Saving Spikey

The crew and I backtrack from Crazy Jug Point and settle into a new camp.

Yes, this is what I like!

Sunlight on fluttering aspen leaves . . .

We’re among pines and aspen trees in the Kaibab National Forest. 

Our site is beside a lane that’s far enough off Forest Road 22 that we’re not visible to anyone driving by, and rarely does anyone drive by!

No people are near here and that suits me fine.  Although there’s no internet service, I consider this is a superb camp.

It’s dusk and the three of us are sitting outside the Best Little Trailer. 

The tall pines cast wide, dark shadows across the pine needle carpet, extending all the way to the grassy lawn next to our campsite.  I’m in my camp chair.  Bridget is sitting on a soft mat I’ve placed for her at my feet.  Spike is lying in a crouch, four paws flat on the ground, his nose twitching, ready for anything that might come along.

He springs to his feet and sprints across the pine needles.

A good hiding place for wildlife . . .

Apparently he sees something over by the big log and pile of dead limbs.  Probably a squirrel.  Spike is relying on his nose now, as the animal is out of sight.  He hones in on a large clump of evergreen bushes.  A strange clucking sound emanates from the bushes, into which Spike is poking his nose.

Uh oh.  Not good.  Whatever it is – a wild turkey? – it’s hiding in there. It might be protecting babies.  I’d better go get him.

 “Spike!  C’mon now.  Leave that alone.”  I pick him up and bring him back to the BLT.

The following morning . . .

I’m up at 5:45 eager for our first full day at our quiet camp.  The crew is still under covers.  I prepare a pot of coffee.  Then I crawl back into bed to snuggle their warm bodies until the aroma of perked coffee fills our little home.  The clicking of my spoon in the cup brings two sleepy faces out from under the quilt.  Boy, they slept like rocks last night.  Those long walks and a new camp must have worn them out.

The PTV sits in dappled light. The solar panel still sends enough energy to the batteries for our needs.

The crew follows me out to my camp chair.

We discover several varieties of evergreens.

While the first rays of sunshine appear between the pine tops across the lawn, I drink the coffee and feel the sun’s warmth against the chill of the morning.

“Well.  You two look awake now.  You want some breakfast?”  I get up and spread some kibble on the vinyl floor of our kitchen.  I pour myself some more coffee while they munch at my feet.

Soon I have the crew in their suits and the walking stick in my hand.

We go deep into the forest. 

“I get the message. This is YOUR lawn.”

I like to walk where the only footprints are from wildlife . . . and cows.

Hoof prints remind me of the herd of cattle, all young bulls, some merely calves, that plodded past our camp last night.  A big black one with a white face, the only one with horns, gave me the evil eye while his herd grazed on the grassy lawn.

On the way back to camp, Bridget ensures I get a good work-out.  She always picks up the pace when we’re homeward bound, and this morning it’s mostly uphill.

The last hundred feet or so, I let the crew race free back to our camp.

We all catch our breath over on the lawn.   I take some photos.

Bridget likes a camp where she can keep her paws clean.

Spike patrols our campsite . . .

Suddenly Spike’s legs stiffen, his nose points at the BLT, and his eyes become intense. Oh dear, something serious is about to happen.  The muscles in his haunches tense and a wide strip of fur on his back stands straight up. 

The incident transpires in only a few seconds.

Spike barks and begins to trot.  I follow his direction and see something moving a few feet from the BLT.  Spike is a good thirty feet ahead of me and it’s another fifty feet or so from Spike to this animal.  Spike breaks into a run.  I automatically run after him.  Oh, dear God!  It’s a porcupine!

Spike’s in rapid pursuit.

The porcupine is running away.  I’m surprised by the size of the thing and the speed at which it can move its cumbersome body on such short legs.  I yell frantically, “Spike, stop!  No!  Spike!” as I try to catch up with him.  He’s ignoring me and gaining on the moving quill-shooting machine, which is now only about six feet ahead of him.  I see the quills go up and anticipate Spike yelping with pain.  My yell turns to a scream that reverberates across the forest.  “SP-I-I-I-K-E!”

His intense, terrier focus breaks, and he hesitates.

