Canine calamities

Tuesday, March 25

Another lovely day at our camp off Vulture Mine Road south of Wickenburg, Arizona, although windier and cooler than previous days.  As is my usual morning routine I’m at my table at the rear of the Best Little Trailer with coffee and laptop.  Bridget lies beside me.

Crashing clumsily up the step at the door, Spike appears.



Happy Spike on a previous day

Spike’s eyes are round and glassy with pain.  Both front legs and paws are impaled with thorns!  Damn cholla! 


Cholla branches turn brown and fall to the ground to lie in wait for a victim.

“Oh, Spikey, I’ll help you, boy!”

I grab a dishtowel and use it to yank out the 5-inch long branch of cholla stuck to one of his front legs, tossing the dishtowel and cholla out the door.

I fumble in a storage drawer stacked next to the refrigerator and pull out a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Kneeling on the floor next to Spike, I set to work pulling out thorns.

Spike bravely sits still during the painful procedure.

Some of the thorns in his paw are deeply embedded and when pulled, blood seeps.  I check his face, chin, and neck.  Thank God he didn’t try to pull them out with his mouth.

“That was a good boy to come to me right away, Spikey.”

All the barbs removed, the poor guy moves over to the scatter rug and lies down in a minor state of shock.

I sweep the floor thoroughly to remove all thorns.  Spike gets up for a drink.  A while later he’s recovered and he and Bridget eat a hearty breakfast.  I tuck him into bed with soothing words.  After a short spell of licking his front legs, he falls asleep.


The setting sun sets Vulture Peak aglow.

The rest of the day passes uneventfully for which I am very glad.


Pudding Pop keeps her eyes on me.

Wednesday, March 26

I sit in the camp chair next to the fire ring and read another Dick Francis book on my kindle.  I’m enjoying his light mysteries.  I’ve read seven so far.

Suddenly Bridget and Spike commence barking.

“What is it, guys?”  I get up from my chair and walk around the Perfect Tow Vehicle.  A woman holding a small white dog stands at the entrance to our campsite.

“Hello!” she calls out.

“Just a minute!  I’ll be right with you!”  I dash into the Best Little Trailer and grab my camera.

I approach the woman with the dog.

“You can put her down.  They”ll be okay together.”


“Hey, babe.”  “Hi, there.” “Nice to meet ya’.”

The woman’s name is Rachel.  She and her dog, Macha, are our new neighbors.  Their van is parked on the other side of a cluster of trees up the lane.

“C’mon and sit with me,” I invite her, snapping photos of the three canines.  “The best shots are always when they first meet,” I explain.


Getting to know you, getting to know all about you . . .

I like Rachel right away.

Our conversation flows naturally as we share a little about ourselves.  I learn that Rachel is full-timing in her van (since last October) in an effort to live in as chemical-free environment as possible.  This is not a philosophical decision.  It’s essential for her survival.  She has severe reactions to mold, pesticides, cleaners, propane fumes, and numerous chemicals.  Not to be too personal here, but Rachel deals with several health issues, including  electrical sensitivity (EMF),

A cancer survivor, Rachel’s attitude is upbeat in spite of her daily health challenges.

Little Macha, her eight-year-old, nine-pound Jack Russell terrier is a cutie.


This sweet, loving  dog was going to be dropped off at the pound by her previous owners. The vet intervened and called Rachel.

Macha soon tires of the crew, as do they of her.  She cuddles on Rachel’s chest and dozes off as we talk.

Rachel’s interested in fiberglass travel trailers so I invite her inside to look over the Best Little Trailer.

We sit outside and talk until the shadows stretch across the campsite and the air turns cool.

“We’d better be going.  I have some things to get done before it gets dark.”  As Rachel walks away with little Macha trotting alongside her on a retractable leash, I’m struck by how very extraordinary Rachel is.   What a courageous and resilient person. 

The crew and I go inside the BLT.

“Well, poopies, are you ready for supper?” At that moment I hear a dog yelp, followed by Rachel’s panicked yell, “SUE!”

I rush outside and around the PTV.  Oh, God, no!  Cholla! 

“I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!” I holler back, running inside for the pliers.

The little dog is a mess! 

Cholla thorns are all over her chin and legs.  I yank off a cluster of thorns from her lower jaw.  Macha cries out in pain, wiggles and squirms, and tries to pull out the thorns herself, making matters worse.  Frantically, I pull thorns as fast as I can while Rachel tries to keep Macha still.

“Oh, no!” Rachel exclaims.  “She has them inside her mouth!”  We pull up her lips.  A thorn sticks out of her gums.  Thorns are way back in her mouth, outside her teeth, jammed into the flesh of her cheeks from the inside.


Macha darted into the cholla at the end of her leash before Rachel could stop her.

Both Rachel and I pry Macha’s jaws apart.  Not once does Macha growl at me or try to bite me, in spite of her pain.  Blood and froth collect on her chin.  At long last we’ve removed all the thorns.

