Friday, September 25, 2015
For us, this has been the summer of skunks. We seem to be the main thoroughfare for some of the neighborhood skunk population. It is thought, and has actually been observed, that they live in the culverts and come out at night and wander through the property on their way to neighbor Judy’s where they happily live under her deck. As a side note, this dear neighbor and her dog, cats, and llamas co-exist very well with the neighborhood wildlife population. No one has been sprayed, which is a pretty good sign that all is well at her place. As for us, we have not been so lucky.
Stella came across her first skunk sometime in the early summer. She and I were home together and she wanted to go outside. I opened the door and she shot out as if she was late for a fabric sale. I followed close behind. This is not my first rodeo. I have a healthy respect for certain rash behaviors.
There was much barking, wild running through the bushes, and chaos. Amidst it all, I caught the slightest glimpse of a small patch of white fur. I called Stella, and in another one of those monumental moments, she came to me. This is not something I was expecting. Jack, the thug, never came when called. It was a pretty clear statement of his disdain for authority, and Wiley, God bless him, pretended not to hear us. But dear, perfect little Stella actually ran over to me.
I took her inside, and tried to decide what to do next. She had been sprayed on her feet, an apparent side effect of pouncing on her prey. I used the magic solution for skunk spray, which is a combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish detergent. (Google this for the correct proportions) As a side bit of trivia, when doing this de-stinking procedure, it is imperative that you only wash the affected area. If you become over zealous and wash the entire dog, you will actually spread the odor to un-affected areas and create an even worse mess. Additionally, I could smell skunk in her mouth and for that, I have my own not supported by scientific evidence, cure: White bread soaked in cream. I fed her a slice. That seems to calm the stomach and push the odor through the dog. My dear departed Mother loved cream and felt that it made many things better. I tend to agree.
It was a worry to all of us that this skunk was out in broad daylight. Urban legend has it that skunks wandering around during daytime hours are rabid. This isn’t actually true. It turned out that this skunk was perhaps part of a litter of 2-3 young skunks who either lost their mother a little too soon in their lives or ran away from home. The first young skunk, that was chased into the bushes by Stella, met its untimely demise, and I will not be giving any more details other than to say that this particular method of exit from being won’t be occurring again, at our farm.
A week or so later, Skunk #2 was, unbeknownst to us, wandering around in the orchard. Craig was out walking Stella for her pre-evening potty break. After incident #1 we began putting her on a leash, and walking her outside anytime after about 5:00 at night. Since it was around 3:30 in the afternoon, the two of them were taking an unleashed stroll. Craig said that Stella darted in front of him, and the next thing he saw was a skunk flying through the air and landing somewhat dazed in the compost pile. True to form, he called for “STELLA,” and she came to him. (I’ll just add, that Craig’s alarmed voice is somewhat more commanding than mine.) This little skunk eventually wandered off, and presumably lived out its life in the culvert or under Judy’s deck. We saw it a couple more times as it poked its way through the raspberry patch or across the field. As for Stella, she almost always has an escort for her outside excursions in the early evening.
Stella’s neighbor dog seems to have been sprayed with a little more frequency than she has. The neighbor’s property has a chain link fence on the backside, and the skunks walk on one side and spray dear neighbor dog through the fence. Another little Stella quirk is that she really enjoys sleeping. She does not like to be bothered when she is resting. She is a teen, and she cherishes her down time. One night, over the still summer air, we heard our dear neighbor dog let out a yelp and then cry. It was the unmistakable sound of a skunk attack. I waited for Stella to spring out of bed and stand with her paws on the window. But this was not to be. Instead, she let out a loud disgusted groan, as if to say, “Keep it down. I’m resting.”