So we continued down the road walking behind the Hound Herders until we came within view of the trail marker. And a couple of mountain bikers. A couple of mountain bikers that were riding towards us, and trying to not catch the noses of the dogs in the spokes of their wheels as the dogs ran alongside and continually bumped into them. When we got a little closer, the bikers asked the "dog people" if they knew anything about getting porcupine quills out of a dog. Uh-oh. At the beginning of the trail, we came across the dog the bikers were referring to, what looked like a husky (or malamute) / shepherd mix of some kind with the entire right side of his face filled with quills. Most buried really deeply. The rest of this, I can best describe in a narrative format:
Biker: "Anyone have a cell phone? That poor dog has a name tag on the collar. Maybe we could call the owner."
Hound Herder 1: "Uh, it's in the car."
Biker: Well does anyone have a leash [a remarkably astute query ... clearly if they had one they weren't using it, maybe he could borrow it]?
HH 1: "Yeah, we're not using it right now." [or ever....]
Me: "I have a cell phone in my pack, I'll call."
At this point, I looked at the dog and petted him. He was behaving remarkably well for an animal among strangers with a snout full of quills.
[Dialed number on collar]
Voice on other end: "Hello..."
Me: Hi there, do you own a dog?
Voice: Oh no. Where, wha', where, [a remarkable Vinnie Barbarino impression] where is he?
Me: We're at the beginning of the hiking trails down in Pawtuckaway State Park. He appears to have a snout full of porcupine quills.
Voice: Well just let him go, he'll come on home.
[Great, pinhead #2 of the day]
Me: Um, Ma'am, he has a bunch of quills in his nose, and he's going to probably need to go to the vet.
Voice: Well, [telephone ringing in background ... the electronic kind like on your office telephone] oh, um, oh, I can't go out ... I don't drive.
Me: Oh-kaaaaaay. [And that's my problem how?]
Voice: Um, can you bring ... no, I'll have to have someone ... who drives ... get him [there you go pinhead, baby steps. You'll eventually know what it feels like to have a complete coherent thought].
Me: Yes, someone needs to come and get him now.
Voice: Well, I ... um ... oh ... [more ringing, sounds to me like multiple lines on a business phone]. I'll send someone. Where are you again.
Me: Pawtuckaway State Park. Down by the hiking trails. Come in the main entrance, past the guard booth, and maybe 1/2 a mile in. [Dramatic pause before I drop the bomb] But... the gate is locked, so you'll have to walk in [bulls-eye!].
Voice: What .. oh. Can you bring him to. Where are you? Can you meet . Can you tie him to something until I can find someone to get there?
Me: [Great. Maybe a piece of rope around his neck so he can wind himself around a tree an choke to death ... brilliant idea you worthless trailer livin' piece of trash]. No, someone needs to come now. This dog needs to go to a vet.
Voice: Can you bring him to the parking lot.
Me: [Great ...] Sure, we'll meet you in the parking lot.
[Walking back towards the group, and I pick up the end of their conversation]
HH 1: Maybe we should call the State Police.
My Girlfriend: Yeah, they'll love to meet your dogs where they aren't allowed on state property. [God I LOVE her]
HH 1: Oooh. Maybe we'll make ourselves scarce about that time.
In the end, one of the bikers volunteered to take the dog back to the parking lot and wait. He borrowed the leash that the other pinheads weren't using. Along the way to the top of the hill and back, the dogs scared two kids fishing with their dad on the bank of the pond (probably spooked the fish, too), chased a couple of squirrels, pissed on the top of the peak, and annoyed a bunch of people.
I have no idea what happened to the other dog, neither he nor the bikers were around when we returned to the car. Shame, I wish now that I had taken the dog back to see what kind of idiot picked him up. If they ever came at all.