Except one.

Macha keeps sticking out her tongue.  Rachel discovers a thorn stuck to the UNDERSIDE of Macha’s tongue.  How in the world are we ever going to get that out!

Have you ever tried to hold onto a dog’s tongue while the dog is in pain?

“You know, Rachel.  We should put her on the pillows on my bed.  Put her on her back under the light.”

Inside the BLT we work on the poor pup, prying her jaws open, pulling out her tongue, sticking the pointed pliers into her mouth.  At times she squeals in pain.

Bridget and Spike sit in the aisle watching quietly with big eyes of great concern.


Dear, sweet Macha. She did her best to cooperate.

“We’ve got to get that thing out,” Rachel states, heartache in her voice, as we pause to give Macha a break.

“It would come out eventually on its own,” I respond.  “It would get infected and fester and she’d suffer terribly.”  I don’t know what I’m talking about.  At times such as this, you think the worst and say dumb things.

With renewed determination, we try again. 

Rachel adds extra firmness to her command to Macha.  “Macha, hold still!”

Amazingly, the dog, pinned to the pillows, holds very still with her jaws forced wide open and her tongue extended.  I can’t see the thorn but I feel it with the tip of the pliers, grab it and pull.

“Got it!”

I hold up the pliers.  Rachel and I look at the length of the thorn and are stunned.

Thursday, March 27

The crew and I walk over to Rachel and Macha’s campsite.

“How’s the patient?” I ask.  Macha herself answers my question as she happily scampers over to Spike and tries to engage him in play.




“Okay, Spike, if you insist.  You can show your wounds.”


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146 Responses to Canine calamities

  1. Angie2B says:

    Hello??Anyone there?

  2. Robin says:

    Ouch. So glad the outcome was good 🙂

  3. Lisa W says:

    Oh, no! I feel so sorry for you, Spike, Rachel and Macha. I know from experience how hard it is to pull Cactus spikes from pups. It is just as painful to us as it is for the dogs. I am so glad you were able to get them all out.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rachel said Macha slept soundly, probably she was exhausted from her ordeal. Rachel, of course, worried about her baby through the night.

  4. klbexplores says:

    Such a cutie, little Macha. So good that you were there just at the right moment. Yes Spike, I see your owie. Hoping it’s better too!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t know why that pic of Spike showing his boo-boos makes me laugh. It’s like he has to bring the attention back to himself. Haha!

  5. Diane, Blue Ridge Mts., VA says:

    Oh my gosh! Poor little pups… I am so glad you were able to pull them out Sue. They knew you were trying to come to their aid. Glad you did not panick and knew what to do. I am so happy now. Your neighbor sounds nice and has been through a lot herself.
    There are no coincidences, I beleive you met for a reason. Enjoy the rest of the stay and hope Spike will avoid those needles like crazy. Take Care.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rachel is a nice person, very real, no artifice.

      The crew and I went for a walk after Spike’s incident. He was very careful in choosing a bush on which to lift a leg.

  6. Lacy says:

    OUCH! Oh Sue, I’m so glad you were there and “Johnny on the Spot” for those dogs. It hurt to read about it, much less what you had to endure to get them free of those horrible thorns. And lucky that you were at the BLT and not out on a trail. I hope ALL of you got some good sleep after all that.

    Hugs to those sweet fur babies! And mega Kudos for you 😉

    • Lacy says:

      (forgot): I’m researching Kayaks. Do I remember that you had a blow up that you store in the PTV……or have I lost it (yet again) and am confusing you with someone else?????? If you, can you give me a quick synopsis of what you thought of it?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Kudos also to Rachel!

      Yes, I still have my inflatable, 2-seater “canoe.” I’d like to get rid of it as it’s too long for one person. (Duh! I thought the extra room was needed for the crew.)

      I would not buy a Sevelor. I believe the Seahawk (or similar name, can’t recall) is better because it has a firm bottom that one inserts in the canoe.

      I will not buy another inflatable for the fact that one has to be careful not to be caught in wind blowing away from shore. It’s hard to move an inflatable against wind, even light wind, especially when alone.

      I’d rather have a hard-sided, recreational kayak (sit-on-top) or a Port-a-bote.

      • Lacy says:

        THANKS, that’s exactly what I needed to know 😀

        • Marilu, Northern Ca. says:

          Hi Lacy,
          We have a Sea Eagle which is well made ans handles well with two people but like Sue said, it is too long for one. The inflating, deflating and rolling up is a fair amount of work.

  7. Pleinguy says:

    You’re a savior to the poor creatures. I fear Rachel would not have been able to do what was needed. So fortunate that you were there and had experience. Hope a repeat does not occur. Bless you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t see how anyone could’ve removed those thorns from Macha without help. It took one person to hold her and to pry open her jaws — which Rachel did very well. She had the difficult job!

