If you've been suffering from a horrible allergy season, as I have, this skunk story might cheer you up. It makes me laugh between sneezes. (My allergies have been horrendous for the past 6 weeks-- I've gone through so many boxes of Kleenex that I'm going to plant some trees in my yard to make up for it. Really, I am!)
So, my new manuscript has, among other animals, a rescued skunk in it. I put out a call for real life pet skunk stories on Facebook as part of my "research." My good friend Ron Cree sent this one. (He's also an awesome YA author-- check out his books here!)
Here's Ron's story, in his own words, and I hope it makes you laugh (between sneezes), too!
For all of my childhood, I wanted a skunk as a pet. I mean, I was obsessed with the idea. For all of middle school and for most of high school, I read about them, looked at pictures of them, devoured every magazine article and book I could find about them.
My parents were smart, though. They always said “no way” whenever I brought it up. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that my dream finally came true.
I discovered that a friend of my dad’s had somehow come into possession of a de-scented skunk and was looking to sell it. I jumped at the chance, and without telling my folks, I paid him $15 and took possession of a gorgeous, grown male skunk.
I named him Prints, and he was the coolest thing EVER.
I bought him a small halter/leash, the kind you’d put on a poodle or small dog. With that, I was able to walk him around. Traffic would literally screech to a halt when people saw us.
Traits I remember about him:
- · He would frequently go into “spray mode”. If he was startled or felt threatened, his tail would stand straight up. He’d arch his back and stare you down. He’d stamp his little front feet on the ground and hop backwards a few inches. If none of that worked, he’d whip his butt around and “spray”. Then, feeling 100% confident that he’d succeeded in warding off any danger, he’d calmly proceed to go about his business. It was pretty hilarious.
- · He was nocturnal. He’d sleep most of the day (curled into a tight ball) and was very active at night. I would let him roam around my room while I slept, and he’d get into EVERYTHING. He particularly liked going into the closet and under the bed. He didn’t like being “exposed.”
- · He was very curious. He’d often strain to see what I was doing if I was at my desk or in bed. (Of course, he could have just been looking for food. He ate A LOT.)
- · He was sort of like a cat, in the sense that you could pick him up and pet him. He’d sit in your lap or fall asleep while you were holding him. His personality was cat-like, as well. Sort of aloof, but dumber, if that makes sense. Like a dumb cat. Not sneaky, but confident. (He really thought all he had to do was spray anything that messed with him.)
- · He had a temper, and if I tried doing something he didn’t like, or pick him up when he didn’t want to be picked up, he’d bite, or try to bite. He was definitely a wild animal.
- · When picking him up, he’d often be real wiggly, and whip his head from side to side, as if trying to bite. I eventually learned to pick him up by the skin of his neck.
There was one time, when I was out of high school, that I took a cross-country road trip in February. I had Prints in the car with me. I’d made a wooden box with a small round hole cut in the side that I’d keep him in. He liked the solid darkness of it (unlike a cage), but he could still poke his head out to see what was going on, if he wanted to. I put the box on the passenger seat with the hole facing me, and he’d stick his nose out every now and then to check things out.
Anyway, we got stuck in a very bad snowstorm in Minnesota, and I-90 was closed. So we were forced to stop at a hotel for a couple of days. Trust me, getting a skunk into a hotel is not a good idea. The first night, I left him in the car. BIG mistake. I’d forgotten about a box of Pop-Tarts in my baggage. But he hadn’t. He got out of his wooden box and DESTROYED the inside of the car, getting to those pastries. He literally tore (clawed, gnawed, whatever) his way through the side of my suitcase. Tore the upholstery. Shredded clothes, other boxes, etc. It was a MESS.
So I decided I had no choice but to smuggle him into the hotel. He liked it. He got to do his usual nighttime prowling around while I slept. (Except he decided that chewing up the carpet under the bed was a good idea.)
Unfortunately, housekeeping caught him the next day and I got in trouble. The manager was called and we were asked to move out, but it didn’t matter, since the freeway opened again later that morning.
I took him to Mount Rushmore and walked him around the plaza on his leash. That was pretty funny.
Again, I can’t emphasize enough the REACTION that occurred when people spotted us. They’d do a double-take, then a retreat, then a confused, whispered conversation with whomever they were with, followed by an “are you crazy?” glance at me, before finally asking what the deal was.
Me again-- Laura here. Isn't that all great? HUGE thanks to Ron for taking the time to write this down for me. I can't wait for you guys to meet the skunk in my upcoming book...