You could feel the low-hanging sky as the dew clung to the grass on that July morning, as soon as you walked outside. I like to walk the yard soon after sunup, inspecting the flowers and our little vegetable garden. This particular morning, I noticed an animal taking an early-morning swim in our pool. A close look revealed a little black and white creature that looked more like a wet kitty than a skunk. Unfortunately, it was the latter. He had somehow managed to get down the stairs into the pool, no doubt drawn by the cool water. I’m used to fishing out chipmunks, squirrels, frogs and the occasional snake but this one caused me to hesitate. Anyway, this guy was pretty active and paddling like an Olympic swimmer, apparently enjoying his time in the cool water.
This was the first time for this experience, so I pondered my next step. I decided to call Animal Control. The Town switchboard sent me directly to the AC Officer at home. This guy is an elected official in our Town.
The conversation goes something like this:
The Guy: “Hello?”
Me: “Is this Animal Control?”
The Guy: “Yes”
Me: “I have a skunk in my pool. Can you capture him for me?”
The Guy: “No”
Me: “No? I thought you were the Animal Control Officer?”
The Guy: “I don’t do skunks.”
Me: “Are you kidding? Aren’t skunks animals?”
The Guy: “I only do dogs.”
Me: “Well, that’s dandy. Why don’t you call yourself “Dog Catcher” instead of Animal Control?” (I admit that’s rhetorical but the sarcasm weed was beginning to grow)
The Guy: “Whatever. I’m not getting the skunk out of your pool.”
Me: (resigning myself to the facts that this guy and my tax dollars were useless for this one) “Any idea who I can call?”
The Guy: “Maybe you can call Cooperative Extension.”
Me: “For what? Are they going to tell me how to raise skunks in my garden or how to fertilize them? Thanks anyway.”
I did call Cooperative Extension and they were nice but didn’t know what to do either. By this time, my friend and neighbor, who happened to be a police Captain, had come over to see what’s going on with the pool. As we stood there watching the skunk do the dog-paddle, I heard a car pull up to the front of the house. I walked around the garage to the driveway and getting out if his car is a NYS Trooper.
I jokingly ask him if he’s here about the skunk. He replies “Yes sir”. I looked at him in disbelief as we both chuckeld uncomfortably. As we walked around the yard to the pool I asked him who he angered enough to be on skunk-patrol duty. He wasn’t amused and said that they had a call from the Town Office and had to respond. Now, there we are: two sworn officers and me, staring at the pool and our black and white friend, who doesn’t seem to be tiring at all. He’s the only one who seems to be enjoying himself, at this point.
I ask the Trooper rather casually “You’re not planning on shooting him, are you?” I can, if you like”, he retorts with a little sarcasm in his voice. I told him that I could have done that but considered the possible damage to the pool liner and thought the better.
After about half and hour and plenty of skunk jokes, the cops leave and I go in for another cup of coffee. I decide to call the pool company.
Pool guy: Hello?
Me: I have a skunk in my pool
Pool guy: Is this a riddle?
Me: I’m not kidding. Any idea what to do to get him out?
Pool guy: Why don’t you drown him with the pool skimmer?
(Long uncomfortable pause)
Me: Really? The only thing that I find less pleasant right now than a skunk in my pool would be having a dead skunk in my pool. Anyway, what happens if he releases his “defensive systems” during he process?
Pool guy: I can see where that might be undesirable.
Me: You think? Thanks anyway.
After hanging up the phone and swollowing enough coffee to set my nerves on edge, I walk out to the pool and find that Elvis has left the building. Apparently, the skunk decided that he had enough excersize for the morning and climbed the stairs. He was no where in sight.
I call the pool guy back.
Pool guy: Hello
Me: This is the guy with the skunk in his pool again. He left peacefully. Should I be concerned about the condition of the pool?
Pool guy: If would be a good idea to treat the pool before using it, in case he had fouled the water.
Me: Wonderful. What do I need?
Pool guy: I don’t know. Here’s the phone number of the chemical distributor. Their technicians can probably tell you what you need.
Well, I called and they had me add enough chlorine to sanitize a small Adirondack Lake, rendering it unusable for the next ten days.
How do we prevent this from happening again? We’ve posted a sign declaring the pool a “Skunk Free Zone”.