Sent Home from School because of a Skunk
Scents and Memories!
Some memories are longer lasting than others as are certain scents. The day that my younger brothers and I got sent home from school because of a skunk is one of those memories!
Anyone that has ever smelled the spray from a skunk will know what I mean by a scent that lingers as has this particular memory.
What started out as an ordinary day turned out to be extraordinary!
Yes...some people have skunks as pets!
Family pictures with my mother and me and our dogs
Our day began...
My dad was always an early riser and from the country he would drive the 30 miles or so into Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he worked as a carpenter eventually working his way up to becoming the superintendent of a large commercial construction company. He was a hard worker and was very talented.
The roads were not the super highways of today so that 30 mile one-way trip took some time...especially during the winter when the roads were covered with snow.
The very first home that I remember living in as a child, he and my mother had built from scratch. Additions to that home, like the garage, breezeway and sun-room, I do remember being built as time passed.
Turning our basement into a recreation room as well as his workshop and my mother's laundry room and cabinets for her home canned goods were also gradual additions as time and money allowed.
The parochial school that we were attending my dad was also instrumental in building.
But I digress...
Suffice it to say that my mother would have packed my dad's lunch pail and sent him off to work for the day with a hug and a kiss prior to getting we kids awakened, fed and dressed for our day at school. She would have also packed our lunches with sandwiches (always homemade bread in those days made by her loving and capable hands), fruit and some homemade cookies. We could purchase little cartons of milk for a few pennies at school in those days and we took advantage of that.
It was the Fall of the year and there was a certain crispness to the air but we still had our house windows open enjoying what we could of the fresh air coming in through the screens. All too soon the long cold winter months would arrive and keep those now open windows closed and frosted.
My Dog Tyler Gets Skunked!
Family pictures with my Dad, brothers and dogs
Have you or any of your animals ever been sprayed by a skunk?
All of a sudden we heard Sheba, our German Shepherd, and Rusty, our Cocker Spaniel begin a furious round of barking and yelping. It took no more than a moment to realize what was happening because of the smell.
Obviously a skunk had wandered out of the fields or nearby woods and our guard dogs (at least they thought of themselves as such!) began to defend their property.
Of course hardly anyone comes out a winner when tangling with a skunk!
That skunk literally make its way all around our house...remember the open windows?...spraying not only the dogs, but wafting a noxious smell so very terrible into the house that it was pure misery!
My mother had her hands full knowing that much of her home canned tomatoes would have to be sacrificed and used in bathing the dogs to try to eliminate as much of that rotten egg sulfur smell as possible. Tomato juice was the prescribed home remedy for ridding animals of skunk smell back in those days.
But what to do with us?
We were inside and had not been directly hit with the spray from the skunk and we begged her to get us out of that environment as soon as possible thinking that school was the answer.
To keep from smelling that horrific scent my mother let us use a little of her perfume and we all put a dab under our noses. That helped a little but not nearly enough. We now had the aroma of eau-de-skunk mingled with my mother's perfume...not the greatest scent combination by anyone's standards.
I always loved school but my brothers, just being boys, did not quite as much. That particular day they could not wait to get to school!
So with a bite of breakfast packed and added to our lunch pails (who wanted to eat breakfast amidst skunk smell?) my mother cranked up her car named Tillie and dropped us off at school.
"Pee-U!" the kids all said as they ran as far away from us as they could in each room. Noses were held...we were doing some of that as well!...and needless-to-say the classrooms were royally disrupted.
I doubt that my mother made it home before the party telephone line had begun ringing! She was summoned to come back to school post haste and pick up her darlings.
As memory serves these many years hence, it was a few days before we were welcomed back to school and it took quite some time for our now pink colored dogs to completely get past that aroma of skunk.
Cleaning a dog after being sprayed by a skunk
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What to know about skunks
Most skunks do their foraging for food at night. They are omnivorous meaning that they eat a variety of foods depending upon what is available...everything from plants, insects, fish, fruit and even small mammals. Most live in the Americas.
If you see a house cat sized black and white animal (there are also a few brown or grey or even cream colored ones) and you are within about ten feet (3 meters) of it and it suddenly turns around and lifts its tail...turn and run! That is a defensive position and if you are lucky you just might miss being sprayed with that foul smelling liquid mist that can be projected from glands under the skunk's tail about that distance.
Most animals living in the wild give skunks a wide berth if seeing them because they know from experience that their lives will be miserable for several days if sprayed. It is such a noxious odor...that while it is not deadly...it defies most methods of removal and let's put it this way...they just might wish that they were dead to escape that lingering horrible smell. Even wolves and bears will avoid tangling with a skunk!
Large birds like hawks and eagles are a skunk's main predator. The reason for that is that most birds do not have a highly developed sense of smell.
Skunks will threaten with hissing noises, stomping of their feet, showing of their teeth and posture with that raised tail. They use that oily horrific scented chemical spray only when really feeling threatened because it takes as long as 10 days for another supply to once again be built up in their bodies for defense.
Most skunks in the wild do not live very long. Their average lifespan is only 1 to 3 years and one reason for this is their truly bad eyesight. In captivity they can live much longer...more like domesticated house cats. They give live births of from 2 to 10 kits each year from April to June.
© 2010 Peggy Woods