Creature in the night
My time at The Dickinson Press has just passed a year in mid-July and I've had many different experiences in that time, but not quite like the experience I had last Thursday night.
I've always been a night owl and being a sports and outdoors reporter is exactly the job to use my goofy sleeping schedule to my advantage.
After working late Thursday night putting together the final touches on the football preview with my sports editor, Dustin Monke, I stayed later reading through the preview three or four times and didn't arrive home until 1:30 a.m.
I knew when I pulled up to my house I was going to have to take my dog out for a walk. I've taken Coco, my almost three-year-old Shiba Inu, out for walks late at night all the time.
We've come across many different typical animals on our late night walks -- cats, dogs and the white rabbit Coco always thinks she's going to catch. This night, however, was different and as we set foot on our regular route, we encountered a porcupine near Kostelecky Park.
"I haven't got any calls on porcupines, badgers or snakes," Dickinson Animal Control Officer Vern Nelson said. "Most of the time porcupines and other animals just travel through here during the spring and fall. This year there must be plenty going on out there and further out. I thought for sure I'd have them in town here, because of them being kicked out of their homes. Nothing so far, I haven't had a call."
The porcupine startled me at first, because when it was slowly walking over to us. I thought it was a skunk. The first thought that passed through my mind was, "Great, we are going to get sprayed and I'm going to stink for a couple of days."
As the porcupine got closer, I could see the quills covering its body. I got a little excited because it was the first time I've seen a porcupine in the middle of town. On the same note, Coco was curious and started pulling on the leash to investigate the situation.
I grabbed Coco and held her while we attempted to take a photo of the porcupine. We were so interested in the new friend that we met on the walk; the porcupine could have cared less that we were there.
The porcupine walked along the side of a house like it was looking for somewhere safe to stay. Nelson said it's been unusual not getting different animal complaints, but he has had remove bats from a couple places.
"The only thing I've had so far is bats," Nelson said. "I've probably got two calls about bats on people's doorsteps."
I attempted to take a photo of the porcupine with my phone, but I didn't want to get to closer and spend the night at the hospital getting quills taken out of my leg. The photo that I took and posted on Twitter looked like the typical Sasquatch photo where it could be real but there's a slightly possibility that it might not be real.
Let me tell you this porcupine was real.
The porcupine slowly made its way between two houses traveling north to 21st Street West. After coming across the unsuspecting porcupine, my hand was shaking and my heart was racing with excitement.
While finishing up our walk, I thought, "Will I ever see another porcupine roaming around town again?" Maybe, but if not, I'll almost have the memory of my first encounter with this prickly creature of the night.
McGregor is the outdoors
reporter for The Dickinson Press.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org