Night time visitor was not after my bicycle

At 12:44 am my husband and I were awakened by the rat-a-tat barking of our dog Badges. Wondering who was skulking around our yard, we rolled out of bed. My husband  made his way toward the front door. I was looking out the window when he clattered back in – SKUNK!

I was not really awake but I immediately started running around in the dark shutting windows while he ushered the dogs into the entryway. The burning rubber smell was filling the house, my eyes were watering and my nose was shutting down fast. By the time we got the dogs settled down and went back into our bedroom, the place smelled worse than my kid’s hockey bag.

We’ve been through this drill before. This skunk came around last summer, this is just the first time we been so lucky as to encounter him/her with a full bag. Just a few nights ago, we heard something clawing at the tree in our driveway, like a big squirrel. My husband smelled a faint musk odor, and we were able to get the dogs in and shut the windows without the dreaded squirt.  They say skunks only have so much squirt, and it takes them a day or two to build it back up. We lucked out the other night, but last night the little sucker was packin’!

These animals are territorial. We had a female at our house in North Chico who came year after year. She’d hop over our back fence, sometimes trailing the most adorable kittens you have ever seen, and if our chou chou was in the back yard, there was an epic row that went from one gate to the other, all the way around our house. She sprayed that dog so many times, she sprayed both gates, she sprayed my husband’s work truck. She was a terrific fighter, they have two inch claws, the dog didn’t have a chance to get a holt on her, and the battles went on about twice a month every summer for three years. All we could do was shut the windows and wait til morning to give the dog a bath. We got this enzyme stuff from Northern Star Mills, worked pretty good.  Well, we thought it worked, I always wondered what we smelled like  to the casual outsider. They teased my husband about his work truck forever at the job site.

Finally the neighbor cleaned up his yard, and low and behold, there was a neat little den under his woodpile. We did not see her again. We found out the neighbors up the street had left cat food out for her, and genuinely enjoyed entertaining her little families, even after a spraying that sent them to the Emergency Room.

When our friend Aaron Standish was surprised by a skunk one morning, he held his arms up in a defensive gesture. He showed us the old nylon jacket he’d been wearing – there were holes melted in the cuffs of the sleeves!

So now we have a new stinky neighbor. We’ve had a female raccoon for years, we’ve seen her whole family, red eyes gleaming in the night, spill over the neighbor’s fence into our back yard, seen the little hand prints on the lid of our composter.  She makes a regular habit of pooping at the base of the old cedar tree in our front yard. Once we found a tiny opossum hanging in the shrubs along our driveway – he was playing dead, very convincingly. 

I don’t think there’s anything we can do about Skunky, except stay alert at night! Which is a good idea around here these days anyway.

 

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