Curiosity can be precarious undertaking. This is the story of a dog and a porcupine and a warm sunny day. This is also the story of something much larger, much more human. On this particular afternoon, a standoff occurred between a local porcupine and Titus, a recently adopted rescue dog. Acting explicitly in self-defense, the porcupine lodged a single quill in Titus’s lip. This resulted in a few minutes of loud barking and a trip to the veterinarian’s office. The porcupine was unharmed. More interesting is the motivation of the two creatures.
Titus lived his first five months scrounging for food in a trailer park before coming to live with the Shaw family in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Here, he found a comfortable life with a steady food supply and a new family. Titus now had the luxury of curiosity. So when he stumbled upon on odd looking creature, he was more interested in meeting someone new than in making it his lunch or protecting his humans. After the encounter, Titus returned carrying the weight of disappointment: he had not made a new friend. His tail wagged just a bit slower as the vet removed the spine and sent him on his way.
The porcupine, meanwhile, was quite disturbed by this encounter. It has spent a lazy morning eating grass and finding water. It was immediately on edge as it sense the approach of a ferocious predator. It tried to slink away unnoticed into the underbrush, but soon raised its spines in a thorny defense. When the beast began to draw closer, the porcupine did the only thing it knew how, detaching its quill in the general direction of the threat. After a time, the monster slunk away in defeat, and the porcupine spent the rest of the day hiding in sheer terror.
This is the second draft of a writing assignment for my Digital Journalism course and will be edited and expanded over the course of the next several weeks. You can read the first draft here.