Friday, October 24, 2008

Close Encounters Of The Black And White Kind

For the last few weeks the dog has been hanging out in the back corner of the yard. Sometimes he moves back and forth along the fence sniffing and snuffling something ferociously. He takes in copious amounts of air through his sensitive bulbous nose making a snort that I can actually hear across the yard. Sometimes he simply sits and stares. Sometimes he would get excited and act like he was after something. It had come to the point that he would do nothing else outside but hang out there. His obsession mystified me. I decided that maybe I should check the area out and see if I could figure out what was causing my dog to act so strange. I went and stood by the dog as he sat and stared at the fence. Duh! I don't know why I did not do this sooner.

Lo and behold, I could hear a rustling sound. There was a critter behind the fence. The rustling seemed to be coming from under the neighbors shed. Now the big question is what kind of a critter? The first critter that came to mind was a rat. Ewww! Memories of when our dog Meat Bone caught a rat and was playing with the dead thing in the back yard and I was so afraid of the thing that I did what any sane mother would do and made my young son Michael get it with a shovel while I stood and watched from the kitchen window still has the potential to curl my hair and cause me to break out into a cold sweat. Whew! I am out of breath after that sentence! That probably killed a few of your brain cells. And yes, you read that right! That was the dog's name and I think I even gave it to him. You have to admit that it was terribly funny to hear my kids outside calling his name. Meeeeet Booone...whistle, whistle...MEAT BONE!...Come on Meat Bone. Good boy meat bone. Just in case you think that I do not have pity for my poor children I want you to know that I did check the spelling on Mike's name. I do that every time I write his name down because I am afraid of spelling it wrong. It was somewhat disastrous when I sent him to Kindergarten with MICHEAL in large letters on the front of his book bag and making it necessary to stay up half the night sewing a new bag for him. If I would have known the problems this name would cause me the rest of my days I would have named him Frank just as his father wished. F-r-a-n-k, yes I can spell that without running and checking an envelope and hoping that the sender got it right. Can you imagine my embarrassment if that envelope is wrong???

At this point I again acted in a very sane manner and quietly backed away from the fence and ran into the house. I left the dog. He was on his own! Luckily John was home. I told him of my discovery. He went outside. In a short amount of time he came in, dog in tow, and informed me that there was no rat in the neighbors yard. Whew! I let out a sigh of relief. "There however is a skunk burrowed under the neighbors shed. Couldn't you smell that? " He asked in an astonished tone as he rolled his eyes at me.

A skunk living at close proximity to a dog is problematic on one level only. I am sure you all understand what that is and I have very little tomato juice in my pantry. John phoned animal control. We have had a trap in our back yard for a few days. The skunk it appears is too smart for that trick. The animal control agent removed the trap today without a skunk in the trap. She didn't even stop by and let us know. Maybe she didn't want to admit to her big failure. We still have a problem. Did the trap make the skunk paranoid and move on or has the skunk decided to stay for the winter and nest and have a whole litter of little baby skunkettes? Only time and the dog will tell. If he resumes his fence watch I will know. I however won't know what to do.

Oh no! The dog is still watching!

This has brought back memories of other past close encounters. Happily none of those experiences ended disastrously:

My cousin who lived on a farm in North Dakota did pet a skunk. I am sure that none of you can boast that you have accomplished this activity! The fact that he thought Mr. LePew was his cat does not diminish the awe that I hold for him in respect to the skunk petting.

Angela did share the campfire with a skunk. When she was little she loved campfires. We had enjoyed a lovely fire that evening but had retreated to the camper and I was getting the other tired children ready for bed. She pleaded to stay out by the fire for just a little more. I relented to her request. I checked on her off and on between wiping the sticky marshmallow off faces and stuffing bodies into jammies. You can imagine my shock when I looked out the camper window and saw what I saw! There was something so strange and wrong and amazing with the picture I saw. It has permanently been etched into my memory. There she was standing close to the waning fire, happily poking her stick into it and right beside her as if it was enjoying the warmth and camaraderie was Mr Eww LaPew...


The Invisible Mo said...

Yes, the lovely skunk. I always wanted one for a pet. My dog got a really nice present from one, once. Was weeks before he was completely odor free.
We used to have a family of skunks in the brush behind our house, but since I've had my dog I don't see them anymore. I'd much rather the skunks than the rats. I hate it when my dog kills rats and possums. That's when the boys and my step-dad come in super handy! haha. I just run and feel squeamish for about an hour.

Jientje said...

I have no skunk experience what so ever, except the stuff I've seen on TV, so I know they're rather smelly and they kind of squirt their lovely perfume on anything that comes near, right?
But do they really smell THAT bad?
I mean they look cute, how can something so cute be so unwanted in somebody's garden?
I know, that's probably the silliest question about skunks anyone has ever asked, but hey, I'm just a girl from Belgium, you know?

Becky said...

First: Meatbone, not Meat Bone.

Second: Sheila Friesen named him sort of. She'd always wanted a dog named Meatbone, and we all thought it was a good name. (Much better than what her parents named her dog a few years later: Fluffy.)

Third: I distinctly remember watching Meatbone and his rat through the kitchen window with you. He was having such a good time. Toss the rat up UP into the air, catch the rat, hurl rat across the yard, bound over to rat, repeat. I think that was the happiest I ever saw that dog aside from the time he dragged Mikey around the yard by his boots.

Christine said...

@ Becky: Hahaha! Thanks for jogging my memory.

@ Jientje: If the skunk sprays something it takes forever for the stink to go away and it does not matter what you do to try to get rid of the stench. If that skunk sprays the neighbors shed the smell will probably never totally go away. It will get into the wood and be there forever.

They make nice pets if you have them fixed so they can not spray anymore. They can be litter trained. I think the only reason that people do not get them as pets is their tendency to nest. They will chew up any fabric they can get their little teeth on so they can not really have the freedom of the house but must be caged. That is mean. Your cat would not like to be caged and a skunk is kind of like a cat except they chew things up.

Eve said...

I hope this encounter does not become any closer. I used to carpool with a guy who hit a skunk on the freeway one weekend. After that we ALWAYS went in my car. lol He was riding with all the windows down through the coldest part of the winter.

Eve said...

@Jientje - personally the odor always makes me very sick to my stomach and gives me a headache. It is the most obnoxious thing you can ever smell.

Fluffy said...

30 or 40 years ago, we would rent a cabin in western MD. For a few years, there were skunks living under them. We left them alone and they left us alone. In the evening, we would go down to the lake and watch them. Then, one year they decided to winterize the cabins. The areas under the cabins were covered and the fireplaces had inserts. We never went back.