Mike’s Annual Praxis

When I was young we lived overlooking the North Saskatchewan River just east of Edmonton, Alberta. We had five acres of land, three of which were forested slopes leading down to the river.

Mike was a border collie, but more than that, he was a vital part of our family.

Today I am remembering one specific aspect of Mike. Perhaps you will hear more of him in further stories.

Mike was an extremely smart and intelligent collie. He could round up and control just about anything. We saw him work, as over the years we had horses, sheep, goats, ducks, and the way he bossed around the neighbours cows was quite a performance.

Yet, with all his smarts and good thinking, Mike had, for some unknown reason, what we considered to be a major irrational moment every year.

Every spring, Mike would go into the woods on a date. Not the kind of date you may think. Mike had a rendezvous with an animal most would try to avoid. His annual meeting was with our prickly neighbour, the porcupine.

At some time during every spring, Mike, for reasons known only to himself, would head off into the woods to interact with the friendly neighbourhood porcupine. And every year, the result would be the same.

Mike would appear at the back door with a muzzle full of quills, and my mother, with my assistance to hold him, would lovingly and patiently remove them all, and then treat his wounds. As this process was replayed each year, Mum would softly lecture him and suggest that he recognize the error of his ways. And the next year, we would go through the entire process once more.

Mike was never that good at letting us know why he did certain things, so the mystery of his annual, and painful, sojourn into the woods remains to this day.