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It's best to leave some things alone

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have a small wood working shop in the barn where I turn perfectly good boards into sawdust and scrap lumber. This is not all bad, since I find it entertaining, and bluebird houses are made from the scraps. We end up with a lot of bluebird houses.

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The door to the shop slides on a track and is quite heavy. Occasionally, on exit, it will not close completely when given a hurried push. The other evening, I went to the shop to grab a hammer and was greeted with the unmistakable odor of a skunk. Being primarily nocturnal animals, I knew he was awake, but did not know if he had recently left or was just getting ready to leave. The aroma was strong enough, I could not tell for sure

I thought about my options, of which there were several. I could close the door, hoping he was gone, and skip finding the hammer in case he wasn't. I could leave the door open, grab the hammer, and hope he would leave when given the opportunity. I could send the mighty Cody dog in, perchance to keep the skunk at bay, while I got the hammer and beat a hasty retreat. He would more than likely not start a fight with the skunk, and might not even get sprayed. One other option was to go get Dulce, the poodle and solve the problem once and for all. When she got done, there would no longer be a skunk living, especially not in my shop. The really big problem with this would be, Dulce is a house dog, and I am sure she would bring her trophy to me. Both of us would have to find a comfortable place in the barn for a week or two. I have been faced with this before.

It is impossible to run faster than a proud dog showing their master the fine work they have done. Hooch was a great companion dog. He was a giant slobbering beast, but he liked me and looked good riding in the back of a truck.

He and I were at the farm one day checking fences. As I walked along, replacing a clip or tightening a wire, Hooch would scout ahead for anything that might cause harm to his master and needed to be run off or killed on the spot. I was wiring a loose post when I heard a growl and the unmistakable snap as Hooch's jaws closed like a bear trap. I did not think much of it at the time, since he protected me mostly from field mice or chipmunks. As usual, he came bounding toward me to show what good work he had done. He was fairly close before I noticed he was carrying the limp body of an adult skunk.

My first impulse was to run, but like being attacked by a grizzly, I knew that would not work. I stood my ground and yelled, "Sit!" Hooch knew this was no time to sit. He had a skunk to show me. I tried, "Halt!" I had taught him a few words in German. One never knows when that might come in handy. Several commands were rapidly shouted in German. This was not the time it was handy. He was almost to me when I turned and ran. A large happy dog carrying a limp, leaky skunk can pretty much cover the person running next to them with the unbelievably concentrated skunk cologne. It was not a good thing.

I thought back on this event and decided my best option was to leave the shop door open a bit so the skunk could come and go at will. I would keep the dogs out of the mix and get my hammer when the skunk leaves on its own.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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