Niko, 0; Porcupines, 2

You would think our big smart dog would learn, but nooooo. He is spending his second day at the vet getting quills removed from his nose. Not as bad this time, so perhaps he has learned SOMETHING. And he didn’t complain. Glenn said he actually looked pretty abashed when he got taken to the vet AGAIN.
Home from the vet. A little woozy. Duuuuuuh.

We were both pretty upset with him this morning. Second day in a row when our lives have been turned upside down by his insistence in putting his snout where it doesn’t belong. There was talk of finding him another home, as he is a total rascal, doesn’t listen, and is headstrong and absolutely has to do things HIS way. That is the Malamute / probable wolf in him – they are self-sufficient. Knee-jerk reaction on our part; this isn’t the first time we’ve threatened to move him on down the road, and he’s still with us.

While I was walking our other three dogs this morning, the ones who actually like being with people and come when called, I had time to reflect on my reaction to his actions, and to ponder what L-O-V-E(tm) might reveal to me.
LISTEN – aside from yesterday’s shrieks of surprise when he came up with a painful nose full, he hasn’t said much on a physical level. So what was he trying to say from what I’ll call his soul self? I get the definite feeling he is protecting his family by calling out what he considers danger. If the puppies got involved with the porcupine, that could be very bad indeed, as they are not quite 5 months old and have no experience with the more dangerous side of existence. So from his perspective, he’s doing his job.
OBSERVE –  When he came home yesterday, friend Porcupine was still under our front deck, and Niko really, really wanted to get in there. Of course we kept him on a leash, and then once the Animal Removal person arrived and capture Mr. P in a humane trap, to be taken away to an animal reserve, Niko was released. Even though I had (I thought) blocked off access to the deck, he bulled his way under it to make sure the danger was gone. Interestingly, once he knew it wasn’t there any more, he was no longer compelled to go anywhere near the underside of the deck. Making sure the world is safe for his little brood. Glenn is the pack leader, I’m second in command, but Niko works really hard to let us know that as our Lieutenant we can rely on him to go where it might be difficult for us to do so. Like under the deck. And then this morning he came home with more quills, although an inspection of the area revealed no other porcupine. Could he have found a place where Mr. P rested before going under the deck and got himself another snootload? We don’t know. The Animal Removal man did say Mr. P was missing a LOT of quills, and thought he might be dehydrated.
VALUE – Even though his actions are annoying, if I look at Niko’s actions from his point of view, it makes sense. Let’s be real here, it’s fun to be a hero, and rooting out interlopers is a big part of what he does and who he is. But he also bore the brunt of the danger, literally in his face, so we knew there was a potential problem lurking on the property. If he hadn’t done that, Mr. P could still be under the deck, and puppies or kitties could easily have a very nasty encounter. So I choose to value his sacrifice of his nose and sensibilities to keep us all safe.
EXPAND – Just thinking about the situation in this way is an expansion. Turning it this way and that, mulling over the implications of not knowing we had a prickly visitor, and respecting Niko’s willingness to leap into the fray whenever needed. He is truly a magnificent dog, and I can thank him for helping us keep our property porcupine free. And ask him to just bark at the next one to get our attention instead of touching it (hopefully the news has gone out on the Porcupine-vine that our place is to be avoided at all costs).
It is truly all about L-O-V-E(tm) – his for us, and ours for him.