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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Neville's turn with an Adirondack porcupine
Sunday, May 19 2024

location: 940 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

It was a beautiful sunny day, meaning we could finally put some real miles back into out Chevy Bolt and perhaps spend some time down at the lake.
This morning before we played Spelling Bee, I made and ate a bagel that was so messy and gross that I actually contemplated throwing the last third of it away, something I almost never do. The main problem with it was soy-curls-with-vegan-mayo I put in it as a layer. It contained way too much mayo, which ran out of it as a disgusting white discharge. But then I drank coffee and played Spelling Bee, and we eventually got to Queen Bee.
Later Gretchen did the rest of her gardening and I implemented some changes to the local remote that I was hinting at in yesterday's entry.

Eventually Gretchen set off with both of the dogs to go read a book on the dock. I went down a little while later carrying a big strong imperial IPA to drink while I paddled a kayak. Before I set off, Gretchen said something about wondering if maybe Charlotte had a little hound dog in her, since she came from the South and sometimes howls when she gets excited. I said that if she was a hound, maybe she was a porcupine hound, given how good she is at finding that specific kind of creature. I had a sense that Gretchen was getting a little tired of how much I'd been mentioning porcupines sinc last week, and sure enough she replied by saying it was nice that I'd been talking about porcupines a little less lately.
In the kayak, I basically did the same loop I often do, out into the outflow bay and back, though this time I also had my camera. Gretchen saw me taking telephoto pictures of her from out in the water and expressed annoyance that I was likely to put them on the internet, especially since she was working under the assumption that she had her privacy. So I agreed not to post any photos without her permission. At this point, both dogs were still hanging out with Gretchen on the dock, but after I came back a sat in the other zero gravity chair on the dock to appreciate the scenery, they started snuffling off into the woods. Gretchen said she'd seen Throckmorton the Loon swimming surprisingly close to the dock ten or twenty minutes before I got there, but I couldn't see him anywhere.

