Of Dogs and Porcupines and the New West

David Zincavage’s tazi Uhlan (see below) and his basset got into a porcupine a couple of days ago in Pennsylvania, and the usual mayhem followed.

I never had a porcupine hassle here but had some pretty bad incidents in
Massachusetts and Maine in the old days; never lost a dog but I won’t
forget the trauma.

It put me in mind of an incident here in the early eighties, soon after Betsy Huntington and I arrived.

One of the first people we met here (at the Post Office) was the legendary (and actually rather sweet) ranch heiress Wilma Huggett. She was a large mannish woman with a near- brush cut who looked like a combination of WH Auden, Slim Pickens, and Calamity Jane, smoked Camels without ceasing, and had taken up (and put down) any number of New Age pursuits like intermittent vegetarianism, reflexology, and Chinese medicine in her old age, all combiined with old fashioned rancher mythology and a belief in her own original conspiracy theories  (Szechuan restaurans were a “Red Chinese” plot to steal her and her mother’s land; the Dia Foundation Lightning Field art installation in Catron County was a landing field for Polish UFO’s…)

So one day she comes in cursing our lovely vet (for thirty plus years now) Terri Gonzalez for “putting damn chemicals” in her dogs (three usually noisy blue anklebiters, now snoozing in the bed of her pickup).

Bets calmed her down and bummed a Camel and after a shot of Black Jack Wilma told us what had happened. She had been on a Vegan kick and tried to hold her cowdogs to it (she saw no contradiction in keeping cows of course). So the dogs had jumped a porky, I think to EAT, and gotten severely quilled. At the time we had a Venezuelan Chinese acupuncturist, Simon Wong, who was pretty good even though he spoke no English– not a problem here especially 30 years ago; ranch Anglos like my friend  Sissy Gianera Pound Olney, younger than I am, spoke Spanish first, never mind semi- fossilized 60- somethings like Wilma. She asked him to anesthetize the heelers so she could take out the quills. I  believe he attempted it, but the dogs rebelled, and he told her he had no proper dog charts. So, over to Terri who anesthetized them with CHEMICALS and extracted the quills, leaving Wilma cursing everything but especially, quote, “that damn Chinaman.” (Wilma was odd but also like Jeff Cooper could have perished in the Cretaceous Extinction Event…)

Anesthetize them, mind you, with NEEDLES.

When she left we both fell into an uncharacteristic fit of hysteria– Bets was nearly falling down. “I feel so for the poor dogs. It’s not really funny but– first she feeds them vegetarian lasagna. Then they get stuck. Then she drags them to that hapless Chinese doctor. What did he think? And what must they have thought when “that damn Chinaman” came at them with NEEDLES?”

3 thoughts on “Of Dogs and Porcupines and the New West”

  1. Gawd, one thing great about the South(in the U. S. of A.) for dog-people–NO PORCUPINES! They are certainly very interesting, neato critters, but I cringe every time I even hear about these incidents. I've had a coupla SKUNK incidents with my dogs over the years(the one with my first wolf hybrid was quite interesting, actually), but I'll take skunks over porkies ANYDAY! Especially since I have zero sense-of-smell, the skunk incidents only bother everybody else, not me!……And yeah, how crazy is trying to aenethisize something with needles after a porcupine incident! Would this be considered "hair-of-the-dog" kinda treatment?(ahem!) About like shooting someone with a dart gun to knock them out to treat a gunshot wound……L.B.

  2. Having removed quills from my son's 3 heeler's with just a stick crossways between the back of their jaws on two different occasions I can attest to their unfriendly temperament while removing quills.

    When this task is all over one of them invariably licks the same hand in appreciation that minutes earlier the dog would have chewed to kingdom come if it had a chance.


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