Al doesn't even have his C.D. or C.G.C., but he did me proud Saturday and passed his PP.T.!
I'd been waiting, worrying, and preparing for the Porcupine Test for years. By passing it, he saved our most notable exploit to date (more on that elsewhere). I'm told porcupine quills are air-filled, so if you cut them, they become easier to extract.
The porcupine was not far off the trail, on a big log, unsurprisingly unconcerned. It was beautiful, with very long (8"? 10"?) reddish-tawny fur in a splash of sunshine (this long wispy hair is not the armament, that's underneath, in the back). It looked like something you'd want to pet.
I only noticed it because Al alerted, started sniffing, and left the trail (only a few feet, not far). He didn't bark or chase, just watched from a distance.
I had the quick-draw leash on him in record time. I and some others approached within a few feet of the porky; Al was tied to me, so he was close to it, too. I just told Al to "Stay Close" and "Leave It", and he was perfect. He never barked, seemed interested, but not agitated or excited.
"GOOD DOG, Al!"
So if he ever passes his Skunk Test, he'll be PP.T./S.T./X.
Al, mercifully, doesn't seem to have a strong prey drive. There'd been a deer in the middle of the trail minutes earlier, and I'm not sure he even noticed it. I have pics of him very close to marmots and blue grouse, without harassing them.
I don't see porcupines often. They're unobtrusive, don't move fast (don't have to). I guess we just walk by them without noticing, unless we have a dog to point them out.
Nobody messes with a porcupine except a fisher. Somehow, a fisher can flip and disembowel them. I've seen the aftermath of this -- in, of all places, Fisher Creek.My brothers were together when the retriever attacked a porcupine. Scott said his stomach muscles were sore and cramped next day after spending a couple hours restraining the dog while Greg removed the quills.
This photo more clearly shows the part of the porky you want your dog to leave alone: