from its tail. At that moment, my mind was racing, thinking that if it was a snake, I really would never be able to see it in the dark. Yikes! Run!
As I scooted the dogs down the trail, I noticed Seven kept staring over the hill and was ready to take off for whatever started this situation. He listened to me, thank goodness, when I called him to join us, but he was still on alert. As I approached the opening of the woods and my feet hit the pavement, I looked down at Scooby who kept shaking his head, It was at that moment I noticed he had porcupine quills in his face! What? I didn't even know we had porcupines in the area! My only thought was, 'Well I guess I have to get them out'. While we made our way down through the yard, Scooby took that as an opportunity to roll around in the orchard. Then I heard a really loud yelp. He must have rolled onto his face and hit the quills. For some reason, Scooby didn't want to go in the house, he wanted to stay in the yard. That is until I really yell at him.
All three of us stormed through the front door into the kitchen, and I yelled for mom to get tweezers. She jumped up off the couch, apparently reading the sense of urgency in my voice. She came around the corner and wanted to know what the heck was going on? I told her that Scooby had an encounter with a porcupine. Then she saw the quills stuck in his face. Mom looked at me and said, "We have porcupines?" I said, "I guess so." Mom was still really confused and said, "Heather I have never seen a porcupine around here, ever! I've never even heard of a neighbor's dog coming across one! Ever!" So in the sixty plus years mom has lived in the house, she never encountered a porcupine. Then I was thinking, am I really looking at porcupine quills? Neither one of us were experts in porcupines, but we both agreed, that's what Scooby ran into, literally. It looked like Scooby stuck his face directly into the rear end of the spiky critter.
As we brought Scooby into the living-room so mom could sit there and hold him while I plucked the quills out, I saw Seven. He had a few in his face too! What the heck? I took care of Seven first, since there were only a few quills and he just wanted to jump around. Then, I locked him in his cage, to keep him from getting in my way while I evaluated the situation with Scooby.
Just as I got a really good look I was mortified! His entire bottom lip was COVERED in quills to the point it actually looked like a beard! I needed to get these things out and fast. Well, my inexperience with porcupines was showing when I tried to use the tweezers. They didn't work at all! Next I tried using my fingers, and I did manage to get a few out, but they were so smooth it made it difficult to get a grip. Then, I grabbed a paper towel, which assisted me with extracting a few more quills but didn't allow for a really good grip on the others. Once the upper lip was clear and I felt like I was getting somewhere, I moved to the polluted lower lip. The paper towel method work for a few, but even that wasn't cutting it anymore. I was at loss, I didn't know what to do?
Think! Yes, pliers! I went in the garage and pulled out a set of my dad's pliers, allowing me to evacuate a few more. As I continued, Scooby yelped. Instantly, I stopped to take a serious look at his mouth. With a double take, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, I saw the real damage on his face. The quills went the entire way through his lower lip! O my poor, poor Scooby! What to do? Knowing the vet retired for the day, mom called to see if there might be an emergency number to reach someone. It was a number to a pet hospital in Monroeville. Monroeville? That would take us at least an hour to get down there. I wasn't going to have Scooby wait in the car for over an hour with these things puncturing his face, and then, who knows how long it would take them to alleviate his discomfort. No way!
Back to the drawing board. Let me tell you, approaching a dog in pain with a pair of pliers is a little surreal. Mom tried to hold him, while I moved in on Scooby's face with the clamps of pain. He caught on to me and kept turning his head every time I came near. He would look at me and give me the sense that I had his permission to yank those darn things out, but then at the last second, he would turn his head away. Come on! I get it he was scared and in pain. I felt like I had no choice but to be a little more aggressive with the embedded quills.
Scooby was a trooper! As the process of yanking the foreign objects out, blood began just dripping from Scooby's chin. It was sprayed across my white T-shirt, my arms, on mom and all over the hardwood floor. At one point mom stopped me and said, "What what if he bites you?" Remaining focused on my mission, I said, "Well, I'll deal with it if he does." Only twice did Scooby growl at me and snap at the pliers. He didn't snap at me, he directed his pain and fear towards the pliers! What a good dog! Every now and then, mom would interject, "He doesn't mean to growl. He's just scared and it hurts him." I certainly was not holding Scooby's hostility to heart and I didn't want those things to stay in his skin any longer.
While all this was going on, Seven was in his cage, crying and wanting out. No doubt, he thought he was missing out on something, all while Storm hid under the recliner and was trying to play with Scooby's feet. She apparently didn't realize the tense look in the dog's eyes. I had to try and keep her away from him, to give Scooby a break. I'm sure playing with Storm was the last thing on his mind. Not to mention I didn't want this upset lab striking out at the kitten. Yikes, too much to think of at once!
After over an hour of literally blood, sweat and tears, Scooby was done. He looked happy and like himself again. The bloody chin seemed to heal up instantly and stopped bleeding. Using a flashlight to inspect the area, I noticed he had a few quills in his leg. Those were a breeze to pull out after the ordeal we just went through. Scooby was sore, but hopefully on the road to recovery. He didn't seem to hold a grudge against me either, wagging his tail and wanting attention.
After I left the injured to rest, I had to stop and fuel up the car. I didn't even realize the streaks and spattered blood on my T-shirt, arms, legs and hands until I got out. I looked like I just fed someone to the pigs! Either that or I worked in a butcher shop. What was really amusing, was when I went to take a shower and saw I wiped my forehead and face with a bloody hand. Can you image what a bystander thought as they saw me pumping gas? I had blood spatter across my chest, and streaks of it on the rest of me including my face!
The next day mom took Scooby to the vet's just to make sure I handle the situation correctly and to ensure he was healing properly. The vet was impressed, how I managed to get the quills out, all without Scooby taking a chunk of my arm or seriously hurting the dog. I can't take all the credit, Scooby was the brave soul. Of course, he was also the knucklehead who stuck his face in direct line of fire of a porcupine. But that's another topic.
Well, clean bill of heath, or so we thought. After some time passed Scooby started to develop a lump under his chin. Mom hauled him back to the dreaded vet, which the dog absolutely despises. Scooby growls at him every time and won't let the vet come too close, let alone touch him. The outcome? Scooby was to take some medicine to hopefully dissolve this trapped piece of quill. Initially, the vet had Scooby on an antibiotic to ensure the wounds wouldn't get infected. Now he was back to more medications.
Well, after medications were consumed the lump still remained. Let's discussing giving this dog his pills. Scooby isn't the easiest patient. Mom had to roll up his pills in lunch meat and bread to get his drugs into him. However, mom said that shortly after she started this daily routine, Scooby caught on to the extra love. He seemed to develop a talent for eating the food and spitting out the pills onto the floor. What a stinker! Then mom would have to go through the process again until he consumed the medications. The dog is too smart to take his pills, but not smart enough to stay away from animals with built in weapons.
This past weekend we took Scooby back to the vet's to have the lump inspected. The vet said that he thinks it's actually scare tissue. He measured the two centimeter bump and told us to watch it, making sure it doesn't grow. The vet looked Scooby over and you know what? He wasn't in pain, at all. If that was an abscess, Scooby wouldn't be able to eat, and certainly not play tug of war with Seven, which he does occasionally. Can you believe all this from one innocent walk through the woods. I guess it could have been worse and I'm glad the our Labrador seems to be healthy and happy.
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