      Blessings to you, too, Pleinguy.

  8. Brian says:

    OUCH! I winced every time you mentioned Cholla. I sure hope all the canines heal quickly and successfully.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Looks like all is well. The only good thing about cholla (did I just write that?) is the thorns (or needles) are as thin as a thick strand of hair and don’t leave a large puncture for infection.

  9. Connie & Mugsy (MN/AZ) says:

    What a horrible experience for Spike and Macha… I wonder if they will remember to avoid them or if they are unable to tie the plant to the pain.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Before this incident Spike kept away from cholla. . . Bridget avoids it, too. That’s why I’ve been able to take walks with them off-leash and let them wander around. I watch them and they stay away from cholla.

      The chunk of cholla that got Spike is the one in the photo. The previous day and evening was windy. Spike got stuck with the cholla the next morning. I believe that section of cholla had blown out into the campsite area. In other words, the cholla came to his usual walking area, he didn’t go to the cholla.

      • bobg says:

        It’s not Spike’s fault. Sometimes Cholla just THROW themselves at you. One who knows.


  10. SusanS says:

    I’m so glad you were able to tend to the pup’s cholla wounds. Years ago we were returning home from Tucson and having an hour or so before we needed to return the rental car decided to hike the Signal Hill Trail to see the petroglyphs. On our return route a jumping cholla jumped the trail and embedded itself into my husband’s thigh through his Dockers. He thought just pulling his pant leg away from his thigh would dislodge the jumbo Twinkie sized piece. No. Not even various sticks. We ended up having to walk back to the car and use the tire iron. He rolled his pants down away from his body while I used it to lever the cholla away from his body. He was still picking spikes out of his thigh when we got home. Poor puppies!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      How horrible! Anyone who has been stuck with one cholla thorn knows how painful they are. I can’t imagine — and don’t want to! — what your husband endured.

      Thanks for sharing that incident, SusanS. We all need to be careful on the trails.

  11. Karen says:

    Ouch! I winced as I read this. It brought back memories from 15 years ago. We were out on a hike with our two malamutes in Tahoe and our girl Basha yelped as she was off sniffing in the bushes. She had a face and nose full of porcupine quills. We had a long, painful hike back to the car because we didn’t have pliers or tweezers. Met a really nice man near the end of the hike who showed us how to cut the end of the quills which released the pressure and allowed us to pull out the barbed end of the quill. We were so grateful to have met him. We carried the proper tools with us from then on.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m sorry you and Basha had that awful experience. I’m intrigued by this method of cutting off the ends of the quills to make removal easier. You cut off the non-barbed end and that releases pressure? Just the tip? I wonder how that works.

      This is very important information for any dog owner in porcupine country. Thanks, Karen, for telling us about it!

      • Sidewinder Pen says:

        I, too, hope Karen might come back and fill us in. Reading this entry immediately brought back memories of dogs with a face full of porcupine quills. They are nasty due to that barb (not that cholla aren’t – they sound horrible in a slightly different way).

        Thinking about it, maybe the idea was to clip the barb off on the “back” side (if you could reach it, say inside the mouth)? Of course if you could do that the quill would pull right out, so no need to “release pressure” and finish the job later. Hmmm…?

        The bad thing with porcupines (at least with any dogs I ever had) is that the dogs never seemed to “learn” to avoid them. Maybe being alive they are just too tempting to go after – but then when it’s too late… uh-oh!

  12. AZ Jim says:

    I am sorry the little guys had to suffer through that. I have owned two homes in Arizona. In both cases the previous owner used cacti around the yard for “decorations”. I hate having any cactus on my property, so in both homes one of my first acts was having all of the cactus removed. I managed to get stuck several times before their removal. Got some of those tiny needles in a hand and I had a hell of a time getting them out. I hope Spike and Macha have learned to avoid that danger. Bless little Spikey for his quick thinking to get home to mom for help. Keep ’em flyin’ Missy.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Never would’ve thought one needed to be brave to do yard work!

      Rachel keeps Macha tied or on a retractable leash which is smart because Macha is a Jack Russell which are energetic, bouncy dogs.

      Rachel is very protective and careful with Macha. I don’t think she knew about the level of danger present with a cholla (as she didn’t know the name of the plant) and thus the leash was let out too far. Poor Rachel felt terribly guilty (which you shouldn’t, Rachel, if you’re reading this!). Gee, I felt guilty for not warning her. Oh well, these things happen unfortunately and it’s over now.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    How totally awful!! I am so glad you knew what to do and could help your new friend and her dog!! WOW…are you leaving that area soon? Sounds nasty to deal with!!

  14. Willow says:

    OUCH! Poor Spike & Macha what an awful experience, plus watching someone you love suffering like that is painful. I’m glad you had a peaceful afternoon. You never know what’s going to happen, we used to have a big, happy,goofy, black Labrador named Trevor. He was a bundle of mischief and always having issues, like chewing the phone off the wall, we had to remove plastic bits from inside and around his mouth. Oh my the things that dog got up to, he never grew up LOL but we sure loved him.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Trevor the Terrible! It does sound like he was a puppy forever. You loved him in spite of his mischief. I’m glad.

