Friday, March 5, 2010

SE - Day 7 - Part One: The Javelina Incident

Another bright, cloudless morning. We're on a wide flat plain bristling with mesquite trees, prickly pear and cholla cactus. The sun warms us quickly as we pack up and move from our found-in-the-dark-near-the-road spot to a place a bit further down a side road away from the main dirt road. Trina makes her coffee and we cook breakfast. The dogs range around sniffing, then loll in the sun.

Bella, the old, deaf dog got a good night's sleep. But no one else slept much. Why? The little dogs spent all night trying to get out of the tent (at first) and then the back of the truck (later) in order to hunt down whatever it was they heard or smelled in the nearby desert.

Trina rolls out a pad and lays down for a nap. I'm in a chair writing about not getting much sleep the night before. This calm does not last long.
From AZ Travel

Both small dogs sit bolt upright, bark small sharp barks, and dash off. I stand and look to where they're heading. Moving steadily among the twisted trunks of the trees is a dark, streamlined shape that can only be a javelina. I've never seen one before and what I do is say something like "Cool! Javelina!" What I should be doing is whistling for the dogs and pushing buttons on the shock collar zapper I have on a cord around my neck.

Trina is groggily getting to her feet. The javelina makes an abrupt turnabout and begins running away, dogs chasing fast and perhaps closing the gap. She says something like "Zap!" and I look away from the chase and try to find the right button to press, but I've never actually used this thing before. She snatches it away and we're whistling and I guess she's pressing buttons. The dogs and javelina are out of sight by now, so we don't know what's happening.

She's quickly throwing a few things into the truck and locking it, and I'm changing out of my inappropriate-for-running-through-cactus sandals and then we're running through the prickly forest in the direction the chase was headed.

We run through cactus and brush in the direction of barking, yelping, screeches of pain -- and then silence. We keep running and cross a wash where there are tracks that are probably javelina. While we're standing there trying to pick out something from the chaos of tracks that will point us in the right direction, Zeek comes trotting down the wash to us, shaking his head fiercely, like he does when he's been zapped by his collar. More whistles, and soon Sprocket re-joins us, giddy and happy as usual. "That was fun!" his body language says. Yeah, fun, we think, as we grimly head back to the truck. "Aren't javelina supposed to be nocturnal?"

At the truck, we leash the dogs and start the discussion about what must have happened out there and how to prevent it in the future. Zeek is in a bit of a dark mood. I attribute it to his sense of failure. JR terriers are bred for hunting things larger than themselves, and he has just returned without the prize. But when I coerce him onto my lap, I notice his mouth is bloody from tooth marks. Then we find a deep puncture on the underside of his throat. He doesn't want to move his mouth. Ah, crap.

We drive into the northern fringes of Tucson and find a veterinary clinic that has time to check him out. They clean his wounds, prescribe antibiotics and pain pills. No major hidden damage. We hope the javelina, without any of these treatments, is okay. We have more discussion about how to keep our little hunter's instincts in check so he won't harass wildlife. And so he won't get his throat torn out.
From AZ Travel

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