That gives me just enough time to catch up and stomp my foot on his leash.  The porcupine, now only about six feet away, scrambles awkwardly away from us and up a pine tree.  I scoop Spike up in my arms and run back to BLT where Bridget awaits us.

I plop into my camp chair, Spike’s leash held tightly in hand.  “Gee, Spike, you almost got it.”  I’m stunned by the closeness of the call.  “Thank you, Jesus!”  The words come out like a curse, but I’m truly grateful my sweet boy doesn’t have a face full of quills.

A strange clucking sound comes from Porky’s pine tree.

Woodland color

I recognize it immediately.  That’s the sound I heard yesterday!  That must be what a porcupine sounds like.

Another porcupine responds from the area of the evergreen bushes that Spike stuck his nose into yesterday.

Oh good God in heaven.  He’s already had two strikes.  This is not good.

As the porcupines continue clucking back and forth, the situation becomes very clear.

I’ve made our camp in Porcupine Village.

Ever since we arrived yesterday morning, the crew has been roaming around our campsite, unrestrained, while two porcupines have been hunkering around our home!

This changes everything.

On the road again to a new camp!

We can’t stay here.  Spike knows where they are and he’s not going to forget about them. 

Son of a gun.  I’ve been on the look-out for squirrels, chipmunks, birds, turkeys, rabbits, opossums, skunks, snakes, coyotes, cattle and even mountain lions.  I forgot about porcupines!

Now I know two reasons to move camp.

People and porcupines.


Forest Road 292 makes a right angle at an intersection. I went in the wrong direction!

P.S.  I forgot to tell you about the obstacle we encountered on the way to our new camp. . . a tree across the road!

It took some tight maneuvering between trees and soft spots, but we finally got turned around.  Fortunately, we were on the wrong road anyway, so there was a clear road away from Crazy Jug Point.

Gosh, am I having fun or what!


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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62 Responses to Saving Spikey

  1. Oh No !! And what a pretty spot !! But, I bet you will find another nice spot. Oh the dangers to little doggers !!!

  2. earthdancerimages says:

    And you have wifi now too? You must have moved to a great new location! Glad to know Spikey survived to prowl another day! Pete and Oscar were here today, sorry you missed them!

  3. Lisa says:

    Ohmigosh! You had me on the edge of my seat, girl!! Haha! I had a similar incident with my Trotters (Jack Russell Terrier) and a skunk, but it did not end so quietly, lol! By the way, Dawn dish soap is great for skunk spraying. Anyway, I am absolutely positive you three are off to find another fabulous spot – have fun!!

  4. klbexplores says:

    As always, a wonderful story teller. We are off to a grand adventure too. Going to boondock for the first time. We are headed out to Palouse Falls in Washington State. Taller that Niagara Falls. Keep sweet Spike safe….

  5. Carmen D says:

    You and Spike were so lucky! My Chance (Blackmouth Cur) was hit by one when he was just sniffing it and it cost us $300.00 at the vet bill and since they carry all sorts of bacteria, he is on medication the rest of his life best the bacterial/disease destroyed his immune system. We live out in the country, our yard is totally fenced and that porcupine was walking beside the fence, Chance was surious and went to sniff and Pow! Please be carefully, sometimes it’s not the dogs fault. Porcupine know how to protect themselves. Have a great evening.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s terrible. Poor Chance. I’m sorry he (and you) have to deal with that. It was painful for both of you. I’ll be careful. I pulled out of that camp the same morning.

  6. Kim says:

    The porcupines might have thought you were calling them. Odds are at least one of them is named “Spike”.

  7. Pat says:

    Great spot. I’m sure you will find the perfect place without so many critters. They do make boondocking interesting.