  15. lindale says:

    Sue, you just proved how prepared you are to full time. Many people would panic and you just did what had to be done. Amazing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, I don’t know about amazing. You do what has to be done.

      If you’ve read my old posts maybe you remember the one called “Why I Hate Mechanikin.” I bought a pair of needle-nosed pliers in an effort to remove a pesky fuse. Little did I know how important those pliers would be in the future!

      • DeAnne in TN says:

        Rubber mallet–check. Needle-nose pliers–check. I may even buy an extra pair for the glove box.

  16. DesertGinger says:

    I am so glad to be reading this and will make sure to have pliers on hand when I travel in Tucson area. Not sure I could have handled this with your aplomb, however, especially with a pup squealing in pain. I have a little 8 pound yorkie bichon mix and can’t bear for her to be in pain. So happy you were able to help Spike and little Macha.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What a cute mixture of breeds your dog has! Yes, do get those pliers if you’ll be around cholla.

      I gave away my waist pack recently (to Dale, traveling by bike). If I ever remember to get another one, a pair of pliers will go in it along with water, the crew’s collapsible dish, power bar, etc.

      (BTW, for anyone reading this… the waist pack and collapsible dog dish can be seen by clicking Shopping Links in the header.)

      In the meantime I need to remember to put the pliers in my pocket before we go for walks.

      • DesertGinger says:

        It was supposed to say yorkie and bichon. Thank god for autocorrect. But my dog is not part buffalo.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I knew what you meant. I went back and fixed it.

        • Sidewinder Pen says:

          I know this is three days after the fact (somehow I had missed this post altogether), but the idea of a yorkie/bison mix just made me laugh out loud! (Even though RVSue had fixed it by now.) Hee, can you imagine?

          And while I’m at it, wow, good thing Rachel and Macha were right nearby. As you said, I can’t imagine one person getting those quills out alone, and it’s extra hard when it is your own dog (I mean, because as bad as it is to see any dog in pain, it’s even worse when it’s your own).

          • RachelDLS says:

            You are so right. When it is your own beloved doggie suffering and you are adding to the pain. Even though you know you have to, it is so very hard. I was heartsick. So Very glad that Sue was right there. She was so great!

  17. Glenda from Glendale says:

    Same thing happened to our Jack Russell named Chelsea. Sounds like you kept your cool and didn’t panic. The pups will be sore but fine in no time. Glad to hear they are doing better.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Sorry about poor Chelsea. . . and it’s no fun for the people around either!

      Reminds me of a childhood incident… My mother and I were sitting on a blanket on a lakeside beach. A woman on a blanket nearby started screaming, “Oh, Jimmy! Oh, Jimmy!” while looking to the water.

      My mother saw immediately that a boy was up to his chin in the water and falling backward. He was flailing his arms and going under. Unlike the mother who sat on her blanket screaming, my mother, who was dressed in street clothes, ran into the water and retrieved the boy.

      I didn’t understand panic at the time, being only a child. I vowed I would never be ineffectual like that woman screaming. I remember her red nail polish and silly sunhat to this day! Haha!

  18. Marie taylor says:

    Wow. That was exciting! I’m glad all is well in the end. There’s no way any of my dogs would sit still like spike did. What a brave boy.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Spike is a bundle of contradictions. He acts like he couldn’t care less if I exist, but if he can’t handle a situation, he comes running!

  19. Pauline from Mississippi says:

    Oh dear me…what a day you had!!! So glad you were there for Spike and Macha! It hurts to see our pups in pain.
    I admire your new friend Rachel. She sounds like a fighter.
    Love and hugs to you and the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline… Love and hugs to you, too.

      Rachel is a strong and caring woman, a Christian who lives by faith, dealing with her many difficulties without resentment. You would like her.

  20. weather says:

    OMG What a moving story.I’m so sorry for all involved,and so glad about the outcome.During each episode you must have been in so much turmoil while having to resolutely act calmly in order to accomplish the actions needed .How difficult that all must have been.Your beautiful environment being fraught with potential danger ,reminiscent of this worlds threats to Rachel’s health,what a picture.Adversities encountered cannot be avoided apparently,no matter what effort we make to choose the best ways and places to live.A happy ending resulting in sweet connections and trust reenforced is ,one more time,proof that in the final analysis what’s beautiful is worth pursuing.Thank you for doing all the right things to achieve good for the lives and well being of so many,may you be deeply content with the fruit of your labors,with affection,an appreciatively smiling reader

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right. . . Every life involves challenges, no matter what the choice of lifestyle. How bland and boring life would be if our environment didn’t hold some danger. It’d be like living in a rubber room with pictures!

