Flower and other critters

MaryBeth VanderMeulen

5/22/20212 min read

One of the animals I had the privilege of learning about was a skunk we named "Flower". There were a pair of mountain men who lived just outside of my community and they loved animals. So they were always rescuing them. That included a pair of skunks who ended up living under their house.

The two were a mating pair and they had some kits that these fellows rescued. They found homes for all the females. I decided to take the one male in the litter. Flower had been de-scented when I got him and I did not ask them how they did it. I did not want to know. But it was one less thing to worry about.

My husband and I had rescued a number of critters ourselves and Flower fit right in. The trick was to allow each of them their space and time with us without putting two in the same room at the same time that might see each other as prey. It all worked rather well. The one surprise was to see how well he and the cat got along.

The two of them used to fall asleep in front of the wood stove and so help me, the skunk slept on his back with his feet in the air looking for all the world like 'road kill'. It was a sight to see. The cat was also smart enough to give Flower his space but somehow seemed to understand him.

Sometimes I would take him outside while I did my yard work. He would play hide and seek with me by hiding behind something and poking his head out to see if I was coming. When discovered, he would leap up and skitter backwards several feet and then run off to a new hiding spot. It was great fun.

When I laid down on the couch to watch TV, he would ask up and I would scoop him up with my hand while he got comfy on my chest. Then he would sleep for a bit and seemed so comfortable. Occasionally I would use that time to clip his front nails one at a time and as he woke up I would act surprised. It was a way to hide the fact I was cutting his nails, just enough to take out the snags. It became a game.

That is how I found out that skunks have a sense of humor like a lot of other animals. They also like to create games. Dogs do that too and the idea is to understand that is what they are doing and to participate. As a writer, it made me want to share stories that make us want to know more about these beautiful animals. If we start to educate the little ones out there about loving animals and the environment, they too will share this love.