Suddenly, my nose smelled them – the sweet smell of quail. I
suppose as I tell this story, you are wondering exactly what quail smell
like from a dog’s point of view. Well, I can tell you, they smell like no
other smell – sort of a cross between chicken nuggets and fries.
I came up to where the covey (group) of quail were hidden. They
were deep in the tall grass. This is where our hunting school training
really comes in. I didn’t want those quail to fly away so I stopped and
pointed where the birds were. I kept my body still with my tail stiff.
You might ask why we do that? The answer is simple. Since people don’t
go to hunting school—they can’t find the birds unless we show them
where they are. I have often wondered why people don’t go to hunting
school. Some of them are not very good at bringing the birds down.
Today was no exception. The people came up and the quail flushed.
They shot at the flying quail and missed, just as we heard a loud shrill,
barking sound RUFF, RUFF, RUUUUF! That yelping and screeching could
only come from one dog – RUSH. I looked around but didn’t see him.
Our hunter blew a whistle twice which meant for Rush to come back.
Still no Rush.
My suspicion was Rush had disobeyed me by going toward the
river. I became worried so I started barking and running straight to the
bluff above the river bottom.
I was the first to reach the bluff, so I started climbing. I followed
the strange muffled sound, a cross between a GRRRRR and a RUFFFFFFF.
I couldn’t believe my eyes upon reaching the top. There was Rush, but he
had a mouth full of porcupine quills—hardened hair like sharp needles.
Porcupines have quills all over their body. That protects them from dogs
like Rush. I studied that in Nature class in hunting school.
The porcupine sat and stared at Rush with a big smile on his face.
Rush looked pitiful with quills in his mouth, head, and over his body. He
couldn’t even bark properly with those quills sticking out of his mouth.
“Are you his friend?” The porcupine asked me while bending over
and licking his belly. The belly of a porcupine does not have quills.
“I’m his pa, and I’m not happy with him. He was suppose to be
hunting quail with me. Instead, he wandered away to have an adventure.
Now, I find him with quills in his mouth. Dear me, our hunter is not
going to be happy. Not at all. This day was supposed to end as a
perfect day with lots of quail—not like this!” I answered in an upset
“I’m not happy either! Your pup has taken hundreds of MY quills in
his mouth. I need those quills. I don’t want to wait for the new ones to
grow out. Whoever heard of a porcupine without his quills! Just how do
you plan to get them back for me, Mr. Hunting Dog?”
Glancing at both Rush and the porcupine, I replied, “Our hunter
will take them out at the trailer. Exactly what happened? By the way, my
name is Doc and his is Rush.”
“I am Pete. Well, I was minding my own business having my
afternoon snack of bark and twigs. Suddenly, I heard your young pup try
to sneak up on me. He actually POINTED me, exactly like your breed
does when they find quail. Do I look like a quail? I think not! Anyway, I
was so startled that I dropped my bark and twigs. Your young pup
proceeded to grab me by the tail with his mouth. Well then, we all know
what happened next. He got a mouth full of quills and I have a bare spot
on my tail! Your pup was so stubborn, he tried it again and got more
quills. He doesn’t seem to be very bright.” With that lengthy explanation
completed, Pete sighed and started licking the bare spot on his tail.
By the time we got back to the trailer, the news was all over the
woods. Pete told the birds. The birds told the rabbits. The rabbits told
the deer . . . well, you get the picture.
Patch and Zeke were huddled together by the cottonwood trees
when we appeared. They had hunted earlier in the day. Patch, Rush’s
sister, starting howling. She thought Rush looked pretty funny with his
mouth wide open and full of quills.
Zeke simply glared at me. He barked, “well, Doc, I told you so.
You spoil the pups and see what happens. They don’t pay any attention
to what you tell them to do! I’ve worked so hard today and I’m hungry. It
will be hours before we get home and have chow!”
I was irritated with my brother and I was definitely tired after all my
running in the field. “Zeke, what work did you do? You always pace
yourself by walking with our hunter. Then you snatch the birds from the
rest of us so it looks like you retrieved them - while all the time, we are
the ones that are doing the work!” Zeke knew I was right.
We all watched while the people pulled each quill from Rush’s
mouth with needle-nosed pliers. It took two long hours to get all the
quills from Rush’s mouth and body. Patch, always the inquisitive dog,
told me later that she counted the quills. Rush had around 100 quills in
his mouth and over 50 on the rest of his body.
We then loaded up for the long trip back to THE LAZY DOG
HACIENDA. As we pulled out of the field, I saw Pete and his porcupine
friends gathering up the quills. I figured it would take Pete and his
friends a long time to get those quills back in Pete.