  8. harrietann12 says:

    Geez Louise! I’m worn-out after reading that bit. When it comes to our little guys we can be worse than a mother Lioness. So glad it ended well for all. Here’s is a bit of a hint. My Valentino (and Italian Greyhound, 2 yrs.) is trained to respond to a clicker. I picked it up at PETCO. It’s one of those little things you push with your thumb, click, click, you know.
    One day he bolted out the front door when my friend was leaving. Before I could say, arresto, pausa or hell no, he had already run all the way to the corner on the right and then over to the corner on the left. I ran back in the house to get my keys, figuring he was well on his way to explore the neighborhood or halfway back to Italy. Just then, I spotted the doggie treat can in the living room. Grabbing the can I ran to the door and shook it. I could not see him but it was worth a try. Next thing I know here he comes 90 miles an hour right back into the house. It was Martini time shortly thereafter.
    I decided on the clicker because it is easy to carry (not like the cookie can). What I did was use something he really likes roasted chicken. I would put the chicken a plastic bag in my pocket go out in the backyard, wait for him to go all the way to the fence far away from me . I would call his name and click the clicker at the same time. When he got to me I would give him a piece of chicken and praise him. It only took a couple of times and he got the message. I always carry a clicker with me when I walk him or when I take him for a run on my bike. Don’t know what I’d do without my little pal.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good suggestion, Harriet. I’m not optimistic that single-minded terrier Spike will be as easy to train as your Italian Greyhound. He does respond to food, so I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the idea. I’ll train Bridget at the same time, although she hates and runs away from strange noises. It’s always sumpthin!

      • harrietann12 says:

        A water gun might divert his attention! Used that for my cats when I had cats. Kept them from clambing the drapes and it was fun to watch them wonder where in the heck did the wet stuff come from?

  9. Sherry says:

    The title alone had me worried and then after the first incident I relaxed but I thought “that can’t be all”. You are some good story teller. Hope you’ve found a lovely safe spot where you can stay for a while. Bet Pork Pine’s family was glad to see you go. Dogs do seem to have a hard time knowing what’s good for them. ;-))

  10. cathieok says:

    I have a friend who’s dog got away and was running into the path of a car. In a flash, she yelled “treat” and her dog whirled around and came back. Spike either needs a “safe” word, or a long leash.
    So glad you have found a peaceful spot, hopefully one where porcupines leave you alone!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    You are far more relaxed than we are…we kept ours on a leash mostly, when away from the house. We did have one who would respond (as an adult anyway when off leash), and would come in ANY situation. But that is rare I think with most dogs…esp. once they are into something. I am so glad that all ended well. I would have high tailed it out as soon as I could too, just as you did. I was thinking, if you had not had the dogs, you might have walked right into those porky pines too!! NASTY!!

    My hubby came home and sat down to read the latest entry…and LAUGHED OUT LOUD!! You are a good writer…making things not so funny sound funny!!

    I knew it would cost a lot to fix a dog with quills in it, but I had no idea it would also mean a lifetime of meds thereafter!! WOW…that would be beyond expensive!!

    Hope this next spot is calm from both animals and people!!!

  12. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hi, Elizabeth!

    I’m glad it ended well, too. Can you imagine? Out in the woods, miles from any vet and no way to find one anyway without cell or internet . . . And the pain . . . Too much to think about. We were soooo fortunate.

    Hmmm . . . I hope your husband wasn’t laughing about the tree in the road! Not funny for me!

    Seriously, I’m tickled to hear about someone enjoying one of my posts. Thanks for writing.

    • Elizabeth says:

      No, basically it is how you write…it was about the porky pine encounter!! DOGS…they are funny without trying to be too!!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Sue, I am trying to say you put things humourously that when they happened were not funny!! I would have felt so panicked getting out of there!! And then to have that tree in the road!!! MERCY!!!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I know what you mean, Elizabeth, and thank you!

          Calling for mercy on my behalf…. now that’s funny! There are days I could use some.

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            Don’t forget to hover your cursor on the photos!

            • earthdancerimages says:

              Of course I had to scroll ALLLLL the way back up to hover over the photos! I love that feature and miss it with the slideshows! Love the one of “Spike looking for trouble” LOL

            • Elizabeth says:

              Aha…so you are now in Utah?? At least I got that idea from what is seen with the cursor on the top photo.

