She always wanted to be a country girl, so my wife was thrilled when we built a “rustic” cabin in the country and decided to start our little farm. We planted nearly an acre of garden, and what a garden it was. Grasshoppers came from miles to eat our vegetables. Finding ourselves with a bumper crop of hoppers, we bought eighty baby chicks; all were guaranteed to be females, proper egg layers. I am proud to say all eighty of our roosters were raised eating the most well fed grasshoppers around. It was a veritable wattle fest in our garden as chickens laid around filled to the gizzards. We soon added horses, and dogs and cats. Oh, boy, did we have cats. Like clockwork, every few weeks more kittens showed up. Our veterinarian called our cats an infestation. We spent a small fortune to get the population under control.
One night as Tanya stood at the back door watching the cats devour a 50 lb bag of cat food, she giggled wildly. She ran to the kitchen and whispered, “You gotta come see this; we have a new kitten.” I immediately began to threaten legal action against our veterinarian. “No, no, it’s so cute, you have to come see our new kitty.” I peered through the window and there amongst our horde of cats was a baby skunk, eating Meow Mix like a domesticated feline. “I’ll get the gun,” I said. “Oh no, you won’t! I already named him. His name is Pepe.” “What is his last name?” I asked rhetorically. “Le Pew,” she said with a giggle. I told her she would regret taking in a skunk. “If that thing goes off, you won’t find him so cute.”
The weeks flew by, and Pepe grew like a weed. Heck, some nights he was the first in line to get fed. I constantly reiterated my opinion that is was a bad idea to keep feeding a wild skunk. Then one evening, Tanya didn’t see Pepe eating with the rest of the cats. She walked into the yard, and just beyond the illumination of the porchlight I heard her whistle and call, “Pepe here kitty kitty kitty.” Then another whistle. Shortly she emerged from the darkness with the skunk trotting by her side. “Your’e a bad kitty, now git over there and eat before it’s all gone.” I closed the door and heard her educating Pepe on the dangers of country life, “It’s just not safe for a skunk to go wondering around in the dark.”
In the middle of the night, we awoke to an awful ruckus. The sound of dying dogs assaulted my ears. They yelped, and hollered and carried on like a bunch scared puppies. They barked in desperation and clawed at the door. I threw on the porch light, all four of our dogs scratched and pawed at their snouts. Drool slung from their jowls as they violently shook their heads. I opened the door, just a crack to see what might be the problem. The dogs pushed passed me and ran directly into our bedroom and jumped on the bed. My wife screamed as I turned to yell at the beasts; the smell found its way to my olfactory nerve. There was an instant that I couldn’t identify the smell; then the words shot from my mouth before my brain knew what happened, “SKUNK!”
Tanya staggered from the bedroom, her eyes watered, she managed to choke the word, “skunk.” We wrestled the dogs outside and locked them in the barn. We would deal with their stench in the morning. We turned our attention to fumigating the house with hundreds of scented candles. While I threw away my pillow, I said, “I told you so.” She immediately went on the defensive, “You don’t think this was Pepe do you? He would never spray the dogs; he’s their family.” We argued for several minutes when I realized I wasn’t going to win; I conceded, “Fine it was some other wild skunk. It wasn’t YOUR skunk at all. To be clear, if the dogs ever corner YOUR skunk, they will probably do him in.”
Sure enough, a week later, we were sound asleep when we were again woken up by a terrible noise. This time the crawl space under our bathroom erupted in a violent battle. We stomped on the floor and cursed the dogs. They had cornered something under the house. They growled and barked visciously. We could hear them hitting the floor with such force that it woke up our children. It started with a twitch in my eye, then quickly turned into uncontrollable gagging. The most potent stench I have ever experienced penetrated every pore of my body. Then there was silence.
As it was nearly 4 AM, we spent the rest of the night sleeping in the car. When morning came, we assessed the damage. All four dogs, of course, stunk to high heaven, thay lay about on the porch nursing their wounds — Pepe nor the imaginary “wild” skunk that had attacked the dogs previously were anywhere in sight. We entered the house, and every square inch smelled so badly we thought we might just as well burn the thing down.
I cautiously crawled under the house and found, just beyond my reach, not one but two skunk carcasses. I had to cut the floor out of our bathroom to remove the remains. To this day, Tanya insists the “wild” skunk was some random little floozy that got her Pepe killed. “He was a good little skunk until she came along.” She finished by saying, “I told you so.”