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Dogs and prickly situations Kate Davies | Fri, Jan 28 2011 05:20 PM

I used to have an enormous cactus in my back yard. It was about 8 foot tall, and the scariest and most prickly plant I had ever seen. I once fell on the thing with all my weight on one foot, and the spines that were pulled out were nearly an inch long. Suffice it to say that I avoided this thing like the plague.

Until one night. I was curled up on the couch reading, and I realized that Boscoe was not laying next to me licking his unmentionable parts with his normal enthusiasm and gusto. I walked around the house, slowly at first, and then with increasing panic as I realized that my 'Boog' wasn't anywhere to be found. I fairly sprinted into the back yard to be met with the kind of vision that one would assume only comes with drinking absinthe. Boscoe was halfway up in the cactus. And making his way higher. What he was trying to achieve by scaling this monster is as much a mystery to me now as it ever was, and I am not sure whether he even knew what he was doing up there. The strangest thing about his escapade was the way in which he was inching up the demon plant: He would climb a little higher... and a leaf would get in his way. He would take delicate bites out of it, daintily spitting them out onto the concrete, until the leaf no longer posed an obstruction, and then he would inch up a little more. I was beyond confounded. I must have stood there for a full minute before wondering aloud what the heck he was doing.

He smiled goofily down at me, his tail wagging in a circular motion, basically telling me that he had no idea, but hey, wasn't it fun?! And then he got stuck. The look on his face told me that he had not anticipated an end to this plant. That 'a la' Jack and the Beanstalk, he assumed that there would be something wonderful and magical at the top... rather than a lot more leaves and much bigger spines. There was no room for maneuver - no chance to turn around, and he was too high up to jump down without knocking himself stupid. Or more stupid than he had already proven himself to be by scaling a cactus.

So I got the ladder.

Giving a 60 pund pit bull a fireman's lift down a rickety ladder is some feat, let me tell you, especially when the person doing the carrying has the coordination skills of the average newborn deer. (Between the ages of 5 and 10, I was kicked out of Ballet classes, Tap classes and Gymnastics for having zero coordination. Most of my tutors seemed to be amazed that I could walk in a straight line).

On our arrival back on Terra Firma, I spent some time pulling numerous cactus spines out of various parts of my body, while Boscoe sat and watched me... completely spine-free. His journey up the cactus and his rescue back down had somehow managed to render him completely free of the spiky things, while I resembled a large and very annoyed off porcupine. I spent the next two hours pulling the nasty little spikees out of myself while cursing him with every epithet I could come up with through clenched teeth.

Strangely enough, he never tried that particular game again.

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