As skunk season returns, I begin to wrinkle my nose and fret

Stay away from my dog, pretty please. (From

Stay away from my dog, pretty please. (From

As soon as I opened the back door to let Ellie B out to the backyard to do her morning thing, the scent hit me.

Faint, this time.

But as distinct in my mind as a slap to the face.

Skunks are back in my Syracuse city neighborhood. Or maybe a skunk, singular. I surely do not want to find out which it is.

According to the New York State Department of Conservation site, the smelly offender is a striped skunk. The site says they usually make themselves known around these parts in early fall, “because skunks search for cubbyholes to spend the winter.”

Not in my backyard. Please, no. Not with an eager pet as curious as our dear Ellie B, aka Dogamous Pyle. She’s the one who will spend hours trying to spot the woodchuck who likes to hide under our shed. I figure the woodchuck burrows its way in.

My fervent hope nevertheless is that the new fence we had put up around our Eastwood backyard will be sufficient enough to keep said skunk(s) away from the dog.

We had a problem, you see, with the old fence, the one with sporadic but sometimes big-enough gaps from bottom to ground that lined the place when we moved in. Previous owners had hammered wooden lattice in attempt to close ranks. Our previous dog, the beloved Lissa, didn’t try to use the space to escape. However, she suffered greatly when the skunk(s) found a way in.

Lissa got sprayed, directly in the face.

We all paid the price as the poor dog pinballed around the house before we could dump her in the tub and get to the hideous stink. Many baths in Nature’s Miracle later … well, only time heals all wounds, including the skunk smell. Laundering and Fabreze sprayings — how I hate that word in this context — help, in increments. There are no end to the home remedies, from tomato juice and vinegar and on down the line.

But if your dog got sprayed, you’ll know it, your neighbors will know it, your co-workers will know it. The morning of the Lissa incident, I got sent home from the big daily despite a long shower and clean clothes.

Our former escape artist, leashed for her walk.

Our former escape artist, leashed for her walk.

When we adopted Ellie B at the Paws for the Cause event at Driver’s Village a couple of years ago, the puppy went to town on the latticework at the bottom of the fence. She escaped. My dear wife Karen and I chased her around the neighborhood. Karen put up chicken wire at the bottom of the fence. Ellie B pulled it off and escaped. We ran. I hammered tomato plant stakes into the gaps. She wiggled aroound and escaped. She eluded us on our block. Gone. We got in our cars, and Karen found her all the way toward James Street, heading for the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot. Fortunately, Ellie B decided to follow a jogger up North Midler, all the way into his fenced yard. He closed the gate and we had her.

We put in that new fence. No further chases through Eastwood. Knock on wood.

So it’s skunk season. “This delicate member of the weasel family has a potent musk that often overshadows the beauty of its glossy and durable fur,” says the DEC site.

No kidding.

Please stay out of our yard. Pretty please stay away from Ellie B.

May the stink remain faint in the breeze.

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