Here’s how it went down, as well as I can recall it past the memory-altering chemicals I’ve taken to help me forget. (Those chemicals are all derived from butter. This is a G-rated site, remember?)
I called the Animal control peeps at 7:10 in the morning, because remember that over the weekend, their pleasant and polite message told me they’d be in at 7:00? The very nice police station telephone lady commiserated with me, and told me she’d have them call me as soon as they checked in. Then I drove Kid 1 to school. When I came back home, want to guess who was strolling around my yard, marking territory and snacking on my dandelion greens? Yup. Mama Skunk. I snuck into my garage and closed the door behind me before leaving the car. (Because, duh. I don’t take chances.)
Fast forward five hours or so.
I am not kidding.
I made another call to the AC. The (completely different) lady at the police station telephone desk did not commiserate with me very much. Or at all. In fact, she said, “What is the problem?” and I told her, and she said, “Oh, well, hey. Animal Control doesn’t handle skunks.” Um, what? “Or badgers.” Badgers? Do I sound like a person who needs something else to be afraid of, here?
Side note: Once a deer, having presumably been hit by a car on the road not far behind our house, chose to stagger onto the grassy hill in the church parking lot directly behind our house, where it died. Quietly. But still. Right there. And it was warm. Like, summertime warm. I called Animal Control (this was several years ago) and asked them if they’d very sweetly come on over and collect the deceased before it, well, exploded. (Did you know that a deer can explode? It is less than beautiful, as far as Sights and Scents in Nature are concerned.) The AC people told me, well, actually, ma’am, we don’t do that.
So, what, I’m wondering, does AC actually DO? Dogs and cats, as it happens. Dogs? And cats? Thank you very much, but I think even I could do dogs and cats if it became necessary. I may have begged at this point. I am sure I didn’t shed a tear, but I was on the verge of saying some impolite words. I went slightly confrontational and told the lady that I needed some help. I could not live with a skunk. She had to help me. To which she said, and I quote: “Nobody’s going to come over to your house and catch a skunk. It would spray. And that would smell.”
And… thank you very much.
After what might have appeared to be a stunned silence on my end of the phone, she said she’d try calling someone (an officer, or maybe not) to see if he’d “rent me a cage.” In which I could catch my own skunk. Because nobody was coming to my house to catch it for me. Because, remember? It would spray. And that would, remember? Smell.
Is anyone else getting an image of me, looking like She-Ra, Princess of Power, lifting a caged skunk into the back of my almost-new Honda Pilot? Just wondering.
So I did a little waiting, and a very nice man called. He said I could come on over to the Animal Control office at four o’clock and “lease” a trap, and someone would show me how to use it. And that the trap was built so a skunk, once inside, couldn’t lift its tail to spray. As if that were some kind of sufficient help. I said, “Sir. I have to tell you, this is more than I think I can handle. I am afraid of this thing. I don’t know if I can go out and set a trap for it. And what if I do it wrong? It will be angry. I know it.”
And said, “See you at four o’clock.” And – this part will matter in a minute – gave me the address.
This is a skunk story, not a Very Busy Afternoon story, so I’ll spare you the details of everything I had to do to get to the next important point of the story: I put a big black trash bag in my car and drove toward 635 West Airport Road.
Ha! Ha ha! Ha, ha, ha-ha-ha! That was obviously the AC people’s idea of a little joke, because Airport Road ends at number 535. I kid you not. The road stops, and there is a warehouse squatting there, right in front of my car.
I called the police desk lady once more. And said, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I am having a little trouble finding the shelter, because there is no more road here.” (I refrained form saying any of the multitude of bad words in my head.) She said that I needed to drive off the road onto the gravel track, and follow it around the curve until I found a building. Oh, of COURSE. And then she said, “Who are you?” And I told her. Then she asked me to hold on, because she had to radio over to the AC guy to let him know I was still coming. Because (due to the total lack of roadway) it was now 4:04. I thanked her again. Because, hello? That is who I am.
I stuttered along the gravel track, bouncing and dodging large holes, until I saw a small industrial cinderblock building. There was an “open” sign in the window. Joy. I picked up my checkbook (remember checkbooks?) and my plastic trash bag and walked inside. Where the smell almost knocked me over. The smell of old, and rank, and filth and illness and many, many dogs. All of whom wanted to greet me through the solid, windowless wall separating us. I had to use my Big Voice to be heard by the girl behind the counter. (She didn’t seem bothered by the smell, by the way. I think it was the major hurdle for getting a job there. “Does that smell bother you?” “What smell?” “You’re hired.”)
She had me fill out paperwork and leave a $35 deposit, which will be returned to me if I get the cage back to them within the next ten days. I asked her, what if I don’t catch it within ten days? Do I become the proud owner of an empty skunk cage? She looked surprised, as if nobody had ever asked her that question before. I took that as a good sign. She also assured me that when I catch the little guy, I can just call the office and someone will come pick up the caged skunk. I wept with relief. Then I asked how to bait it. Again, she looked surprised, as if nobody had ever asked her that question before, either. I stopped taking that as a good sign and started wondering if she had actually been interviewed for her job at all. “We could google it,” she said. TRANSLATION: Lady, you can google it when you get out of here.
She fiddled around with the cage until she figured out how to work it, and then handed it to me. All 30 by 18 by 12 inches of rusty metal. With a grated end. For peering at my prize, no doubt. Which, if all goes well, will be the TAIL END OF A SKUNK.
I ran outside to my car. I breathed. A lot of good air. I brought the cage home, listening to the metal creak and slam as I dodged the man-sized potholes in the gravel road. I googled “bait skunk trap” and found a multitude of disgusting suggestions. I opted for the tuna-peanut butter-berry combination.
Which has not worked as of this moment. (Yes. I just went to the window and checked again.) But I don’t know whether to blame the skunkless state of the trap on the bait choice, or on the five new inches of snow on the lawn.
The thing obviously has some kind of skunky brain if it knows that the right thing to do on a late April day with five inches of snow (and counting) is cut your losses and stay in bed all day.
I’ll keep you all informed as to the latest developments. Don’t worry. As if there was any avoiding it now.