    • Bob says:

      Perhaps a “Doogie” 1st aid kit. Needle nose pliers, twezzers, anti-septic of some kind, and I believe there is something that when applied, will cause what-ever (needles, slivers, etc) to “back-out”.
      Also Sue you may want to carry a ‘tow” device, chain,straps, etc, to pull those trees back out of your way, enough to get back around if blocking your route, these can come down with any wind storm after you’re already in to your ‘spot”.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Hi, Bob . . . Are you talking about a come-along? Those things, when tightened up, scare me. I always think something’s going to let go and it will fly back and take my head off or something. Of course, I’d get the straps tangled up and not be able to figure out how to use it. I suppose I could have a chain. That would make a great blog photo. The PTV pulling the BLT pulling a tree! Definitely a panoramic shot!

        I have needle nose pliers, tweezers, and antiseptic (ran out and got some after Spike’s fight with the Attack Lab). I’m curious about this stuff that makes slivers come out.

  13. mickent says:

    My wonderful cat “Puttin” came home one day with a face full of quills. I pulled them out one at a time, no Vet, and he lived for ten more years.

  14. Llanos says:

    Sue, all I can do is be a parrot and repeat what everyone has said before me. You have a way with the written word. I was so worried for Spike! You had me on the edge of my seat then pulled me back with my heart just pounding. I much prefer the area you are in now sans the porcupines. I still envy you. What an adventure!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Llanos! I never tire of compliments!

      The North Kaibab Forest is a delight in springtime. I’ve developed an affection for it.

    • Bill and Ann says:

      Ditto. Love reading the blog sitting on the edge of my seat. Glad Spike did not get the porcupine.

  15. Ed says:

    “He’s ignoring me and gaining on the moving quill-shooting machine,” I am assuming that you wrote this for the drama that it added to the story.

    However, the porcupine does not shoot out these quills at an enemy, as many people think. Even though these quills are dangerous to an enemy, they are actually very loosely attached to the porcupine’s body and come off even at the slightest touch.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      No, I wrote that because it’s what I thought I was seeing. I don’t know how porcupine quills “work.” If it’s not a “quill-shooting machine,” it’s not a mistake in my writing because I wrote what I was thinking at the time. I saw those quills go up and immediately thought they would fly out at him. So they have to be touched, huh? Didn’t know that.

      I write what I see, what I feel, and what my reactions are. That doesn’t mean my reactions (or the inner dialogue with myself that I put in italics) are based on correct information. My thought are my thoughts, and some of them are questionable!

      • cathieok says:

        What??? Porcupines don’t “shoot” their quills? I grew up watching all those cartoons with quill shooting porcupines! Was my whole youth a sham? 🙂 🙂

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Don’t feel bad,, Cathie. I believed those cartoons, too. I recently discovered that roadrunners don’t go “beep beep.” What a letdown.

  16. Emily says:

    Oh gee, looking at your pictures make me wish I was there – right now got tornados south and east of us going thru the area. Sure miss the pine trees – their smell, the sound of the wind thru the pines, the crunch of pine needles under foot.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Gee whiz, Emily. How do you put up with all these tornado scares? Porcupines and trees across my path are nothing compared to tornadoes. I’d be a nervous wreck.

  17. Bev Deem says:

    Your story was well written….am glad that Spike is o.k. We have a Maine Coon Cat who is 15 and we worry about her if she is outside, especially when we are in a remote area. I have heard that you should clip the top of the quills and they release easier. I personally haven’t tried this…it was something I had heard after trying to get quills off our horse’s nose.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oooh, I bet it hurts the animal to have someone clip the top of the quills. You know any jiggling of the quill must make it feel worse. That’s interesting though. If you had a quill that wouldn’t come out any other way, that method’s good to know … if it works.

  18. geogypsy2u says:

    OMG, such excitement on the Kaibab. Spike certainly wouldn’t be happy with the results of connecting to a porcupine.

    Lots of choices for camps under the glittering aspen and swooshy pines.

  19. Lew Johns says:

    Yes, to remove quills from flesh you must first snip off the end. Quills are hollow and swell when imbedded in flesh. Snipping the end allows the quill to shrink slightly and it can then be pulled with a pair of pliers. And yes, I do have experience doing it.


  20. OurBoler says:

    Love the trailer! Looks like a nice place, and a new story.

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