Skunked on June 12th

On the evening of June 12th, just after watching that night’s episode of Game of Thrones, my partner and I commented on how lucky we were that the air conditioner was working perfectly. Looking at the unit when we bought the house a few months earlier, we thought for sure that it wouldn’t even turn on.

Within five minutes of that conversation, the air began to smell like burnt rubber

Though we initially feared we had cursed ourselves, a thorough search of both the interior and exterior of the house proved that the source of the unpleasant odor was Cooper Blue, our faithful Sheltie. A quick Google search of “Why does my dog smell like burnt rubber” revealed that we had been the victim of a skunk.

Cooper must have been quick enough to avoid a direct spray that night (and the following night and the following Monday night), but a lot of time was spent giving him late night baths. The incidents were stressful, I lost a lot of sleep, and I began to treat the yard like a military zone. Skunks avoid lights, so I’ve added landscape lights and kept the deck light on overnight. Naturally, they avoid their natural predators, so I placed blinking red LED lights around the fence (they are supposed to resemble the eyes of hungry hunters). I have sprinkled both animal repellant pellets and fox urine all around the perimeter. Additional chicken wire fencing has been added alongside the fence where a small critter could possibly get in underneath.

All this, and I still saw one squeezing through the front fence last night as I pulled up to the house.

I began to wonder why the odorous animal was causing me such anxiety. They are not a new plague upon this planet, and people and canines deal with them on a regular basis. Yet, on June 12, I became obsessed with protecting our home against them. It dawned on me that it may have been my own reaction to the tragic event in Orlando that occurred earlier that day.

Though I was 1,200 miles away from that nightclub, my sense of security was shaken. I felt vulnerable, and I was concerned over the safety of myself, my partner, and my friends. Seeing the responses from particular politicians and, even more disconcerting, everyday US citizens did not quell my fears in the least.

I have my opinions on gun rights/control, religion, government policies and responsibilities, mental health issues, immigration, and all the other discussions that have cropped up (again) since June 12th. However, I keep thinking that the evil behind the event (and others like yesterday’s bombing in Istanbul) are the things of stories. I should only have to worry about the nightmares I’ll get from reading about Hannibal Lecter, Kevin (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Randall Flagg (The Stand), or Sauron, much less a hungry pack of dinosaurs – these characters exist to entertain and serve as warnings. I should not have to actually worry about being eaten, murdered, or subjugated. No one should. Florida should be afraid of alligators, which are just hungry and not evil, not going out for a night on the town.

The skunk (or skunks) are still around. I’ll continue to fight them, but I have ceased misplacing any feelings or anxiety on them. I found comfort and safety in my partner, family, and friends. I ran a 5k at the Proud to Run race in Chicago last weekend, supporting both the LGBT community and runners. I reminded myself that as much as the world is cruel and uncaring, it is also wondrous and loving.