Buster got the blues. And it’s all because he tried to mess with a porcupine (Hystrix indica). This was when I was at Flowerbook doing my routine morning ‘round’ with the pooches. Fortunately for him, although it didn’t seem like it at the time, Rocky was tethered for being a delinquent and so missed getting spiked like Buzzy and Sal did.

We were approaching the last bit of the walk and I was absorbed in trying to count how many Scimitar Babblers (Pomatorhinus melanurus) were in the flock that were chirruping in the scrub at the edge of the property. Sally dashed off through the bush to the small piece of abandoned land next door, followed closely by Buster and then I heard the unmistakable sound of the chase through the bush. I figured it must have been the usual mongoose (Herpestes sp.) or civet cat (Viverricula sp.) that the dogs love to hassle whenever they sus one out, until I heard a distinctly painful yelp and then lots more scrabbling around. Getting a bit worried about the possibilities that they may have run into a boar and were getting into something more than they could handle, I rushed to as close as I could get to them, yelling for them to “come”. The next thing I knew was a crashing through the scrub and a blur of motion through the tall illuk grass, with Sally in pursuit. I couldn’t see the creature that Sally was chasing and asked Selvam, who was doing his morning chores in the vicinity, what it was. Selvam, who is clueless about creatures of the wild replied that it was a mongoose, and when I rather doubtfully asked what colour it was, he said it was black and white and had kuru (quills)! Having had previous experiences with dogs’ encounters with porcupines, I got a bit worried, and then I saw Buzzy limping back homeward, so hurried to find out how extensive the damage was.

Bleeding profusely from his shoulder where a quill had penetrated about an inch, he had a quill sticking out a fraction of an inch from his eye and another two sticking out of his chest, Buzzy was looking in rather sad shape, not knowing what really hit him. I got the quills out and bathed the wounds with warm water and then washed them out as well as I could with spirits. A rather large swelling was visible on the shoulder, but the bleeding stopped with the pressure I applied, so it didn’t look too, too serious.

In the meantime Sally returned from the chase with a quill sticking out of her snout – again just missing her eye, and two more in her chest. The one that missed the eye had penetrated quite deep and I had trouble getting it out. Sal had, in her attempts to paw the quill out, partially broken it – which is why I had a problem extracting it, although I didn’t know it at the time. Fortunately, I turned it around, which would have got the jagged edges together, and then I managed to get it out. There was hardly any bleeding, which surprised me, and Sal was soon back to ‘normal’.

Buzzy however, was feeling very sorry for himself, obviously in pain and not interested in any of much. He was very quiet for most of the day, limping a bit when he walked around, so I gave him a pain-killer. Later in the evening, however, during the usual game of cricket with the kids next door, he seemed more of himself – disturbing the game as he usually does by getting the kids to throw stones for him to fetch.

He was quite himself the next morning as I packed up for the trip back to the city, joining the other dogs to look a bit down in the dumps as they saw the bags coming out. Hopefully it will be a lesson learned and neither Buzzy nor Sal will attempt to mess with a porci ever again.