Guest Blog: Porcupines on a Plane

As a veterinarian, I like to share my crazy animal stories. This one does not involve me directly, but my husband Max, and our friends, Drs. J and V, fellow veterinarians. J. owns a single engine 6 seater Cessna, and we enjoyed many fun flights together a few years ago, when we lived in Nevada. J and his wife V are not your average veterinarians. They spend their free time running a non-profit educational zoo, where they emphasize hands-on experience for the visitors. They started by getting a few kangaroos years ago, and now take care of about 160 animals! One may wonder how they managed to get all these exotic animals to Nevada. Well, this story is an example of how far one has to go to get a new pet... J offers us to join him on his next flight to go get new "residents" for the zoo. Two porcupines are waiting in South Dakota, about 1000 miles away. How exciting! After a week of bad weather, take off is finally scheduled for Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I cannot go since I have to work that day. On the big day, my husband wakes me up at 1am to kiss me good-bye. Thanks. I have to be at work very early and I cannot fall back asleep, I am too excited for them! All morning I keep checking the weather for their route, between a dog vaccination and a cat spay. Finally, I get a voicemail “We just landed. We have the Joey, we are waiting for the porcupines”. In a different context this could be a code for a secret trade, but in the veterinarian world it just means that they are ready to exchange animals. J's friends who have the porcupines also raise “Roos”. During the flight there, J had warned Max that they might have to go and catch the porcupines themselves. I can only imagine my husband’s face, thinking, “I didn’t sign up for that”. But a good cross-country flight is worth a porcupine hunt. Thankfully, when J's friends arrive with the precious cargo, the pets are in cages, and there is no need to chase them! Everything is going to be fine after all. They will be back in the air soon, and back in Nevada in about 5 hours. Perfect. Until they look at the metal cages a little closer. The porcupines are in two large carriers. More importantly, there are several layers of zip-ties and wires securing the carriers… “Oh, yeah, they are kind of aggressive right now, and I don’t want you guys to crash because of these little fellows", says J's friend. “Great, I didn’t sign up for that either", thinks Max. Pilots and pets all made it back safely to Nevada, but it was a trip worth remembering! Medelita Guest Blogger: Julie Pearson, DVM. Julie is currently working on the East Coast as a small animal veterinarian. She was born and raised in France, where she got her degree before getting licensed in the USA. She enjoys being a general practitioner, and feels privileged to be there for her patients, whether it is for a wellness visit or a serious medical issue. Julie has been wearing Medelita since August 2010, and is seen here wearing her scrubs.