Skunks and I have a history. Growing up in the suburbs were there was still a substantial bit of woods around we didn’t really have many skunks in our neighborhood (also the number of dogs may have kept them at bay). My first real encounter with them was at East Fork Lodge (a state park in Ohio), when I was maybe 10-12). Someone had dropped popcorn all over the entry steps as a joke (I guess they knew skunks love buttered popcorn). There were about 10 skunks blocking our re-entry into the building after an evening walk by the lake. The next major encounter occurred many years later while I was sitting at a waste water treatment plant constructed wetland doing some experiments. I was there all day and night for two days. During the evening I could smell the skunk and hear it rustling around the tall grass (there were also armadillos and a raccoon around; and yes, I could smell the skunk over the stench of the WWTP). I also watched his fuzzy butt waddle to and fro past my tent several times that evening. In the morning I was sitting on a chair, enjoying a beverage and the quiet morning sun, when the skunk trotted out of the weeds and headed directly for me. I froze, not wanting to startle the little guy, and he just continued on his merry path, which took him directly under my chair. After he had passed, I suggested that his mother teach him some manners and the meaning of the word nocturnal, while quietly thanking him for not freaking out and spraying me (because honestly after two days in a waste water swamp I didn’t really smell that pleasant to begin with). Next came Rio and the walking path skunks (which were chronicled in the blog post copied below from 3 years ago). Skunks are punks and my dog thought they looked like fun things to chase. Cut to my move to Duluth, a place that is much wilder, even in the city, and evidently is full of skunks. In two years at my old place we saw skunks probably 8-9 times, and smelled them almost weekly (unless my neighbors were routinely smoking high grade stuff, it was definitely skunks). We also saw lots of deer, foxes, raccoons, and potentially heard a bear. So suffice it to say we are used to wildlife in proximity to our abode. Rio would really like to get much closer to the wildlife than I would. So as we moved to my new place (closer to the lake, closer to the downtown) I wasn’t surprised when on my first night I saw a skunk near the dumpsters at Marine General (the fishing/boating/kayaking store across the street). I then saw it again, a few nights later when I went to walk Rio. It was crossing the street in the opposite direction, walking towards my side while we walked to the grass on the other side. So I was on skunk alert. Last night, the skunk upped the ante. I think now it has decided that it should live under my porch. Last night I went out with Rio and it smelled very strongly of skunk. The smell didn’t go away all night, and seemed to waft into my bedroom from the alley (as all my windows were open on a hot August night – Duluth hot 75°F). This morning taking Rio out, the smell was still there, which makes me assume the skunk is still present
So Mr. /Mrs. Skunk I am going to make you this deal. I live here now, and you lived here before me (but don’t pay rent) so we both have some equal claim. Therefore I am proposing a live and let live policy. So if you just want to be cool and eat bugs and garbage from under my porch, cool. I will prevent Rio from chasing you (nothing I can do about a bark or two) as much as possible, both for your safety and mine. Your end of the bargain is not to spray me, or Sara, or especially not Rio (who is likely to be the one to startle you into releasing your noxious odoriferous mist). This live and let live policy will be in effect until such time as you violate the treaty. If this treaty is violated, I will adopt a scorched earth policy in regards to the entire neighborhood skunk policy, I don’t know what all that will entail, but it will not be awesome for you. I also understand that you are a skunk and therefore unable to read and/or have internet access to read this blog, so suffice it to say that this entire treaty is just based on the hope of not getting sprayed.
In short Skunks are punks, but crabs are jerks.(I’ll save the crab story for another blog).
So for almost a year Rio and I have been walking on the paved walking trail that runs from the Baylor Basketball Arena, behind the baseball park, and down by the law school, all along the Brazos River. It is a very nice walk. We tend to walk at night, because there are less people and Rio can be off leash. In the whole time we’ve been walking (probably 150 walks) we saw a total of 4 stray cats, one night heron, a couple of ducks, a couple of toads, and a small water snake. Never on the same day and never two days in a row… UNTIL yesterday. Yesterday we saw 5 skunks. They crossed the path in front of us and went towards the football field and then immediately crossed back about twenty feet in front of us. Rio was unleashed, but headed my warning to come back and leave those things alone. Rio was excited but listened, and the skunks went merrily down the hillside towards the river. I thought, well that was cool and it worked out good, cause nobody was upset and nobody got sprayed by a skunk. SO CUT TO TONIGHT. I thought I couldn’t possibly see skunks two nights in a row, that would be unprecedented. Of course I was wrong. As we approached the same spot as the night before we see a single skunk safely on the other side of the fence. Rio sees it and immediately freezes and stares it down (through the fence). The skunk sees Rio and immediately raises his tail. That was the sign that I should have leashed Rio back up and run away. Stupid Jason. I thought the skunk would run away, away from the fence and the dog, into the open field and patch of woods. NOPE. It ran right toward Rio, tail up, through the fence and towards the patch of woods between the path and the river. Rio being only so good did what dogs do, she chased it. She in fact, ran it over twice, once racing towards it, and a second time as she turned around for another pass. The skunk being a skunk, hauled ass for the bushes, and after being rolled twice, left Rio with a little noxious spray in the face. The only lucky thing is that evidently skunks can only spray a little bit while running away. But a little skunk goes a long way. Now my truck (we drove to the path), my dog, my clothes, and my apartment smell of skunk. Even after washing the dog in baking soda and body wash everything still smells. Only now it smells like skunk and Suave for Men. F-ing Mondays. F-ing Skunks.