The Desert Has Dangers

“It stopped raining Jagger” as I opened the Coach’s curtains. Right after the morning coffee, John, Jagger and I went outside for a morning walk. Just a short one, the weather is still sketchy, and the cool moisture lingers in the air. It’s a beautiful day though, especially after all the rain we’ve had here in the desert.

Cactus Attack

No sooner than I step down from the Coach and I turn to see Jagger, who had run ahead approaching a Teddy Bear Cholla or Jumping Cholla cactus. I yell out; “STOPPP!”

[alert-note]Teddy Bear Cholla is known for “jumping” several feet from the main tree and stick on whatever is passing too close. The spines have barbs on end that act as a hook, making it very painful to remove. If your walking in the desert these beautiful looking plants should be avoided. Watch the ground when they are close by, as the little balls blow around very easily. Typically dogs step on them and then attempt to pull them out with their mouth, spreading the barbs.[/alert-note]


Cholla plant at the end of the rainbow 😦

Just as my command to STOP reaches his ears, he looks up with a mouthful of prickly Cholla balls that had been laying on the ground near the plant. “NOOOO!” Too late. He turns and appears to struggle with a mouthful of spines. I felt so sad and helpless when at a distance I saw him in pain. I screamed at him to get away, and he turned with a mouthful of cactus. I start to panic, but my planning kicks in immediately. I knew time was of the essence. I needed to perform surgery on Jagger quickly before he struggles and gets those nasty spines all over himself and me.

IMG_20190202_171842-310898859-1550155847598.jpgInstead of running toward Jagger, I run to the Workhorse and grab my work gloves. I’m thankful it was parked close by, and we weren’t walking in the desert somewhere. Then I pull out my Workman tool and convert it to pliers. You’re getting the idea.

 I found Jagger already back at the safety of his Coach. By the time I reached him he was bleeding a little, both on his paws and mouth. He was able to get the ball of spines out of his mouth and on to his paws while I was getting my gloves. Then grabbing my Workman tool, I went to work removing the remaining thorns one at a time.

It was excruciating for Jagger and me, but he patiently laid there knowing I was helping him. Jagger surprised me as he didn’t let out a yelp or whimper while I worked on him as white fur was slightly turning pink. At this point, the grim look on my face turning sad, but I finally finished. Telling him, “I think I got them all buddy,” and he scampered into the Coach.

Watching him closely over the next few hours, he worked licking his paw occasionally even though I couldn’t find any more spines. The remainder of the day we laid around and visited with John, our only neighbor out here in the beautiful, but dangerous (at times) desert.

Good Morning Jagger

20170524_160632The next day Jagger seemed better, and while still attending to his paws occasionally, he appeared pretty normal. I think we avoided having to go to a Veterinary Hospital. I know it could have been much worse. I’m sure Jagger will be avoiding Cholla plants, and I’ve learned we can get through even disasters like this one.

Note To Self

When I am back at home and Jagger sees his regular doctor at Companion Pet Clinic, I going to ask for a medicating ointment or spray to have on hand in case there is another unseen emergency in our future.

Safe Travels…Gary and Jagger

Please, Safe Travels Jagger…Gary


  • Dates: February 1st-5th, 2019
  • In The Saddle: 0 Miles, 0 minutes
  • Camp: Queen Valley, AZ (Desert Boondock)

6 replies

  1. Hi Gary and Jagger. I always love reading about your adventures. Although, your latest adventure was a reminder of when Feather Blu had her run in with a Cholla. Even though we did the same for Feather as you did Jagger, pulling out the spines with pliers, there were still tiny spines in her throat, gums and imbedded in her tongue. We rushed her to Emergency VetMed on 101 and Carefree. When we arrived they rushed to help her immediately. Feather was rushed into surgery. They were able to remove all the tiny spines that were in everyone in her mouth. What an ordeal for Feather Blu and us. Feather will not go near a Cholla and of course I make sure we don’t go near them. And always look out for the little balls of Cholla that seem to jump out at you. Feather and I are glad that Jagger is fine and he did not have to go to the vet.


    • Thanks Jeannie, wow I’m glad Jagger didn’t get into it as bad as Feather Blu. I had heard horror stories and was prepared somewhat (at least mentally). You know the feeling when you see it happening and there’s not much you can do. I was afraid we’d be making that trip to the vet for sure and checked as good as I could in his mouth and his paws, but someone was watching out for us for sure. I was able to get it all the first pass, carefully picking each one as I went.


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