Friday, May 18, 2012

Jacob, the Serpent & the Dead Porcupine

I wrote about Jacob a while ago, and that story reminded me of a couple other adventures he participated in.

One day when we lived in Meadow Lakes Jacob and I went for a walk.  Towards the end of the walk, he seemed to be slowing down and just trudging along.  This was a bit unusual, even though he wandered all over as we walked through the fields and forests nearby, he usually seemed to be just as eager and excited at the end of a walk as at the start.

Shortly after we got back to the cabin dinner time rolled around.  I poured some food into his bowl and he got up from where he was laying in the living room.  He sniffed at the food, took a quick drink of water from his bowl and went back to lie down.

This was really odd.  Wondering what was wrong with him I took a close look at his face.  One of his upper lips was quite swollen.  Looking closer, I saw two little holes on the fleshy part of his lip. Wanting to see the inside of his lip, I touched it intending to pull it out so that I could see.  Jacob whined and I let go.  He was obviously very uncomfortable.

I turned on a couple more lights and got down very close to him.  What could have made these little holes, a thorn bush or barbed-wire fence?  Then I noticed there were actually four of these little marks, two sets, exactly the same distance from each other.

They were puncture wounds from a rattlesnake bite! Good old curious Jacob – one bite wasn’t enough for him.  He had to go back for seconds!

Fortunately for him, the snake bit the thin flap of his lip and passed clear through – most to the poison was injected in the space between the lip and gum.  I was sure that he wasn’t in any serious danger and a few days later he was back to normal.

Quite a few years later, when living in Truckee, I came home from work to find Jacob with a snoutful of porcupine quills.  I wasn’t terrible surprised, even though this happened during the day (porcupines are generally nocturnal).  This was the first time I’d seen Jacob tangle with a porcupine, but they were pretty common and lots of other dogs in the neighborhood had come home with quills.  He did not enjoy it when I got the pliers and pulled them out, but there were only about a half dozen and none were really stuck in deeply.

But the next day – same thing – Jacob had a good half dozen quills around his mouth.  Strange, that there’d been a porcupine around, during the day, again.  Well this repeated itself every day for quite a few more days – I’d come home to pull six to ten quills from his snout.  No one else in the neighborhood was having this problem, and no one had seen any porcupines for weeks.  The last time anyone had seen one it had been fatal for the porcupine – she killed it because it was chewing up the side of her house.

On the morning of my next day off, I took Jacob for a walk.  I let him lead thinking if I just followed him he might show me where he was finding this porcupine.  There was a creek about 20 or 30 yards from the house and he headed that way.  We walked along upstream for about a half-mile until we got to a point where a dirt road came near.  Jacob walked up to the road and started home.

Just as we got to the edge of the little group of houses where we lived he stopped and was sniffing near a bush.  I walked on past towards the cabin.  A few minutes later he followed and as he approached I saw that he had a couple more quills on his nose.  I walked back to the bush and there were the remains of a dead porcupine.

He had to sniff it every time he passed!

I got a snow shovel and tossed the carcass in the dumpster.  End of problem!

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