Have you ever seen grass grow
by Charlie MacInnes, Canada
It was a beautiful, sunny June day, a Saturday over 20 years ago. I had two families visiting, one to meet my elk dogs and the other to get some parenting advice. We sat on the lawn in front of the house. Trouble, one of the corgi bitches disappeared in the tall grass behind the shed by the driveway. Soon afterwards came a meaningful, questioning WUFF ?? Two other corgi bitches trotted off to see. Out of the tall grass that grew around the shed the three came, Trouble behind, the other two on either side of one ... Porcupine!! They drove it straight towards the lawn and towards the people. Tundra, the female moose attacked immediately and - CLAP - her face was full of spikes, with the removal of which we spent the next half an hour. The three Corgi girls, on the other hand, hadn't received a single sting. Most of my elkhounds got a face full of spikes in their youth, but afterwards they learned to chase the porcupines into the trees at a safe distance. Not so tundra. She had sworn vengeance on the species, and it never crossed her mind that she had lost all meeting. I found it remarkable that the three corgis asserted their authority and drove the animal out into the open and away from a refuge tree.
Then I remembered something interesting. I have never seen a spiked corgi in 40 years and when I started inquiring I found only one corgi so far that had got too close to a porcupine. Genie Bishop owns a campsite in Vermont, where she spends almost every summer. None of their corgis ever had a stinger removed, but a dachshund once came across a porcupine at the campsite. The only "spiked" cardigan in my neighborhood was Emily Ann from Sherry Saunders. She came back from a walk with three loose spikes on her face. But the German pointing dog she'd been with in the forest was full of face, and I think she just wanted to help her buddy. One of my previous show cardigans rolled around in a decayed porcupine less than two hours before it was due to appear in the ring; but none of the spines were stuck, all he needed was a quick bath.
This led me to think that the only time corgis were splashed on by a skunk was on a late evening walk in late November where moose dogs, labradors, and corgis were attending. A terrible commotion broke out between the trees, the stench billowed down the hill and I had to bathe seven dogs, including three corgis. I'm sure the corgis weren't the attackers, just the rearguard. Incidentally, the Skunk was killed because Dwyn the Corgi brought him home two weeks later, frozen solid.
It seems that corgis are wary of skunks. Dai Morgan, my first cardigan, was even "sniffing" the local Skunk in London, Ontario, where we lived at the time. We were returning from a walk one evening, two free-range corgis and myself. As we approached the white front door, I thought I saw our shadow on the door, until this shadow straightened its characteristic bushy tail and growled, almost 2 m away. I called the two dogs by foot and we all stepped back. The Skunk, in its usual way, walked along the house, sniffing, without hurrying.
Skunk or skunk
About two weeks later we were on the hiking trail along the Thames River, Ontario during the day. The dogs ran ahead freely and examined the area. After a bend in the path I saw a Skunk coming towards us. Dai walked up to him and they sniffed each other, first on the nose and then under the tail. Finn the elkhound was watching the situation less than two meters away. The encounter was so casual that the skunk and the dogs obviously knew each other. You could almost hear the exchange: "How are you, Skunk?" "Well, thank you Corgi, and how are you and your friend?" When the Skunk saw me, it disappeared into the tall grass, but without hurry!
And what do you do if a Corgi should, for once, attack a porcupine and the nearest vet is hours away. When I go out on a tour, I always have small Vise-Grips pliers with me. The forceps are set so that they grip tightly around the stinger when you snap them shut, but be careful not to tighten them so tightly that the stinger breaks. You should also have a few sedative pills with you for the dog; it is easier to treat that way.
For encounters with a Skunk, there are now products with enzymes that break down the mercaptan, which gives the Skunk musk its strong sulfuric odor. The deodorant NOK-OUT is also said to be effective.
While corgis seem to know how to bypass porcupines and skunks, they are extremely adept at acquiring "bush perfume". A dead snake is irresistible, followed by a dead fish. The more it stinks the better; they just have to wallow in it. And have you ever seen a puppy find a pile of mink, raccoon or other droppings, carefully sniff them, and think, "Is it fresh enough to eat or should I just wallow in it?" When the calves are left on the fresh green pastures in early summer, they leave behind particularly thin, strongly smelling cow dung. This is first class rolling material. So your emergency pharmacy should also contain something that can remove dirt and odor. The Filthy Animal 32: 1 shampoo from Kelco is just the thing.
From the Canadian Cardigan Corgi Club's newsletter, March 2005, courtesy of the author.
Charlie MacInnes lives in Stouffville, Ontario,
and breeds Cardigan Corgis and Norwegian Elkhounds
under the kennel name Finnshavn.
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