Thursday, November 15, 2007

If your Dog gets Hit by a porcupine tail

If your dog gets hit by a porcupine. I was rereading an article I wrote called "Our 500 year American Gun Culture" and decided to write this piece. I have had two experiences like this. one with a friends dog and one with my own. It is usually a medium to large dog that doesn't know what a porcupine is and walks up and bites it. However, if people aren't around the likelihood is that the the dog will die or in other cases go blind and then die.

The problem is that the porcupine barbs are designed to push in ever deeper so when the dog fights to get rid of them the usual result is that the barbs are shoved up into the dogs brain and the dog dies.

If you are rich enough you could just take the dog to a vet and have him remove the quills after tranquilizing the dog. However, when both these incidents occurred there just wasn't money to do that.

So in the first incident I was visiting some forest acreage belonging to a friend of mine in the 1970's when my friends female black Labrador dog started yelping and screaming. We came running and found her in a terrible state. Never having seen this before I was horrified. My friend was upset but knew what to do. He said, "Fred. Go get some rope off my truck. We have to hog tie her. I'll try to calm her down. Also, I've got a pair of pliers in my tool box. Get those too." I was sort of freaked out not really knowing what to think at that point but still helping my friend in this crisis. I was a little worried that his dog would injure one of us because she had about 30 to 50 quills in her nose and inside her mouth. One quill was dangerously near one of her eyes.

So, when I returned he said, "I'll hogtie her legs so she can't run. She's a good dog so I think she'll let us do this. (If you have a really macho dog you might have to sedate him or her somehow or you will get hurt by the confused and injured dog).

So after he hogtied the animal he said, "Fred, you've got to hold her head to the ground on this towel so she can't bite us out of reflex. So I did as I was recommended. I watched him pull the quills out of her mouth one by one. Each time he pulled one she screamed in pain. However, we both knew if someone didn't do this the dog would die. To keep her from jamming the quills up into her brain I finally had to put a 2 inch stick across the back of her mouth so she wouldn't accidentally kill herself by shoving a quill into her brain by closing her mouth. Since the quills are designed to go in deeper and not be pulled out there was some blood as we ripped each quill out. Also, one must be pretty strong as it may take at least a 50 to 100 pound pull and grip to pull each quill out. If one is lodged in a bone this may increase to 200 to 250 pound pull to get it out.

Finally, we counted about 50 quills we had pulled out. There were couple that had broken off under the skin that we hoped wouldn't kill the dog but they weren't headed for the brain and likely wouldn't be fatal.

We gave the dog a pan of water to recover from the shock and extreme pain she had had to endure. The dog lived at least another 7 or 8 years after this incident so it all went fairly well.

Also, if you take you pet to the vet expect to pay at least $1000 to have this done and possibly more if an anesthetic is used. These fees would pertain more to California and the pet culture here.

So when my own dog had exactly the same experience on some acreage I owned then in Mt. Shasta I was prepared and had my wife and children then help me save the dogs life by hogtying her with rope and removing the quills with pliers.

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