skunk.gifSo I’m over at my girlfriend Susan’s house Sunday and we’ve capped off a wonderfully mellow day with a recently finished dinner of grilled shrimp and scallop kabobs and corn and stuffed mushrooms and we’re settled in front of the TV watching a rerun of “The Daily Show.” Night has long fallen, the dog’s at our feet and the backdoor’s open a crack so that Susan’s cat Binker can come on back in when he’s done with his prowling.

I hear a sound from back there and think it’s the cat, but a moment later Susan says “Baby? There’s a skunk in the kitchen.” I scramble out from under the coffee table and tell her to grab the dog, who thankfully hadn’t noticed that there was a skunk in the freakin’ house. She does and I proceed cautiously toward it, but clapping as I go in hopes to startle it back outside. I get near the doorway and all I see is skunk tail sticking straight up like it’s ready to fire away and the rest of it is around a corner with its head buried in the dog’s food bowl gobbling up the untouched combo of Purina kibble and Pedigree canned food at which the dog had turned her snooty nose up earlier. She can be such a spoiled brat.

The clapping I’m doing does nothing to deter the creature who’s not deserting this fresh easy meal, so I double back closing the door to the bedroom just to give it one less place to run. My next weapon of choice? My guitar. And I again advance toward the kitchen bringing with me a barrage of hastily strummed chords (A-minor to E-minor mostly) in hopes that music might send the savage beastie soothingly on its way. There’s the tail again, still defiantly rigid, and not going anywhere.

I retreat once more, and go for the one last thing that might freak the stinker out: my didgeridoo. With my heart beating large I’m barely able to draw a breath, but somehow I force air through the instrument and produce its signature sound as again I head toward the kitchen.

This time, no tail. I look all around the kitchen holding the didge out at arms length and let out a strong sigh of relief ó but it’s cut short when I see the laundry room entrance right next to the dog’s now almost empty bowl and think it might’ve dove in there instead of out the door. Peering incrementally around the doorframe, tensed to run if so much as flea farts I find nothing alien. Another sigh. It was back outside. Where it belonged.

Only now there’s another problem. Bink’s still out there, too ó where he didn’t belong. But if we leave the door open the skunk might return. If we close the door, Bink’s locked out. So I option to put the dog’s food outside and let the skunk finish it, thus leaving the door open so bink can enter. Almost immediately I recognize that’s wrong on several levels. Not only am I now providing the skunk with a more readily accessible food supply that might keep it coming back for more, it still might come back inside, and now I’ve set things up for a potential confrontation between it and Bink, should the cat return. So back out I go and retrieve the bowl. Fortunately Bink showed up a few minutes later and ended the ordeal, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, with Bink still at large, let’s cue up some of that strange whistling Ennio Morricone music and follow me back outside in the dark with a dying flashlight and my didge where I’m hoping to shoo the skunk away and off the property. Closing the backdoor behind me and blowing the didge long and low, I walk first to the south side of the house and peer around the corner. Nothing. Whew. Turning around ó shit! ó there’s the varmint on the walkway and it’s coming out of the darkness right for me about 10 feet distant. I put the didge to my lips and blow hard and it freezes at about six feet away with the back door between us. Does it run? Hell no, it just hunkers down and stares at me with these glowing and determined beady eyes that tell me that dog food is destined for its belly and its bringing the devil as a dinner partner.

This spaghetti western standoff hangs on for several seconds until I stamp my foot take a short step forward and blow the didge for all I’m worth. The skunk abruptly 180s, whips its tail vertical and for a frozen moment in hell I’m staring at locked-and-loaded skunk ass until I am able to uproot myself and run like a girly around the south end of the house. When I finally peer around nose first, I’m pleased to find the skunk, too, had beat it and left the air gloriously unfouled.

Practically a miracle.


  1. I’d like to see the skunk and possum who live around my house’s perimeter in a duel to the death — no critter ambles away alive.

    I’m so tired of el skunko walking in through the dog door and that possum digging underneath my bedroom window. It’s like the outback here in Silverlake. And not a single coyote to snack on the fat bastards.

    Worst scenario: Skunk waddles in thru dog door, eats dog’s food, dog gets pissed, barks like mad, skunk nails dog and runs away.

    Our dog is crying and hollering, eyes as red as roses, olafactory on overload and house and clothes smell for 2 mos. We go down to Ralphs to get skunk abater and everyone we pass in the store says, “Ewwwww! Skunk.”

    Our house is ground zero and we can smell it from a block away in our car as we drive up. At work on Monday a colleague says: “You smell eau de skunk?”

  2. my cat would always freak out when I played my didj at her, but that didn’t stop me from doing it. I think the sound freaks them out more than the size. I like the idea of chasing off urban “wildlife” with a didj. I wonder what would happen if you didjed out an opossum? hmmm….

    That makes me think of a couple other stories. In my neighborhood in Berkeley we had a local skunk. We called it the fruit skunk because it would eat the fruit off the trees. We called the possum the “marsupial rat” aspirating the “t” into a “th”. Once a neighbor found it in the trash and it played dead. Cool!

  3. Although I questioned your methods at the time, your organic approach to our unwanted animal house invasion was gentle and effective. If we do have the cascading overgrown foliage where the critters live removed, where will the poor little beasties go?

  4. It would be nice for a change if the coyotes snacked on the feral critters shaking things up as opposed to the domesticated housecats.

    I’m trying to cook up a kevlar suit for my cat so he can wander freely around the yard and not get munched.

    I don’t want to be one of those poor suckers ditto’ing the neighborhood w/ sentimental photos of my wee skittens.

  5. Good riddance!

    I wonder how much of this is PETA’s fault. Before all this spaying and neutering began, our neighborhood was rife with feral cats and the like, and squirrels and mice and possums were never seen. Now the place is overrun with vermin and varmints.

    Not that I like to see animals suffer and be put to sleep, but damn, those wild cats kept the neighborhood under control!

  6. I must testify that this is due to a recent baby boom in the skunk population in SilverLake. I walk my 2 dogs nightly around Benton & Sunset, and they have been sprayed 3 out of 7 nights in the past weeek, by baby skunks. That is almost 1/2 of the time. In the 5 yrs I’ve had them, its a new record! Late night, drunken baths are becoming the norm. It is a great season for skunks, and I am becoming weary. They are actually quite agressive, and one even chased me down the street! Well, gotta go, time to walk them again. Ciao, stinkers.

Comments are closed.