      Keep smiling . . .

  21. Diann in MT says:

    Well done, Sue! Glad Spike and Macha made it through the trauma, and you were steady as a rock. God bless ya!
    Hint: It’s becoming warmer up north (where the cholla don’t bite). :>)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rachel was “steady as a rock” even though her heart was breaking for little Macha.

      Yeah, it’s getting warmer in the north but you know about those spring snowstorms!

      • Diann in MT says:

        Yep. You are right. Forecast for heavy mountain snows. It’s comin’ your way, Folks in the East! ‘Bout time for a break!

  22. GypsyPurl says:

    Poor Spikey and Macha, I hope they are feeling better. Thankfully an Angel of mercy was there. It amazes me when people are always in the right place at the right time. Stay safe. And Spikey BE CAREFUL!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I guess I wrote this post making me sound like a super-hero or something. Both Rachel and I did what needed to be done. Thanks for your message to the Spikester.

  23. Ohhhh, the pups were valiant and brave and you, Sue, were the heroine of the day! You’ve prompted me to put ‘cactus removal tools’ on my put-in-trailer list! Love the photos of the pups getting to know each other…

  24. What a painful post! It was so hard to read about the dogs, especially Macha with a mouthful of thorns. Great doctoring, Sue! Glad you were there to help.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yes, it’s a painful post. I thought while I was writing it, “Gee, read my blog and go through a miserable experience.” Haha!

  25. JodeeinSoCal says:

    I’m sure Spike was pointing out to Bridget that HE came to Sue instead of trying to use HIS mouth to remove the cactus like Macha did, because he is a seasoned desert veteran! Poor Macha, that’s a painful lesson to learn but I bet she gives cholla wide berth in the future. Although I’ve had it jump onto the top of my pant leg while I was on an ATV so sometimes it can’t be avoided :-(.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jodee,

      I don’t know how Spike knew not to try and pull out the cholla by himself. Whenever Bridget or Spike get something in their paw they always stop walking and wait with the paw lifted.

  26. Zil says:

    Glad you were there to help the dogs.
    For your info;

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the link, Zil.

      I read that before writing the post. I chose a different link because WHO’s report emphasizes “no scientific evidence” which is misleading to the casual reader who may jump to the conclusion that the condition is “all in the head.” (propaganda perhaps?) Electromagnetic sensitivity is a real and debilitating condition that severely alters a person’s life.

  27. Geri Moore says:

    YaY !!! RVSue to the rescue! Years ago I was down at Havasupi Falls in the western end of the Grand Canyon. (I had won a free helicopter ride!) As I was taking a photo of the falls (beautiful by the way!) I backed up into a cholla. YIKES! I got most of them out there but it was a painful ride back in the helicopter sitting on the remaining thorns still embedded in my butt!
    Rachael sounds like a nice lady and Macha is a beautiful dog! Glad you were all together when this happened! Misery loves company and you were a great “nurse” !!!

    • bobg says:

      It wasn’t a cholla, but I had a similar conversation with a little bud cactus once. I was taking an Outward Bound course on rock climbing out of Prescott Arizona. I had just made it up a 40 foot section of cliff to a narrow ledge, and gratefully mantled up to plant my bottom on the ledge, to rest and wait on the next guy. I didn’t notice the cactus and sat right down on it. It was a tiny thing, growing in a crack.

      I managed not to propel myself off the cliff. I didn’t even scream so you could hear, though had there been dogs around I’m sure they would have all been barking. There was no place to sit other than on the cactus. I tried to move over, but that just gave it a fresh place to poke.

      I know how Spike feels. I will always be grateful to the guy with the pliers who somewhat later had the unenviable task of pulling every one of those tiny barbs out of my butt. And I learned to keep an eye out.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I never would’ve thought Geri’s story could be topped. You got the butt barbs on a ledge 40 feet up!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What a story, Geri! You had to ride a helicopter across the Grand Canyon in order to receive a bunch of thorns in the butt. Too funny! Hahaha! Sorry, I can’t help laughing. I’m sure it was a long ride home. 🙂

  28. Betty-shea says:

    Oh Jeeze! I felt every thorn too.ouch! !!
    Doesn’t describe it….My pups got into those too….once was enough…they steer clear now…hard lessons seem to stay in thier memory! !!
    Hugs to you all!

  29. Rita says:

    My sister had a stray dog wander into her yard full of porcupine needles all over the dogs face and body. Fortunately the dog was friendly and let my sister take her to a vet where they sedated the dog and removed all the needles, vaccinated the dog. After the dog recovered she left and never came back. Anyway, stray away from jumping cholla…they are the worst. Also, watch out for snakes at night especially sidewinders and other heating sensing snakes. They will crawl under steps, inside tire wells, and other areas. We always have to carry a stick and poke and beat on things before reaching in with gloved hands…brown recluse is another critter to be careful of. Some grasses especially foxtail will work their way into dog ears, mouth, etc., I had to take my German Sheppard in for surgery cuz a foxtail grass worked it’s way down the dog’s ear channel.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rita,

      I’m going to look up foxtail on google images so I know what it looks like. I appreciate the words of caution re: night critters and all.