At that point I decided to walk back to the cabin. But then I heard Charlotte barking off to the southwest, probably from the vicinity of the backwards-facing cliffs along our boundary with Shane's parcel near where she'd been lightly quilled by a porcupine last weekend. Naturally, it seemed prudent to go there and try to keep the dogs from tangling with a porcupine if that was what Charlotte had found, assuming I could get there in time. As I thought, Charlotte was near the backwards-facing cliffs, at the bottom of the weird diagonal canyon that forms the most interesting landform along our boundary with Shane's parcel. As I drew closer, I could also hear Neville barking, so that wasn't good. When I came into sight of both of them, I was on the high ground just northeast of them and they were facing my direction, looking at something in a void in the rock beneath me. I saw Neville lunge into the rock several times and then grab some smallish creature. It looked like it might be a small woodchuck. He proceeded to shake it like he does when trying to kill a woodchuck, and often that's all it takes. For a moment I was relieved that it was a woodchuck and I froze. But then I saw the quills. This was not a small woodchuck, it was probably an immature porcupine. And the quills were to small to stop Neville. The poor creature let out a squeal and then he release it. I saw as it lay dying that its skin was torn. And Neville's face was full of hundreds of little quills. There were so many around his lips that they seemed to fully occupy the area. Only then did he seem to become aware that he had a problem. By this point, Charlotte had vanished. (I would later note that she hadn't received a single quill, suggesting that she's one of the few dogs capable of learning to avoid porcupines.) Not knowing what else to do, I immediately began removing Neville's quills with my bare hands, especially from around his eyes, shoulders, paws, and other places far from his mouth, as the important thing for now was just to make it so he could walk. As I worked, I managed to accidentally jab one of the quills into one of my fingers and marveled at how far my skin stretched as I pulled it out. Eventually I carried Neville away from the dead porcupine so he wouldn't somehow get more quills from it. I then left him briefly and ran down to within earshot of Gretchen, who was still reading her book on the dock, and shouted that Neville had been "severely quilled by a porcupine." She immediately started heading back to the cabin, and Neville (who was now covered in mud, apparently thinking that would help with the quills) was following me in that direction as well. When Gretchen got a chance to see Neville, she was astounded by how many quills his face now contained.
Back at the cabin, we made a perfunctory job of cleaning it up and packing up the food we needed to take back to Hurley. Gretchen was on her phone researching what emergency vet options were available (rememember, this was a Sunday afternoon). It turned out that the nearest vet that was open was in Latham, NY, which is suburb on the north fringe of Albany. As we drove there, Neville lay in the backseat, seemingly resigned to his new level of discomfort. Charlotte was doing a good job of giving him all the room he needed.
Fortuitously, there was a charging spot supplying free level-II electricity for electric cars right in front of Upstate Veterinary Specialties (and our car hadn't really yet had a chance to charge up enough to comfortably return to Hurley via Albany). The staff at the front desk said that Neville would be their fourth patient today needing to have porcupine quills removed, and they gave an estimate of six hours for when they could see him. Six fucking hours! Why hadn't they said that when Gretchen talked to them on the phone? They also said that, given the number of quills in his body, it would take approximately two hours to remove them all and that this would cost between $800 and $1000. There was also some kooky stuff about how the quills sticking out of his face are also dangerous and that any not removed would get infected (I know from experience that neither of those two things are true). Given the six hour wait, Gretchen quickly decided it would be best for us to just drive back to Kingston and have his quills dealt with at the emergency vet we usually go to for such weekend vet emergencies. So soon we were back on the highway, now heading south. Gretchen canceled our original plans for this evening, which were to eat dinner with Lynne and Greg at the Garden Café in Woodstock.
When we got to the our familiar emergency vet near the railroad tracks on the way to Home Depot (Animal Emergency Clinic of The Hudson Valley), there were four or five staffers standing around with nothing to do. There was no queue of other suffering animals that needed to be processed, so Neville was immediately whisked in for an examination and then taken in for quill removal. Unlike the vets in Latham, these vets scoffed at the notion that Neville had been severely quilled. They'd all seen worse. We were told that it would only take about an hour to have his quills removed, and we could go home and wait for them to finish.
Exactly an hour later, someone from the Kingston emergency vet called to say that Neville's work was done, and, best of all, the price was $710. I think the last time we had a dog get quills removed, the price had been $600, but that was years ago, back before all the recent inflation (which has affected veterinary services particularly), and it was for many fewer quills.
Beause I also wanted to get a few plumbing supplies (related to sealing things like leaking ass-blasters) and liquor for the laboratory, I agreed to drive out to the emergency vet to retrieve Neville. And, since Neville wasn't going (because he wasn't around), I couldn't convince Charlotte to come with me, even after telling her I'd be getting Neville. When I got to the vet, Neville was just being walked, and when he finally came out, he was looking charming as ever. But the moment I got him into the passenger seat of the Bolt, he started whimpering, and he kept doing it for the whole time we were out. Sometimes that whimpering indicates various flavors of FOMO, but it was soon clear that in this case it was because of the pain of having all those nasty quills yanked out. Each is like a little saw blade with their backwards-facing barbs, and pulling out hundreds of them leaves the tissue traumatized. I went to Home Depot, bought some plumbers' putty, joint compound, and an assortment of o-rings. Then I went to Miron's Liquor, but it was closed. Could it be that in New York liquor stores are closed on Sunday? And if this is the case, how could I just be learning this now? I've been living in this state for nearly 22 years! But then when I drove to JK's in Uptown, I found they were closed too. (No, they don't have to be closed, but some of them seem to close at 5:00pm on Sundays.) So I ended up buying a sixpack of an imperial hazy IPA at Stewart's so I'd have something to drink tonight (in addition to what liquor I could scrounge from the highly-depleted living room liquor cabinet).
Back at the house, Neville continued whimpering almost constantly. The only way to get him to stop was to lie close to him and stroke him constantly on his head and shoulders. I gave him a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, but it didn't help much. Incidentally, I'd learned that the "xanax" I'd thought I'd given to Charlotte before pulling out her porcupine quills last weekend was actually one of Gretchen's estrogen supplements (which she has taken since her hysterectomy to prevent the onset of menopause).


Neville and Charlotte on the dock before the porcupine incident. Click to enlarge.


View from the dock. Click to enlarge.


Neville soon after being quilled. You can see his misery. Click to enlarge.


Neville when he briefly wore a cone of shame at the emergency vet in Latham. He'd grown accustomed to the discomfort by then. Click to enlarge.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:
http://asecular.com/blog.php?240519

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