And so one night, when the back yard erupted into frantic barking in stereo, my annoyance was tinged with concern. Tipper (the one who looks like a little fox) barks at every bug and shadow, but Aggie is generally pretty quiet, so there had to be something unusual out there. I opened the back door to make sure the noisy beasts were all right. The clamor seemed to come from the right rear corner of the yard.
“Tipper? Aggie? Inside — and be quiet!” The words were no sooner out of my mouth than Aggie rocketed past me into the house. Not so her little buddy. Tipper got louder, if anything; she was not backing down.
About this time, I caught a strong whiff of skunk out there. Turning, I saw Aggie rubbing her face along the carpet in the living room in long and rather desperate strokes. Oh, great — she got sprayed. Noxious vapors began to fill the room so we opened all the windows on the front (non-skunk) side of the house, even though it was kind of chilly. Better to freeze and breathe than to be cozily cooped up with eau de skunk.
Tipper was still outside defending the homestead with shrill barks that seemed to say, “BRING IT ON!!” Braving the murky ambiance, I went out there and ordered her in. She finally went. Man, she reeked. I suppose Mr. Skunk trundled off and escaped the yard the same way he got in, under the fence.
Long story short, it took a half cup of tomato juice and a bath to get Aggie freshened up. I almost gave up on Tipper after two baths and a tomato-juice scrubbing that left her furry face all spiked up every which way.
Even though Aggie picked up some stink, she at least showed a bit of discretion by backing off from an impossible situation as soon as she could. Tipper, on the other hand, having no idea what she was dealing with, threw herself into the fray with unwavering determination. The thing is, she got hosed for nothing. If the pups had simply left the skunk alone, or contented themselves with barking at it, it would have left quietly. But no, they had to corner the harmless little thing, and we all had to deal with the consequences.
I think of Tipper sometimes when I read email spam, letters to the editor, or online forum arguments. It’s so easy to be drawn offside by some vague threat or imagined insult, and jump into a totally unnecessary or misguided fight. For my part, I hope I can remember to ask questions and make sure I understand the facts, rather than hastily judging other people. I think that would keep the atmosphere much more pleasant.
Thanks for reading!