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Ancient Elkhounds Meet The Mighty Northern Canadian Porcupine

I will try my hand at a story for the kids...enjoy

Canadian Porcupine Legends

The year is 2020 - an old grey porcupine sits nibbling on a poplar branch. All the young porcupines are gathered round, it's time for the old grizzled old-timer to share his tale with the youngsters once more. Come on Grampa, tell us about the time you met the feared Elkhounds, tell us again, come on, we want to hear that again.

The old porcupine, a magnificent oldtimer, known to have carried some 30,000 quills in his armour, almost six kg, he had over the years told the tale many times, the young porcupines never got tired of hearing it. Here is how it goes.

Canadian Porcupine
The Northern Canadian Porcupine
Can have up to 30,000 quills
Can grow to 15 lbs or more
Second largest rodent in Canada

It was a good start to the day, I remember it well says the oldtimer, the sun was shining, weather had broken, the storm of the last few days was over, so I wanted to find some new branches. I decided to move to the North a ways. But Grampa one of the young porcupines asked, wasn't that the territory of the fearless Elkhounds, those ones we hear about, were you not scared. Well young fella, now I have to say, I had heard the tales of these great dogs. Many a coyote, and fox had ran by us scared. The lynx no longer prowled this particular region, word was, not even the black bear dared go to their range.

Well Grampa, what was different about these great grey dogs asked the youngsters? Let me explain said the oldtimer. It had been said that one of the most fearless of Elkhounds, a great male named Takoda lived and ranged through this region, he was a fearless Elkhound, many centuries of hunting and guarding was his heritage, from the Siberian ranges throughout the Scandinavian countries and years in the Canadian north, for centuries his ancestors, they had been known to be fearless.

One of the reasons that we as porcupines must fear the ancient Elkhound is they don't know us, for centuries in their native land they roamed and ruled, there were no creature they would not engage. When they crossed the great water to our land, they brought no knowledge of our prowess and deadly quill. Thus the Elkhound will most definitely attack. An ancient Elkhound even more so you must be careful young fellas. The oldtimer continued with reverence...it was said of this male Takoda that he alone was enough to make coyotes quiet on a kill on a moonlight night, yet all who roamed this frozen wasteland knew that there was more to be feared than even Takoda alone.

What Grampa, what could it be? asked the little porcupines. Hush now, be patient, I'll tell you. It was known that this particular Elkhound Male rarely traveled alone, in fact it was seldom that he did not have one of his fearless partners with him, some would say the toughest dogs to be found, female Elkhounds no doubt. It was said at times this Takoda roamed with 3 sometimes four of these fearless females, one of the toughest was one he had sired, raised, and trained for combat himself. Her name was Tora.

Oh Grampa, do you mean the legendary Tora, Grampa was she there? the little porcupines asked. Wait, let me continue said the old grizzled porcupine. On this day I had made it to the region, the snow was deep, but I was strong and had made it to the clump of poplar I wanted after many hours of travel. I had no sooner got there and had just started to eat some bark when I heard the sound I'll never forget.

What Grampa, what sound? asked the littlest porcupine. The oldtimer continued... It was the bark of the Elkhound, there is no mistaking it - I knew it had to be the feared Takoda - make no mistake young bark biters, I felt my time might be up. I decided to make my stand, I would hold fast. Then I heard another sound that made my warm belly turn to ice. What Grampa, what sound? asked the same little guy... The oldtimer continued...I heard the fearless females, not one, not two, but three. Not only did I have the mighty Takoda bearing down on me I had the most feared females in the land, Tora, GÆDA and the Nightmare they call Kamp.

The Feared Females
The Feared Females
Nightmare Kamp, Agile GÆDA,
Fearless Tora

Grampa, oh No, not the Nightmare... what did you do? asked the oldest of the young porcupines... Well said the oldtimer, as you know, we have to be steady, we have to stand fast, we don't cause trouble, we don't go out of our way to cause pain, but as you know, when danger arrives it's best to bristle up, and stand fast. I knew I couldn't outrun them, I knew I couldn't out manoeuvre them, it was said that GÆDA was the most agile of females, I also was aware that having the Mighty Takoda coming near was going to be bad, and the fact he had the feared females with him, well this, little quill piglets, this would test my resolve. There would be only one thing that would save me today I knew, and that was to make sure on the first wave of attack that I filled the mouths of these fearless warriors with the longest and sharpest quills I had. That would be the only way out for me, and hope and pray that they would spare me for another battle.

Did they attack Grampa? asked the young porcupines...the oldtimer continued... when you travel in his region, when you cross the territory of the mighty Takoda, you need to know he will move you out, he fears nothing, he has no knowledge of my sharp quills, this makes for a deadly opponent youngsters, alas he made the decision to move me out. He came in fast, and right beside him came the fearless Tora. I had to act fast. I gave the biggest longest quills I had as many as I could, right into the jaws of this mighty warrior, and I swung my tail many times and gave him as many as I could on the sides of his mighty jaws. Then I felt the jaws of Tora closing down on my thigh, I knew from the legends that she was a hamstring expert. I bristled my leg as stiff as I could, knowing that if she closed on my leg I would be belly up. I sure didn't want to be flipped on my back, with my unprotected belly up for the Nightmare, and Agile herself to devour, no, I had to stand steady amongst the rush of these fearless masters of combat.

