Saturday, September 24, 2011


We live on an island of Martha’s Vineyard, where once upon a time skunks never existed.  Many many years ago, some evil-minded person released a pair, and who that was has long been the subject of much speculation.  And now, because we have no earth-cleansing predators other than hawks or owls to keep their numbers down, the skunks are quite abundant and live very happily.
By abundant I mean you never drive to town without seeing a few dead in the road along the way.  A friend, who once raised chickens, used to trap almost one a day, and he wasn’t releasing them alive so none were caught twice.  The skunks almost roto-till lawns looking for grubs.  Ground nesting birds like quail, whippoorwills, and some of the shore birds have all but disappeared.  Every dog owner has a tale to tell and most have a bottle of Skunk Off or other balm handy all the time.  More than once I have heard stories about people finding the skunks walking around inside their homes, coming in through either through a dog door or a sliding door left ajar.
Our older dogs received the wrath of skunks a few times when they were young, but along the way learned it wasn’t fun and have since then gone out of their way to avoid the black demon with the white racing stripe.  Our youngest was only sprayed lightly once and then fell in with the older dogs, steering clear of the stinky little creatures.  Now they loosely point skunks from a safe distance, heads held high with their noses moving slowly side to side, I guess to alert the rest of us to the critter’s position.
There are dogs that attack every skunk they see, and why some do and others avoid them I will never know.  I am just thankful that ours have decided they like smelling like dogs.

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