Kennel Commotion

With grandson Jordi in town for Labor Day weekend, I was sleeping in a small upstairs room when my wife appeared at the door after 4 a.m. Sunday.

“Honey?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry to wake you. A cop just left. He said a neighbor complained that Buddy was barking and there’s a skunk in the kennel.”

“How could that be?” I thought, as I rose to dress.

A skunk in the kennel? Huh?

I hadn’t heard the barking because the air conditioner eliminated outside noise. But when I got out back, sure enough, Buddy, excited to see me, was leaping up at the kennel door. Below him, seemingly content and unalarmed, stood a young black skunk with a thin white strip down its tail. The little critter had already left its calling card, a strong odor clinging to the kennel area, as I cautiously approached. When I opened the door, swung it out and stepped back, Buddy sprinted toward the brook and I walked away in the same direction, attempting to give the skunk a wide berth.

After 10 or 15 seconds, the skunk waddled through the doorway and followed a stone wall away from us. I stood and watched, figuring I’d give it time to get out of sight before moving. Then, suddenly, the skunk took an abrupt left turn and scooted out our way like a kitten called to dinner. Curiously, the little critter seemed fascinated with Buddy, which I found a little unnerving, me standing there empty-handed in backyard darkness, wearing shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks. I sensed weirdness. Maybe the skunk had rabies or something else dreadful.

I decided to vacate the area, so I turned, walked quickly toward the barn and called Buddy, who sprinted past me like only Buddy can, running the length of the barn and circling into the front yard by the flagpole. When I looked back to monitor the skunk’s movement, I was surprised to see it following like a happy little lapdog. I picked up the pace, turned the corner, got to my carriage sheds and turned on the lights. My wife was standing in the open doorway, shooing Buddy out.

“Did you find it?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s a young skunk. You should be seeing it soon. It’s following us.”

“Get a shovel,” she said. “Buzzy says that’s what he uses.”

As I walked toward the shovels, rakes and tools hanging on the inner shed wall, sure enough, here comes the skunk, right at me, not aggressive in any way, waddling with a happy gait. I grabbed the first thing I could reach, a long wooden-handled edger with a rounded 10-inch blade, and extended it out in front of me as the skunk passed. But that skunk wasn’t interested in me; it wanted its newfound Buddy, who was standing in front of the door my wife had by then closed. The friendly little critter walked up to Buddy, who didn’t seem the least bit afraid, ignoring it as he looped toward me. When the skunk followed, I backed off, but it kept coming right at me. At that point, when it got within reach on the illuminated driveway, I took a swipe at it, narrowly missed and the metal blade threw sparks off the tar in front of its face. The skunk got the message, turned and waddled away down the driveway and across the road, never to reappear. I put Buddy back in the kennel and went to bed.

In the morning, I went out back for daylight inspection and found that the skunk had tried to dig its way into the kennel around the entire perimeter. How it finally entered, I could not tell, but it got in, maybe squeezing through one of the three-inch diamond-shaped, chain-link fence openings. I daily feed the dogs out there in the adjacent cookhouse and the skunk must have been eating spilled food on the ground and cookhouse floor, then smelled something it liked in the kennel and found a way in while Buddy slept soundly on cedar shavings in his plastic 50-gallon drum. At least that’s my theory, and I did give the mystery some serious evaluation.

A day or two later, while walking my favorite meadow with the dogs, I recounted the story to a woman who raises Christmas trees there. We often speak in passing and that day was no different. Her theory was that the skunk had been separated from its mother by the flood or something else, and was temporarily confused and hungry. A similar post-flood occurrence had unfolded in her own yard, she said. A rat, flooded out of the steep bank overlooking a wet depression behind her home, had sat bold and brazenly in her yard for a couple of days until the floodwaters receded. Then it disappeared, likely back to where it had come from.

Later that day, on my second walk through the meadow, this time with my wife, the same woman approached through the mature Christmas trees. She wanted to share a tale about another critter she had encountered that had apparently been dazed by the flood. While cleaning and straightening her trees that had been underwater on Aug. 28, she and her crew came upon an unusual sight. Stretched out head-high across debris woven into the needled limbs of a seven-foot Christmas tree laid a large, healthy garden snake. A worker poked at the harmless reptile and it shot off to safety like it knew exactly what it was doing.

The moral of the story?

Although weird things happen when nature unleashes her fury and all hell breaks loose, wild creatures find a way to survive.

Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mad Meg theme designed by BrokenCrust for WordPress © | Top