Grampa what happened next, what about the other two? asked the young quill makers - the oldtimer continued... I then heard some strange noise, it sounded like a command, I could see the other two stop - they did not stop out of fear, they stopped out of respect for the command, the others pulled back, I could no longer see them. I could still see Takoda and Tora, they were going to come again, they were circling, but they were pawing at their heads, shaking their heads, I had landed many quills. I would be a long time growing them back. I was praying it would be enough to stop them. I heard the strange command again, sharp, loud. Takoda and Tora turned toward me, gave me one last look and snarl as if to say, "Saved by the Command - Till We Meet Again" and they moved out of the thicket.

Norwegian Elkhound
Ashten, Takoda, Jaegar
Winter 2012
Getting ready to hunt!

I stayed still for many hours, when darkness came and the moon began shining I knew I could move on. For many days I traveled, I wanted no part of that territory, I did not want to meet with them ever again, my life had been spared, I had faced many an opponent before and since, but none struck fear and cold into my belly like the mighty Takoda, fearless Tora, Agile GÆDA and the one known as Nightmare Kamp. Grampa you were very brave, I hope one day to meet an Elkhound, I'll give him many quills as well said one brave little quill porker. Don't be so hasty young fella, we look for no trouble but always remember, if your ever faced with the Fearless Elkhound your only hope is to spare no quills.

I hope you all enjoyed my story, I had to make some light of the situation, it was a bizzare deal no doubt. So, all the dogs are fine, and so is the porcupine, although he is pretty much bald. Takoda and Tora lit into the porcupine before I saw him, I didn't get right up to them in time, they were ranging ahead of me. If they think I am in harms way, well...so much for what is about to harm me they think. I saw and heard some commotion and began running up, the other two were full tilt over there and I gave them a banshee scream, "Stop", "By Me", both GÆDA and Kamp they hear that, they know, it's no fooling time, we best listen. So they stopped and returned out of the thicket. Could you imagine four full of quills, good gracious, and no doubt, if one is in it, all are in it with Elkhounds, they are pack fighters, quill pig or not!

Takoda and Tora were both upset, but both trying hard to wipe their faces, shake these things loose, anything to get them out. Nuts. Just Nuts. I got the leashes back on everyone and made my decision to head back home immediately without trying to remove any right there, it would have been too nuts. Well, I pretty much had to drag them two all the way of course as they were wanting to stop all the time and paw at their face etc. Lot's of bleeding starting now of course from around the fangs, gums, etc.

So finally got home, I was soaked, half jogged, half ran, but all the time pulling and it was about 2 miles or so. I was lucky, Marlene had just pulled in, it was about six p.m. when I got there, I called her we took Tora and Takoda into the shop and started pulling them out. Oh man, Takoda had them all over inside his mouth, on the roof of his mouth, between his teeth, lower jaw, upper jaw, all over the sides, his nose, crap.

Let me say this, you find out just how much your dog loves you, or doesn't pulling these out. After about 40 he said enough, but he was good to me, no doubt, I practically had my nose in his mouth to see some of them and pull them, he trusted me, didn't like it, but by gosh he is a faithful hound, all good things though come to an end with that kind of miserable test of patience, those things are brutal on the way out. As much as he trusts I am doing the best for him right then, he just wasn't going to let us get them out anymore. Besides, he growls once at Marlene and my help is gone, she is outta there, so enough for him tonight.

We went to work with Tora, well, that is like wrestling with a Shetland pony, she is so strong, Marlene had her in a headlock, a leg lock, tried an armbar, you name it, every hold in MMA, none of it worked, she is part Brazilian with a grey or silver belt in jujitsu that Tora. She can out muscle out manoeuvre any hold. But eventually we had most out. Enough that they could at least make it through the night.

I scheduled the vet for first thing in the morning to put them both to sleep and take the rest out. One thing with quills, you need to be sure they are all out, all the ones on the side , inside the mouth, everywhere, as they could work their way into the body, this is a serious part, no foolin, we wanted to be sure we had all of them out. So, down I go with them, well, that was almost as nuts, Takoda of course, he doesn't like the vet clinic on the very best days, doesn't like the crowds, the people, none of it, stick him full of quills and try taking him in, good gracious. Everyone for blocks hid while I got him into the clinic, and then got a pretty good hold of him of course, then the vet gave him his relax shot. Too crazy to be sure.

We got them all out though, there is no way you would be finding them all without sedation with these guys away, there was a tray full just around his teeth alone, some of the big ones in his upper jaw area I couldn't pull, he wouldn't let me, they were now able to be extracted.

Tora, she is a bruiser, we had to give her another sleep shot, a regular dose didn't phase her, she was still in hunt/fight mode, so another half shot and she finally went to sleep. Got them all out, then we gave them both a shot to wake them back up again, and I loaded them up before they came to. Took them home, gave them some nice new blankets, and some easy soft food, they slept for two days basically. Doing great today, I took them for a good walk today and they are happy to be cruising the scene. All is well.

There resides with the Elkhound no instinctive knowledge of the porcupine, it's one of the few foes they have not encountered in thousands of years, only the last few hundred or so years in North America have they crossed paths, so be forewarned.

There are few things that will best four Elkhounds, but let me say this, the porcupine is one of those that will. He was a brave rascal that fella, he will have some tall tales to tell no doubt.