Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Phew Kitty!

The other day I was reading an entry over at Sweet Virginia Breeze wherein she described seeing a skunk or two.

I was reminded of my own encounter with a pole cat many years ago.

It was 1988; our house was but a year old. We had a little dog named Ginger, a mixed mutt who stayed outside.

She was a small dog, part terrier and part something else, very hyper and moody. She could be very affectionate when she wanted to be but if she was pissed off at you she didn't hesitate to glare and let you know you'd messed up.

I loved her dearly but kept her outside in all but the coldest weather because of my allergies. She shed constantly. She lived to be 17 years old so I must not have been too hard on her though I always felt guilty when it rained even though she had a nice dog house with carpeting in it.

Anyway, when we first moved into our newly-built home, we had to keep her on a chain because she kept wandering back down to the house we lived in before (it was just on the other side of the farm but she would take the road).

After a while, though, she decided she liked her new digs and so the chain was nothing more than afterthought. Gingere would lay in the sun outside the kitchen door and when I was home I loved to peck on the glass and get her attention. She'd come up and I'd pet her and send her back to her nap.

One hot summer night as I slept alone in our bed - my husband was at work at the firehouse in Roanoke - I heard Ginger barking as if the world was ending. I bounded from bed and switched on all the outside lights.

She was in the front yard and I couldn't see anything but she had something cornered on the front porch. I put on clothes and as soon as I went outside I knew what she'd cornered.

Skunk. And it was spraying. It was spraying the dog and it was spraying my house.

Ginger would not come when I called. That was her skunk and she wasn't going anywhere. She stood a few feet from it, barking as if all of hell was in front of her. The smell was so odious that I could not get close. It burned the eyes and made the breathe in the chest feel as if it were solid fire. I felt it on my skin and it burned that, too.

The smell began to infiltrate the house as the poor frightened, cornered skunk kept using its only defense.

I can't remember if we had a game warden in those days and I am not sure what one would have done at 2 a.m. anyway. Dismayed and upset, I called the fire station and woke my husband.

"The dog won't come away from the skunk and its spraying and spraying and it's all over the house and I can't make it go away!" I wailed into the phone.

"What do you want me to do about it?" my husband mumbled.

"Come home!" I cried. "Come home and get this skunk or we're not going to be able to live in this house for a year!"

I wasn't sure he could actually come home for such a thing. Was there something in the fire department regulations about skunk emergencies at home?

Finally I bundled myself up in old clothes, tied a kerchief around my head to cover my nose and mouth, and went back outside. I hooked up the water hose and went around to the front yard, where I sprayed the dog in hopes of getting her away from the skunk.

About that time my husband, who must have driven well above the speed limit to get home, pulled in the driveway. Once he opened his truck door he realized what I was talking about as far as skunk smell. If you have never smelled skunk smell when it has immediately been sprayed, consider yourself blessed.

He found me there with the water hose, crying, covered in water and smelling a little like skunk myself. Finally, we got the dog on the chain. The skunk regained its senses and ran off into the meadow.

The skunk had indeed sprayed the house. At that time we had cedar siding on it and the wood soaked up the odor.

We washed the dog in tomato juice many times over, and then washed her many times in various shampoos. Our shoes stunk from walking in the grass around where the skunk sprayed and had to be thrown out. As for the cedar siding, we washed it down with Mr. Clean, vinegar, and everything else we could think of.

It stunk for a long time, and years later when it rained it smelled like skunk on the front porch.

The moral of this story: stay away from skunks.

4 comments:

  1. They are sooo nasty and cantankerous! Have not had one on our property YET, at least not one that the dogs have come across. How awful for you that it stunk up your house.

    DI

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  2. What an adventure! I can always smell the darn things whenver we travel and one has been hit on the road. I can only imagine what it would be like to have one spray up your house!

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  3. Oh Anita, I sympathize with you. What a terrible experience. I think we were very lucky. I cannot smell anything on Maggie May now. The odor left quickly. I'm beginning to think it must have been one of the baby skunks that got her.

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