Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2018 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Dead Skunk Mystery

This morning, the odor of skunk was evident near the dog kennel, but the odor wasn't very strong. Upon inspection, however, my husband noticed a skunk corpse in the kennel. How did it get there?

Could a skunk climb the 5 foot-high chain-link fence that surrounds the kennel? Or did it come through the attached “dog stall” (which has walls over 5 feet high)? Or did it climb the 6-foot wall from the adjoining horse shed?

Can skunks climb high wooden walls? Can they climb chain link fences?

Here are some other observations about the, uh, crime scene:
  • If the skunk had come through the dog-stall last night, the stall should have smelled like skunk. It didn't. Plus four dogs—border collie, catahoula, beagle, and mixed retriever—sleep in that stall. The kill would have been made there and the dogs would have smelled strongly of skunk.
  • If the skunk had climbed in from the horse shed (6-foot climb), the horse shed should have smelled. It didn't. Plus Emma the mixed sheltie, who sleeps in the doghouse beside the shed and who doesn't miss much, should have made the kill inside her small kennel. Long-haired Emma didn't smell of skunk. Plus, the body was in the main kennel.
  • I’ve had dogs kill skunks before while we were out on the farm. I know it takes a large can of tomato juice per dog to lessen the smell. None of the five dogs smelled of skunk this morning.
  • In fact, none of the (usually highly competitive) dogs showed any interest in the skunk whatsoever.
  • I’ve seen a couple of these dogs kill groundhogs, moles and mice before. They always bite the back of the neck. I doubt they’d vary much for a skunk. The wounds on the skunk were not at the back of the neck where they would have been if the dogs had made a kill. There were no puncture wounds on the skunk in evidence.
  • However, two scrape-type wounds (over an inch wide by two inches or more long) were on the skunk's right side—about 6 or 7 inches apart.
  • The wounded side of the skunk was muddy from the wet clay in the kennel. The left side and the tail were clean. The skunk obviously hadn't been dragged around by the dogs.
  • Rigor mortis had already set in. The skunk had been dead for a while.
So—how did the skunk get in the kennel? Might it have been a (gasp!) outside job? Could it have been done by the same local rednecks who in the past have left various mutilated deer parts by our “No Hunting” signs down the road at the farm? who have left deer carcasses hanging on our barbed wire fence before? who once even left a deer head in our farm mailbox over a decade ago?

(Note: Senator George Allen, who has received so much press lately for a deer head he once left in someone’s mailbox, is not among our local rednecks. At least, I don’t think he is.)


Blogger CountryDew said...

That is rather unnerving. I think I would be very upset about that!

4:42 PM  

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