Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's all in the way you do things.

My co-worker asked how she could help me out. I was running about an hour or so behind so her offer was like a fulfilled wish. Cleaning the little skunks was the next big chore I has so I asked if she would mind doing that.

I continue feeding the animals outside and returned inside to the overwhelming smell of skunk. Someone had startled one. Asking around, I found out that the co-worker that was cleaning the skunks had indeed startled one and didn't want to return to the room. I quickly found her and traded chores with her. There was no reason for her to do something she couldn't stomach.

She told me the baby was in the bucket near his crate. When I walked into the room and saw which crate she had been cleaning, I knew right away which little one had 'skunked' the room. Bless his heart--he was the one I knew as 'Cranky' as he was never really happy. Even as an infant he would find something to complain about--the person feeding him was late, his bedding wasn't soft enough, it was too bright in the room... whatever. As he got older, his fur began to fall out. Not all over, just around his face and hands. We tried everything we could think of to remedy the situation from homeopathics to mainstream medicines. The baldness subsided but in the in-between state of his fur re-growing, his attitude remained less than satisfied.

I lifted the towel that covered the bucket and he immediately went on the defensive, tail raised, locked and loaded. I calmly reminded him in a soothing tone that it was me and I was so sorry he was startled. Gently reaching in and picking him up, I asked what had happened. Almost nose to nose, he began his story. Small little grunts and squeaks, a little shaking, and his story came to light. He had been startled as a stranger's hand had picked him up at his middle and as he didn't know what was about to happen, he got scared and it was an accident. He quieted with scratches to his bare face and ears. His bedding was fresh and he was gently placed back in his crate.

There is a certain knowledge that comes from caretaking animals from infancy and certain fears are relieved. Some would bluster that there is no way I could know what had made him spray. My response is how can you not know how a being thinks when you are with them almost every day, all day long? I would counter that it would be a sad situation for the animals if you didn't.

These guys are now outside acclimating to the ever changing Texas weather they will soon be released into. Those of us that took care of them will be forgotten, the innate wildness they posess will come forward, and they will live their lives as wild things. As it should be.