Monday, July 16, 2007

OutFOXing the skunk





We have a problem. A stinky problem. It's making me crazy.

Each night at dusk a skunk passes through our backyard on his nightly stroll. He's absolutely adorable with his glossy black and white coat, his bushy tail and his shiny black eyes. He sniffs about, looking for grubs, completely oblivious to us even though we are often sitting just a few feet away.

The problem isn't the skunk. It's Winston, our incredibly stupid (but loveable) springer spaniel. How many times does he have to get sprayed before he gets that the skunk is not a squirrel with a stripe? That if he chases it he's going to get blasted with skunk spray, right in the face and up the nose?

Winston's been sprayed 3 times in the past few months, and twice before that. I've tried to train my family to keep the doors closed in the evening, but too often they're left open, and the next thing we know the dog is tearing about, foaming at the mouth, shaking his head and spreading eau-de skunk all through the house. The first time it happened was at Thanksgiving when we had relatives staying with us for the weekend. At the end of the first evening the dog was let out, but before the door was even shut he came flying back in, and the obnoxious smell was so horrid that it caused a young relative to throw-up, right then and there. Then we had throw-up and a stinky dog to deal with. My daugher came home the next day and said the combination of roasting turkey aroma and skunk smell made her want to throw up too. More recently we were hosting a large gathering of people, a volleyball club wrap-up event, but the party cleared out in exactly 5 minutes flat when the freshly-skunked dog ran through the house. More than one guest has let me know that their clothes still stink of skunk.

If you haven't experienced 'fresh' skunk spray, it's a smell you simply cannot believe. It gets into your mouth, permeates your skin, makes your eyes burn. Everyone in the room, everything in the room absorbs the odor and stinks for months. It doesn't matter how many times we wash Winston, in whatever kind of guaranteed skunk-odor-removing solution, he still stinks for weeks, and the smell lingers for months, especially noticeable when he gets wet. At Thanksgiving our house guests reported that when they returned home after the weekend and opened their suitcases, everything in them smelled of skunk.

What to do, what to do??

When I lamented to my friend (and fellow author) Diane Tullson about my skunk dilemma, she replied with the following...

What the heck was the skunk doing in the yard with so many people around? And wouldn't it be out of skunk-squirt by now? I'm thinking you have a bad skunk. A genuine psycho. A serial-squirter. I think you need to do it in. Ah ah ah, I can hear that vegetarian voice crying for mercy, but no, bring in the guns, Shelley. I'm sure about 48+ Deep Cove residents will support me on this. OH MY. There's probably not a can of tomato juice to be had in N. Vancouver. You're probably not ready to laugh about this just yet.

No, I wasn't.

Another author friend, Kim Denman, always a source of the most intriguing facts, gently explained that the only natural enemy the skunk has is the fox. Therefore, to get rid of the skunk, you simply have to sprinkle fox urine around your property. Sounds logical.

But where does a person get fox urine?

The three of us wondered if human urine might suffice, and we made plans.

This is what the next email from Diane said.

Night vision goggles, that's it! Fill the squirt guns with pee, how about? Get a gun, Shelley. Tell the neighbours to stay away from the windows, put on a nose plug, and do it.

Sadly, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I searched the internet and discovered there are pellets available that are made of fox pee. You sprinkle them around your yard to deter the skunk. Not as much fun as squirt guns, I admit, and certainly not as 'fitting', but I'm on the market for fox-pee pellets. If you know of an outlet that sells them, please call me.

Shelley




58 comments:

Leslie said...

Hi dear Shelley,

I love your blog and your writing... but I love you most. You inspire me more than you will ever know. Thank you for your gentle prodding and your faith in me as someone who also likes to put their thoughts down on paper.

LJT

Bookminder said...

This brought back wonderful memories of a pet skunk I had as a teenager, de-scented of course! Pepe Le Pew stayed with us for a year before setting off to start a family of his own. Our own dog, a Great Dane, learned to recognize Pepe in the wild and would run up to him to touch noses. My younger brother was not so fortunate. Returning late one evening he spotted a skunk in the garage and ran over say hello. Unfortunately this wild skunk was fully armed and Kip got it right in the face. Good luck finding the fox pee pellets!

LE

Bookminder said...

Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog. As Leslie says, it's addictive! Just a heads up, I have a little plan percolating in my brain for September. My vision: an English class reading a novel and posting musings, questions, ideas in a blog. The author of the book also takes part by commenting on the student's posts. Any idea who I see taking the role of the author? What do you think? - Lesley
PS I am delighted to see you are encouraging LT to write. She has such a talent for engaging people in a story.

Debramulligan said...

What a wonderful read my friend...you are very talented.....but we all knew that.

Deb

Anonymous said...

I wonder under what conditions the fox urine is collected? I have a wincing suspicion that it could be quite terrible.

Shelley Hrdlitschka said...

Oh dear. I never considered that! How would someone acquire fox urine?

Okay, I take it back. I am no longer on the market for fox-pee pellets. I will just have to learn to co-exist with the skunk, eau-de-skunk and all.

Gabby said...

Fox pee pellets!
Haven't tried them yet....
http://www.critter-repellent.com/skunk/skunk-repellent.php

Shelley Hrdlitschka said...

Thank you Gabby, whoever you are. I will look for this product.

misha3242 said...

Looking at the dates on this, I m wondering about your skunk success.
Have you evicted the critter?
We have a persistant one that has taken up residence under my house. This morning I have been busily tossing amonia soaked rags under there. (a stinky remedy to get rid of a smell sadly, but I will have to try since my kids are saying it is under their room!)

Duran Martinez said...

Reading and sharing your skunk dilemma, I am going to try this.
Being an avid outdoorsman and hunter, I know that fox urine is a common scent used to mask human odor while hunting deer.
I plan on attending my local Gander Mountain (Cabaela's, Bass Pro, whatever) and purchasing a bolttle or two and putting it at the entrance of the skunks den. Or shoul I say; my three seasons room.
My dog was spayed last night in a valiant effort of skunk fighting, only to end up smelly and defeated.
I will be happy to inform you of my findings.
And rest assured kind readers, no fox was hurt during the making of this experiment.

Mickey Emerson said...

Hmmmm, think I'd keep the skunk and get rid of the dog LOL. Kidding. (I do have 2 pet skunks however, from the skunk farm) Also as an avid outdoorsman and hunter, I have used fox urine as a cover scent. It takes all of one drop on a pair boots that you don't care much for. (I use rubber ones that can be washed) Well, the smell isn't as bad as "fresh" skunk spray, but it is very strong and very , well, smelly.
They sell it in bottles at hunters outlet stores, it usally says "meat fed fox urine" so there evidently is a difference if feed dogfood?
And of course that would be collected at fox farms, and I am sorry to say, well, you know that fur coat your friend was showing off awhile back.
My grandpa had a saying, ole fair died when he was a pup, guess I will have to get a pet fox next, that will be one someone won't be wearing.

mickey said...

Darn, I so meant to add, Whenever I would use the fox urine, guess what was always checking my trail out.
Yep, a fox.
Skunk, fox, skunk , fox hmmmmm
Both can carry rabies by the way, as a serious after thought.
My Skunks can be seen on the url below in my pics

Shelley Hrdlitschka said...

Hey, cool pics of your pet skunks! Do they actually make good pets? Do they miss their scent?

I don't think we have that product in Canada, but I'll check. The skunk situation has gotten out of hand in my community. They are EVERYWHERE, and all day long.

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