Have you ever lived with a polecat? No, I am not referring to some nefarious relative who never bathes and is constantly trying to borrow money for beer and cigarettes. I mean a little furry black animal with white stripes and a big fluffy tail and a tendency to stink things up.
When my parents were saving money to finance our home in Hull, we lived in a rundown rural house with no plumbing and an old fireplace. The house was truly bad, with holes in the floor and other places. This skunk had little problem finding a way inside, and inside he came on a regular basis. He usually went to the kitchen to search for bread crumbs but was likely to appear anywhere in the house. One night, I woke up to find him strolling casually across the foot of my bed.
Now there is one key rule about living with a wild skunk. He is allowed to go anywhere he wishes! Trying to chase him away would have had very unpleasant results.
We were aware of his potential because of his encounter with dogs in the back yard one night. Fortunately, no one but the dogs were hit with his toxic spray, but the odor in the yard lasted for several days. So we were very careful to not give him cause for alarm when we found him in the house.
Naturally, we tried to block the holes in the floor and around the fireplace, but we never found the one he was using. So we had almost nightly visits from him. I suspect that he was an older animal who was having problems finding food in the wild, and we were just messy enough to provide him with a convenient source of food.
The skunk lived with us for most of the summer, until we found his body behind the seats in the outhouse. He appeared to have died of natural causes.
Living with polecats, whether they are little fuzzy animals or trashy relatives, takes a great deal of patience. You can’t chase them away without causing a big stink. But you do not want to encourage them to stay if they are willing to leave. And once they are gone, you find yourself missing the adventure of having them around. You can learn a lot from them, especially things of a negative nature. And you can learn a lot about yourself, such as your ability to deal with adversity.
I do not urge you to invite a polecat into your home. But if he shows up anyway, be careful and you can live with him for a while.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
It is so funny that you would write this story.
My children and I have had somewhat of the same situation. The skunk is not in the house, thank goodness - but we are from the city and never really saw a skunk up close until recently. We have several dogs and I am not able to run my air condition because of finances, so we have fans in the windows to help cool things down, especially at night. However, just the other day - one of the dogs evidently ticked the skunk off and the skunk backed right up to my window.....where the fan was blowing and he sprayed. OH MY GOODNESS! The smell is STILL all around and it's like once the smell is in your nose, it ain't coming out for a while. It's funny because if we hear the dogs bark AT ALL, we all jump up to close our windows.
Thank you for your story, I didn't know they were called polecats. Our friends in the city will think we are "perty" smart out'n here sayin words like thet'.
We ourselves have had the not so pleasure of these hideous things invading our property. ITs like they never come out until you go to bed, with the window open and wham the smell brings you out of the deepest sleep...Once i opened the back door to sweep and there was one just walking around not scared at all and my daughter who is now 10 but was 3 at the time said here kitty kitty, it was so funny....
Please be aware that a skunk, or any other wild animal, that is not afraid of you may very well have rabies! I shudder to think of your three-year-old being allowed to approach such a critter. The "kitty, kitty" thing is cute, though.