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Hedgehog tale

by Jeanette Greaves, Preston, Lancashire, England


It was a warm spring evening in Preston, and Ade and I had been living in our new house for several months. We'd already got to know some of the neighbours, and were, inevitably, already known as the Cat People.

I was sitting in the living room, watching the evening news, and waiting for Ade to come home from work, when I heard someone frantically knocking on the door. It was my neighbour, Izzi, holding a small brown cardboard box under her arm. She was quite distressed, and explained that she'd caught some children 'bothering' a small hedgehog, which had been impaled on a stick. I was the only person in the neighbourhood that she could think of with a telephone and a car who would be willing to take a hoggie to the vets.

Sneaking a peek at the hoggie, I saw an eight inch long, very slim bit of wood sticking out of the spiny little creature. It looked awful, and I started to ring around, to find a vet that would stay open until I could get there. The local 'large animal' vet was still in his surgery, and agreed to wait for me. I popped Hoggie in his box, and put him in the passenger side footwell, hoping that he would not injure himself any further.

A few short minutes into the journey, Hoggie broke free of the box, and started to explore the car. Not to be outdone, his guest fleas decided to join in the adventure, and soon started to land on my bare arms. I tried not to be too distracted, and made a mental note to buy some insecticide from the vet. Hoggie thoroughly explored the passenger side footwell, then decided to try climbing over the gear stick to see how the foot pedals worked.

I stopped the car, removed Hoggie from underneath the brake pedal, put him back in the box, and put him on the back seat, giving the fleas a whole new world of experience. As I watched Hoggie climb out of the box, and jump down to the floor, I began to suspect the severity of his injuries. He seemed to be having a great time. Luckily, I soon arrived at the vet, and was admitted straightaway.

Hoggie was given some sedatives, and the concerned vet searched through the spines for the injury site. The stick seemed to go straight into the skin, but no amount of tugging by the vet would release it. Muttering something about 'muscular contractions', he administed more tranquillizer, and tugged again. Suddenly, and visibly, the light dawned, and he picked up a scalpel, and began to slit vertically ALONG the stick, which he peeled away to reveal a rather bedraggled spine, somewhat inflamed at the follicle. Hoggie hadn't been impaled at all, he'd just got a grass stalk stuck on a spine, and it had worked its way down to his skin. The vet decided to give Hoggie an antibiotic shot, some flea treatment, and some vitamins for luck, and told us that we could both go home. I offered to pay, but was waved away "No, I'll dine out on this one a dozen times." he told me.

I prevailed upon him to tape up the box before I went home, and the journey home was uneventful. Hoggie was released into my back garden, and spent several happy years as my Slug Control Assistant before finally passing away.


Editor's note:

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