Skunked or Bamboozled


With the warm weather, the skunks in my neck of the woods are emerging from their winter sleep.

The other week, my coworker got sprayed just outside the front door of our office – this led to the entire office reeking of skunk for the next two days, as a blast of skunky air swept through every time someone opened that damn door.  It’s not his fault, though, I blame immigration for failing to alert non-North-Americans of the key difference between Pepe and Penelope upon entry into Canada.  He’s Scottish, and they don’t have skunks.  If my nose weren’t so angry with him, I’d suggest that it’s kind of sweet that he was going out to find out what was wrong with the cat hanging out beside our front entrance.

Poor guy thought he was safe even if the cat were mean, since it had its back to him.

For future reference of people who’ve never seen a skunk.  If it’s between late evening and mid-morning, and it’s got white markings on it – even if it isn’t a skunk, it’s a skunk. Skedaddle.  If you want more particular details, they kind of look like a long haired black and white cat from a distance, but they waddle.  They stamp their feet when they’re angry/anxious, and the end you should fear most is the tail end.

I’ve had a few close encounters with skunks and their smell, but have not yet been skunked myself.  I’ve got a dog, though, and nearly everyone I know who owns a dog has, at one point or another (or, in the case of my neighbour with a beagle, 5+ times) gotten skunked, or at least had to deal with a skunked dog.  And, if your dog gets sprayed – there isn’t a chance in hell that you’re getting him clean without long exposure and contamination.

I know it’ll happen, though I do my best to fight the odds.

With all of this in mind, when I was out in my back yard this morning getting ready for a dog walk, and heard a strange watery spritzing noise right beside me, it’s no surprise that my response was a low wail of “Nooooooooooooo” and a Mr. Bean-esque retreat.

Adrenaline pumping, I ran right out of the  yard, unleashed dog close on my tail, with the sole purpose of getting out of the line of fire.  Panting and wild eyed in my front yard, I, bloodhound, I sniffed suspiciously at the air… the dog… my knees… before throwing the leash around Gwynn and quick-stepping out into the road.

From the safety of the middle of the road, I more securely fastened the dog and acknowledged that skunks probably don’t make a noise like someone charging a water gun before or during their spray.  And that, if our sump pump pipe had frozen almost solid, it would probably make just that kind of gurgling hiss.

If you see this view of a skunk then, well… it’s probably already too late. “Image by Ken Bosma under Creative Commons license

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9 Comments

  1. Poor coworker! That is a smell that lingers!
    Neither myself, nor Moses and Alma have had skunk encounters. Thankfully! Actually, I haven’t seen any in our neighbourhood, though I know Calgary has them. Every time I think we may come across one, it just turns out to be teenagers in a parked car in the alley.
    But the wildlife centre I volunteer at has a skunk as an educational ambassador – Gulliver – and let me tell you – he is adorable! I’m certain I’d never want one as a pet (as is popular, and allowed, in the US), but I like getting to hang out with him during my shifts.

    • My uncle had a pet skunk, and, according to my mom, he was the sweetest thing, softer and more cuddly than a cat. I would love to meet a skunk in a ‘pet and affection’ kind of situation, but the wild ones… they are a bit testier :P

  2. We had a skunky encounter a few weeks ago. One sprayed something in our back yard near where our clothes dryer vent is. The load of clothes that I was drying at the time ended up smelling like skunk! :( Luckily, it was a load of old workout clothes that were about ready to be retired anyway.

    • OH that’s awful! I hope the next load after that wasn’t also contaminated. That is the kind of awful smell that lingers.

  3. Eau de Pepe! I can’t bear the smell when it’s wafting over the field, can’t imagine having it actually on me. Keep a sharp eye out for those scarey sump pumps. Too funny.

    • Hah, yeah, the smell is so awful that I might just overreact to the possibility of experiencing it first-hand. I jumped out of my skin the next time the damn thing went off too! Sump pump might not equal ‘skunk!’, but it is an alarming noise.

  4. I have a few skunk stories myself. Like the time two skunks fell in to our window well and fought to the death of one. The remaining one dug a hole to escape and every time he came out and saw his dead friend- he sprayed. It took us a month to find that damn skunk.

    • Oh no! I can’t even imagine how awful that would be. That’s just… ugh. A month of fresh and frequent skunkings, and I’d be looking at rental listings and randomly weeping throughout the day!

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