    • Cinandjules says:

      Fox tails will also get in between their toes….it will bore it’s way thru the skin and get infected….fox tails are bad news!

      • Cinandjules says:

        Search tail weed

        It will show you the little buggers.

      • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

        Our border collie lost two toes to a fox tail (a type of grass). It worked its way into the fur between his toes. After 3 time per week visits for several weeks to the vet to clean the wound, the vet had to remove the toes. Freckles was less than 2 years old. We finally lost him in 2011 at the ripe old age of 16. Still miss him. He loved to herd our cats, trying to keep the coming in the house when we got home from work.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          What an ordeal! I guess that was an expensive wound to treat, but worth it . . . another 14 years of Freckles. 🙂

          I read that California has a lot of fox tail grass.

          • Cinandjules says:

            Prevalent in CA….especially when it gets dry.

            We used to call it “fox tail patrol” checking in between their toes every day!

          • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

            I love my vet. $5 per 5 minute visit to clean the wound and re bandage. Just the materials would have cost close to that. Freckles HATED the cone more than the work on his foot. Anyone traveling through Jamestown CA – Sue at Jamestown Vet Clinic is wonderful! (great name for an animal lover)

  30. Ramona says:

    What a relief that everyone is ok! That was a gripping blog post. You certainly know how to tell a story Sue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ramona… I like that description — “a gripping blog post.” Glad it gripped you!

  31. Cinandjules says:

    Ouch! Poor Spike and then picture of his war wounds. 🙁

    Macha is absolutely adorable…love the patch on her eye. Glad she was cooperative while you extracted the spikes.

    Handy dandy tool those needle nose pliers!

    A previous dog of mine got fox tails in a “pocket” behind his tongue. He gagged gagged and gagged. I couldn’t get them out! So a trip to the vets was made.

    Your blog is so informative…with larger breeds that have longer snouts a fish hook remover or hemostat might be in order. Good to know! I use needle nose pliers on the small fish up here.

    Hope all the wounds have healed. I’m sure Rachel and Macha appreciate your surgical like skills!

    Have a marvelous day!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Isn’t that Macha a doll? I don’t usually feature three head shots of someone else’s dog. She’s very photogenic.

      Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

  32. RachelDLS says:

    My Dear Sue!

    I was so grateful to see you come running with pliers in hand! My poor Macha was trying everything to get them out herself and it was making it so much worse. I still can’t believe how quickly it all happened. She was next to a regular old bush not a nasty cactus when she yelped and came out with that huge ball of needles hanging off her chin. It must have been blown there by the wind we had the day before. Unreal!

    I have no idea how long we worked on her. I just remember having to move from each spot 4 or 5 times. You had pulled so many out that there were too many were on the ground and she was in danger of getting them stuck back in her again. I was heartsick and will always be grateful you were there. The outcome would have been even more horrific if Macha and I were alone when that happened.

    You were a blessing to both of us! I hope we meet again someday! Oh Yes, I almost forgot, I am going to go check out the books you gave me and see which one I will read tonight!

    Thanks again! For everything!

  33. Wickedlady of WA says:

    Scenario: Instead of an intestinal upset, what if you had a stroke and were incapacitated? Perhaps while out walking with the pups. No one would check on you because of your “No drop-ins” and not wanting to invade your privacy. What would happen to your pups?

    • Mary (MN) says:

      Hi Wickedlady, It is nice you are concerned, but I think it is important to not live our lives in fear of ‘what if’. I live in a ‘stick and brick’ house and also have a strick ‘no drop in’ policy. I could have a stroke too, who would feed my critters? These are risks we face no matter where or how we live. Sorry Sue, please forgive me but I react to the living in fear concept. 🙂

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        No need to apologize, Mary. You make a valid point. I lived in a stick-and-bricks house by myself for 15 years or so. It was out in the country. If I had a stroke or other calamity, I couldn’t rely on someone dropping in.

        That’s why, everyone, it’s important to be as self-reliant as possible and, as Mary says, don’t live in fear of the “what ifs.”

        • DesertGinger says:

          I have a group of friends. Every day at 3pm one sends a message to all of us and we all reply. Brief. Done. No chatting. But if someone doesn’t respond…lookout! Where are they? Will someone call? Can anyone go by her house? Do we have numbers for her friends….etc.

          At least we know that no more than 24 hours would elapse without help.

          I know that you do not always have connection to the outside world, but if you did, and if you were worried at all (or anyone who worries about this) might want to setup a similar system through text or email, or even phone calls.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, WickedLady….The worst thing that could possibly happen is I die and my crew dies with me. The best thing that could happen is we live happily and fully for many, many years. Thank you for your concern.

