She must have spotted a squirrel. That what I think when Aki brakes from the trail, growls, then raises her wagging tail. She stops suddenly and turns to me with a questioning look on her face. Two feet away, a huge porcupine is burrowed into the trailside grass. The large bald spot on its back is proof of previous dog encounters. Those must have ended with a trip to the veterinarian for quill removal.
Relieved that my little dog has the sense not to tangle with porcupines, I lead her down off the mountain, stopping to pick and hand feed her blue berries. It’s the least I can do for the wise little dog. At the bottom of the hill she breaks away, directly toward another porcupine, acts stunned when I call her back. As the spiny creature waddles under a blue berry bush I am not at all certain whether Aki would have survived without a mouth full of quills if I had not called her back.