Monday, October 19, 2009

Porcupine Lake and My First Trail Runs

This past weekend we went to northern Wisconsin to hang out at my aunt and uncle's cabin. The kids had an extra long weekend due to the Minnesota teacher's convention so we didn't feel like sitting around the house staring at each other - let's go run around in the woods.

After work on Thursday we piled everyone in the car - including the dog - and hit the road. The weekend was supposed to be cold and warm so we over-packed and it took me way longer to load the car than expected. It was dark by the time we arrived, but Friday morning greeted us with decent weather - although a little chilly. Kids, get outside!

Rake up all the leaves in the forest.

F sporting the "Northwoods Ninja" look and E working the "Northwoods Homeless Person" look.

Learn to start a fire.

"Now kids, the first thing we do in Northern Wisconsin is learn to play with matches." (That is my aunt - the kids' great-aunt. She is a Girl Scout leader so she is fully qualified.)

My mom - "Grandma" - and the kids.

Good job with the matches, kids.

Build your own shelter. Make it sturdy, it's where you will be staying for three days.

A, reliving her favorite high school graduation picture poses.

As you can see we spent much of our time traipsing around the woods. The dog had a wonderful time following every scent he came across. Turns out he is a pretty good mouser. He found two mice and proceeded to walk around with them hanging out of his mouth by the tail, flipping them up in the air, pouncing on them and picking them up again to do it all over again. Good times. That should probably have been an indication that we should keep a close eye on him, but we are dumb.

It's hunting season. The dog needed a jacket so he wouldn't get shot.

After he had disappeared for about an hour, I started to get worried. I started calling him and then I heard barking. That's never a good sign. It should be noted that there are bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons and any number of other critters in these woods, so I was fearing the worst.

Here is where the trail running comes in. The dog never barks and when he does it's like two or three times and then he's done. Well, he was barking like crazy. Not a panicked bark. An excited bark. Son of a bitch, he is fighting with something.

Standing near the cabin, I could easily tell the direction his bark was coming from so I started running toward him. I ran down a ravine and up the other side.

Through a heavily wooded area.

Then through a bog and found him fully engaged harassing something under a log. When I yelled at him he looked up at me and I immediately knew what he was tangling with.

A damn porcupine.

He had a face full of quills, but was undaunted.

I grabbed his collar and dragged him away from the porcupine but he fought me to get back at it. In my haste I had neglected to grab a leash so my only option was to pick him up and carry him back home - through the bog, through the dense woods, down the ravine and up the ravine.
He weighs 60 lbs! All in my Blundstone boots (surprisingly capable trail running footwear.) It was like half a mile.

Once home we started yanking out quills. Luckily none of them were in his nose or eyes.

Blissfully unaware that he has over a dozen porcupine quills firmly embedded in his face.

We got a pair of pliers to do the job.

Northern Wisconsin medical equipment.

He wasn't real excited to have these removed so I had to be a little persuasive.

Yes, I am fully laying on top of my dog. And, yes, I am getting a little thin on top.

We were able to get all of them out without breaking any, but man is that dog strong.

Almost done.

After all that excitement and hard work, I didn't need to do the run I had been planning. We kept the dog on a leash the rest of the night and spent more time around the fire.

Gotta love the fire.

Apollo thinks he is a lap dog.

A likes her beer. (E likes her marshmallows.)

A likes her beer A LOT!

My smokey family.

I am the dog bed.

Sunday morning we were all well rested and got packed up to head home. We let the dog roam around a little bit and kept a close eye on him. For awhile.

The kids went to visit their fort one more time and the dog followed them, unbeknown to us. Suddenly, I had a panicked feeling. I ran to ask the kids if they had seen him and they said, "Oh, yeah. He went that way." Back into the bog!

I ran back to the cabin to grab a leash this time. When I got back to the top of the ravine, I could hear him barking. This time it was even further away. I ran my ass back to the spot where the porcupine had originally been, fearing that he went back to settle the score. When I got there the porcupine was gone and I could still hear the dog barking.

I was closer and had to run up another heavily wooded hill at which point I saw the dog with is his head behind a tree. When I yelled at him, he poked his head around and I saw his face again covered with quills - more than twice as many as last time.
That fricking dog picked up the scent of that porcupine and followed it to it's new hiding spot.

When I went to grab his collar he took off. I ended up chasing him back toward the cabin for over an hour at a pretty good pace.

We got him back to the cabin and proceeded to pull as many quills out as possible, but about four broke off. He didn't seem to care and after I was done he tried to lick my face.

When we got home we took him to the vet to have the rest removed.

Sad pup.

Awaiting his fate.

The vet was easily able to get the few that were still embedded and he was back to his old self this morning.

Next time we'll bring a long leash and I will bring my trail running shoes.


Molly said...

Holy cow, that's one hell of a weekend.'ve got to love that they don't let their brains keep them from letting instinct take over *sigh*

Charisa said...

OH MY - that is quite possibly the best weekend adventure ever! #1 - your kids fort building skills absolutely rock. #2 - your dog may not be the brightest dog out there, but he is SO CUTE!! #3 - I can only picture you chasing the dog around aka trail running. CLASSIC!!

MM said...

Ah,runs as in more than one run. I was thinking digestive problems. And do you know your dog only has 3 legs?

IAN said...

Ok, is it me or does your dog have 3 legs. Either way the dog is RAD (even moreso if he is a 3 legged porky hunter). I have heard those things hurt like a &*&^#(*@# (* & &*(&)(!!! Dude must be one tough dog.

D said...

That picture of A winking with her beer is priceless. Love it.
The picture of you mounting your dog, on the other hand... ummmm... ya.

t-odd said...

My dog does indeed have only three legs. And he is one tough sumbitch.

Teresa said...

I think your dog is preparing your for your children during teenage years. A tight leash and some tackling skills to keep them under control :)

WOW...hope that weekend isn't realived anytime soon, but great stories to live by!


Tasha the Triathlon Goddess said...

Love the pics! But jesus christ, TWICE with the porcupine?? I don't know why I'm surprised - Kona would do the same damn thing. Ouch. Glad the pooch is okay - he's a cutie!

Roo said...

I'm clueless. I had to read the comments to even notice the dog only had 3 legs.

Beer and marshmallows. YUM.

Beth said...

Oh my - I can't believe it happened twice!!! He must be tough - didn't even seem to phase him! Well at least you got that run in... :) Glad Apollo is okay!!

Question Authority. said...

I always wanted three-legged dog.