Saving a hyper pet skunk
I wrote this about Sage almost two years before he passed, so it is written in present tense. A reflection of life with Sage, who at the age of one, was given the nickname Hyper Skunk by Skunk Haven’s Deb Cipriani when they met at a pet skunk picnic in Indiana. Sage is one of my pet angels.
The hyper-skunk who lives with us spurs me to a dead run weekly.
I go out to dead-head flowers on the porch. See a tail disappear into the woods. Oh man. Realize I left the door open. Gads! Slam the door in case he is inside. No time to check. Charge through the poison ivy. But those blackberry briars are worse by far. Come home with not one skunk. I know. Who would want to but us skunk lovers? And there he is, Hyper Skunk, pacing inside the screen door. I’m bloody, sweaty. The heart is tested and good though. No spurprise the way he keeps me hopping.
Pet skunk flattened
Wanted to leave home one day – appointment you see. No skunk to lock in his room and keep out of trouble. Put on fifteen miles indoors. After an hour searching non-stop, I look over the side of the basement half-door. Hyper-Skunk is clinging to the fourth step down, flattened like road kill from fear of heights. For the first time in five years he went through the cat door. His worse nightmare akin to Alice’s rabbit hole.
We tried that since. Got so excited he gleefully ran stomping across the kitchen and down the rabbit hole. I would have raced over but he popped back out. I can imagine his mid-air spin.
The one time he almost killed me off and destroyed my new spinal adjustment was when we were working on the house years ago. He actually did go down a rabbit hole. I was working in the office and heard this scuffling on metal like he was hanging by his neck. Raced into the hall – oh, yes, that was a day I weighed way too much to ‘race’ anywhere.
Hyper Skunk scuffle sounds were everywhere. What in the world?
In the living room I realized he pulled off a vent cover. Down the hole he squeezed and was now running through the heat ducts. This was life and death. One vent was not yet attached to the sub-floor. If he tried to go out that vent he would fall fifteen feet onto concrete.
I was flat on my stomach a dozen times trying to get him out, one vent to the next. I heard him scratching at the vent not attached. I dove onto the floor, grabbing him by the scruff and pulling.
I couldn’t let go or he would die. I pulled and stretched and pulled.
It was like giving birth.
Until out of a tiny hole popped a twelveteen-pound skunk.
‘Poor baby,’ I soothed him. He wanted a hug then down.
Never said I was the smartest turnip. I put him down.
Hyper-Skunk ran back to the first vent and stomped at me before diving into the hole again. Poor skunk tail. I almost popped it off stopping him.
That night the vent covers were screwed to the floor.
Today I write….
Life with Sage was interesting. He was hyper hyper hell on wheels and super sweet. He used to take power naps instead of snuggling in…. fifty seconds and those brown eyes would pop open and he was off to the next turmoil. Dishwasher. Refrigerator. Making ladders out of kitchen drawers. That was to get him onto the counter. Picking up the 130-pound Newfoundland to see if dog food was beneath. Digging out the back door, chasing the ancient cranky cat. Swiping a head of cabbage, tearing up the holiday tree and stringing lights in a completely new design, on the floor.
The sweetest and most intelligent thing he ever did was when he was trying to win the hearts of his skunk elders when he first came to live with us.
Sequoia and Jeronimo hated him. Despised him. Wanted to kill him but knew Mama would not approve. The large males camped beneath the highboy on their blanket, planning his accidental demise. They did not yet know I could read minds.
Sage came from a ferret rescue that thought he was fat. So he needed a lot of extra tiny meals at first since he had been starving. Come to think, maybe that was why the elder skunk males hated him so much, they wanted all the extra meals too. Oh well.
A few days with us, Sage took his last chunk of food to the elders. He scooted backward through kitchen and through living room to drag a hunk of zucchini to set before the majesties. They screamed and stomped. They didn’t want anything from the punk. What did not help was their dislike for raw zucchini. But Sage did not like any zucchini. Joke on them. Fortunately he was fast because they were after him before I stopped laughing to save him that day. He just scampered off to the next turmoil, quick as he could create one.
Essa Adams is a writer and the publisher of ESSA Books. One novel she wrote with three pet skunks throughout is A Breath Floats By.