  34. Linda says:

    I couldn’t have felt worse if it were my own dog. Spike, so brave. You be careful out there, Spike. Best wishes to Macha in her recovery. XXX OOO.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Dontcha love bloggers who make you feel their pain? Haha! Sorry about that! I’ll extend your words of caution to Spike. . .

  35. Deb from NJ says:

    Sue to the Rescue! Oh My! What a terrible experience for everyone. So glad that you were there with your trusty pliers. There are a lot of folding pliers available. If you go to Amazon ….type in folding pliers and go under sports and outdoors …..they have a bunch at all different prices. Some even have a little scissors on them.

    Poor Spikey and Macha! I can only imagine the whole scene. Hugs to them both and hoping they are feeling much better by now.

    Hope you all had a great day today!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Deb. Now I have a reason to order from Amazon!

      Yes, we had a great day. Hope you did, too! We’re at a new camp. 🙂

  36. Patricia from Florida says:

    I know that was a horrendous experience. My black lab came home one day with porcupine quills in mouth, face, and nose. My friend and I were able to pull out a few but eventually realized it would have been too much pain for my dog to go thru. Off to the vet we went. Sedation, removal, and overnight stay. I am very interested in the fellow who stated that u can cut off the end of the porcupine quill and it relieves pressure, thereby allowing removal of quill?? Please see what you can find out.
    Take care, love your blog!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I searched for information on removing quills, specifically cutting the quills first. I read that step mentioned but no reason was given.

      The only thing I can think of is this… The longer the quills, the greater the leverage, so that accidentally bumping the end of an adjacent, long quill while extracting another may cause the embedded tip to move further, thus causing more pain for the animal. I don’t know . . . .

  37. DeAnne in TN says:

    I was at my apartment’s laundromat today and met the nicest young family. We got to chatting about my retirement, and oh so sweetly they said I didn’t look 53 (I just had a birthday.) But the best thing was that I realized that by turning a year older, now I am only 7 years from my retirement! Woo hoo!

  38. Allen says:

    Sue, I recently read a quote that said when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This incident and your response has been an important lesson for me. we will be traveling with two pups similar in size to Bridgette & Spike. I hope we never share this trauma but now we will be prepared if we do. I will be carrying my Leatherman on hikes in the desert. Macha is a cutie! Rachel is fortunate that Macha chose her.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rachel and Macha are fortunate to have each other. They are inseparable.

      I hadn’t ever heard of a . . .

      Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

      I looked it up on Amazon. Seems very handy.

      • Cinandjules says:

        Leatherman multi tools were standard issue…and came in handy. I still have mine…it’s in my emergency preparedness bag!

        If there is one tool you had to pick from all of them …that would be the one!

  39. Jane Onken says:

    Poor babies! What a painful experience for them–you and Rachel, too. So glad you were able to get the thorns out. Way to go, Sue.
    Illinois Jane

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jane,

      The crew and I moved to a new camp today. I stopped at Rachel’s camp to say goodbye. Macha was very sweet. She came over to greet me, apparently no hard feelings for the pain she suffered.

  40. RachelDLS says:

    My dear Sue

    I got your “Note” not long after you left. I simply did not know how to respond. I am overwhelmed and touched. Your words touched my heart and made me cry. Though how you knew that particular thing was something I already practiced in my life is a mystery, you can be sure I will continue to live that way. I pray my dear Lord will bless you in extraordinary ways for your kindness and your help.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rachel,

      You sweetie… You have a tender heart. Thank you for your prayer — He has already blessed me in many ways and continues to do so every day.

      I expect we’ll see each other again. You take care of yourself!

  41. BadKat says:

    Have been reading your blog for a long time. Started full-timing a year ago. We are off Vulture Mine Road and will stay in this area at least another week. Since you have been on Vulture Mine that a road a pickup an a 28′ Airstream can drive down and find a campsite? We will go looking tomorrow with the pickup only. Safe travels!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, BadKat,

      Thank you for being a longtime reader of my blog.

      I did not drive down Vulture Mine Road which goes to the trailhead and toilet.

      We camped on the next road a short distance past Vulture Mine Road (as you go away from Wickenburg). It’s a lefthand turn also and takes you along the other side of the wash that Vulture Mine Road follows.

      There is a double campsite past where we camped that should suit you well. It looked very level with easy turn around space. Plenty of cholla though. The road forks into two short spurs where a few more campsites exist, some best for tents or truck campers, one might be good for your Airstream. Go exploring with your pick-up!

  42. Eileen P. says:

    One of my dogs is a runner (I adopted him as a stray from the shelter), so we need to use a leash even in fairly remote areas. I agree that it’s the scattered fragments that can get into a pup’s paw or snout. I’ve had instances where I’ve been steering the dogs quite succesfully away from the full plants, only to look down and one has the telltale “paw off the ground” from just a tiny fragment. Plus those cholla are doubly dangerous to newcomers to our desert because they LOOK so innocuous…almost fluffy from a distance. I hike with small tweezers– I put the sharp end into a wine cork 🙂 and just drop it into my pocket.

