Barking at Skunks


2014-09-09 – My dog Lefty barks at squirrels. Constantly.

He has his eyes on the trees anyway. He was born to a family of dogs that chased Canada geese for a living. In Canada. (Yes, he is an immigrant, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, from el Norte Norte.) He’s always watching the sky and the trees. (Except when he’s sniffing the ground or licking himself.)

So Lefty barks at squirrels. A lot.

That means that I notice the squirrels, too, when we’re out on walks in the park. That means that I see all the offensive behavior that these animals exhibit. Steeling morsels of food from the trash. Scurrying up trees. Chasing each other round and round for who knows what. And that means that I’ve lately been noticing a new type of squirrel in the neighborhood. Black Squirrels.

I’m not sure that Lefty notices the difference.

The reason I say that is that Lefty is pretty indiscriminate about his barking. He barks at squirrels. He barks at geese. Lately he’s been barking and flocks of sparrows that take wing when they hear him. He barks at other dogs. He barks at bicycles. He barks at cars.

And he barks at skunks.

Yes, skunks. Skunks came into the neighborhood several years ago and are seen (hopefully, rather than smelled) after dusk  or before dawn, moseying along with little care for a barking dog. They don’t flee. They just nonchalantly lift their tails. Speculation is that skunks arrived when our local crow population succumbed to West Nile disease. The bunny population exploded around the same time. Apparently, crows eat baby bunnies and skunks.

You have to keep a lookout for skunks when you walk Lefty in the dark. Bunnies and squirrels were never a problem. Their fur is light and they move faster than skunks (at least the bunnies do), so you see them right away. Black squirrels are another story. They are just a shadowy creature in the grass, easy to confuse with a skunk. To make matters worse, they wave their tails in the air when they are crawling around on the ground. It’s hard to tell them apart in the dark.

And Lefty barks at all of them.

During the day, it’s not a problem. During the day, the skunks are in hiding—apparently. You just don’t see them. But the bunnies and both types of squirrels are out night or day.

Once in a while you still see crows. But they are not doing their job.

* * *

On October 1 we will be celebrating one day for truth. It’s called Diogenes Day. Let your friends know. Find out more info by clicking the Diogenes Day link at the top of my blog page.

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