    Glad the story had a good outcome.

    Eileen in Phoenix

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Eileen,

      Good for you (and for the dog) that you kept your commitment!

      While fostering dogs for a rescue organization a “runner” was placed in my care. That dog was an escape artist and then he would run at top speed, not looking where he was going, just run, run, run. He got out once and I had to chase him in my car to catch him.

      The vet said dogs can become runners after living in a cage for a long time. Dogs with that condition require a lot of surveillance and precautions.

    • AZ Jim says:

      Eileen, one question, how was the wine???

  43. Ed says:

    The needle nose pliers are obviously better than nothing but a long toothed comb is the best way to remove cholla. Do a Google search on “remove cholla with comb” to see pictures of the comb that is recommended (but again any comb is better than none).
    To get very short fine/thin cactus spines out the simplest way is to wrap the area with a layer of gauze and then coat with white glue (Elmers). Let it dry and peal the gauze off. The next best way would be to wrap the are in Duct Tape and then peal that off but you loose more hair with this method.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ed,

      Good tips… A comb would’ve been helpful with Macha. The thorns inside her mouth (at the back) and through her tongue required pliers, of course. We considered duct tape for the tongue, but only momentarily. The thorn/needle/spine was deeply embedded.

  44. Barbara Holland says:

    Sue, I e-mailed George 3/21/14. I heard from him today. On 3/15/14 he had open heart surgery. He said he is doing good. I had told him that I remembered him with much fondness. I do wish him much good health. Barbara in Florida

  45. Lacy says:

    OUCH OUCH OUCH!!! I just Googled the Cholla and looked at microscopic photos – those barbs are WICKED!

    Spike and Macha deserve extra treats – and you and Rachel too! And don’t forget Bridge – she endured it all too 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Boy, that is a close-up! No wonder they are very painful. Thanks for the link, Lacy.

  46. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    I would carry a pair of regular needle nose pliers, a small jewlers pair of needle nose pliers and a small jewlers pair of wire cutters. I had an old cowboy recently tell me that if your dog gets Cholla in his mouth just leave it. The dogs saliva will dissolve it in time and the dog will be fine. But I don’t know for sure, its just what I heard. The Swiss Army Knife with some of the tools you will need might be a way to go. McGiver never left home with out his 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joe,

      No way were Rachel and I going to leave those damn things in Macha’s mouth. Macha was suffering and crying, and neither of us is an “old cowboy” willing to wait for the cholla to dissolve! 🙂

      I’ve decided to switch over to my larger camera case which will hold my pliers. It’s rare that I don’t take my camera on walks. This way I don’t have to remember to take the pliers . . . and also a comb.

  47. Barb George says:

    OMGosh! Ohhhh…. what trust they have in you (and well deserved!). Spike sure lived up to his name!

    Glad that is over!
    Hugs from Hoquiam!

  48. DeAnne in TN says:

    From DeAnne, the motivational blogarina!

    “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” –C. S. Lewis

  49. Lacy says:

    Couldn’t sleep last night. What’s a girl to do? Get up outta bed and go read RVSue, from THE BEGINNING! Can’t tell ya how much I’m enjoying it, again. We’re in the early days and the excitement is contagious 🙂

  50. Penny (from Utah now in Baja) says:

    Hi Sue,

    I am on my way home from Baja. We are camped on the border of North and South Baja.

    KGDan (I think that’s her handle) says to say hi. We met on your blog. She also has a Casita and wanted to go to Baja. I gave her some info. She and her husband pulled into Santa Spec Playa (about 2/3 of the way down the peninsula, south of Mulege on the Bahia Concepcion) The 4 of us had a fun visit.
    You met her in Oct I think. Her husband gave you a mat he crocheted out of plastic bags.
    She said to tell you they got down there safely.

    Hope all the dogs are recovering.
    Baja has plenty of all kinds of sharp things.
    Our cat kept getting stickers in her fur and bringing them into the trailer. Then they would get into my nightgown. Ouch.
    Our sad news is we no longer have her. She was 18. We buried her under a palo verde tree last month.
    Life isn’t quite the same without a 4-footed furry friend.

    Hasta Luego


    • weather says:

      Dear Penny,eighteen years spent together and love shared forever,my heart and prayers go out to you about your sad news,vaya con dios

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, Penny, for your thoughtfulness in reporting on Kathy and Gil’s safe arrival. It’s neat that you met on my blog and now you’ve met in person. They’re great people.

      I’m sorry you no longer have your longtime companion. It’s a tough adjustment, like losing a family member. Have a safe trip home.

  51. Nan says:

    I am really glad you were there to help. So far, (knock on wood), Oliver and Olivia have missed the dreaded cacti!

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