Around home, besides the plethora of bootprints, there are dog (canine accompanying bootprint); coyote (canine not accompanying bootprint!); squirrel & hare a-plenty, to my dog’s delight; magpie, chickadee and other small seed-eaters; occasional mouse; and, least commonly, so most interestingly, striped skunk.
I am still surprised when the tracks lead boldly right up a front walk, though of course, near the human-dens are where the goods are, and the scavenger-types’ reason for frequenting the area.
Last week we had a light snowfall, which made a perfect blank canvass for spying on the abundant nightlife (of the furry variety) in the neighbourhood. A night-time skunk prowler came from the central park, trotted right up a neighbour’s front walk, and came out the back into the alley. My new teacher Mark* told me that skunks — in open spaces and slow to a walk to check things out under cover, which is just what this fellow had done.
That same morning a track of a nighttime cat came up our front walk, followed along between our front snowbank and house, into the backyard. The next morning, a lone canine print followed the same path up the walk and along the snowbank, but walking over the top of the bank instead of stealthily behind it – right outside the window where I slept, oblivious to the nighttime highway the front yard had become.
*Elbroch, Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species
I’ll never forget the time, when we had Rocko the big collie, and we came home late from shopping. After bringing in almost everything, I fed the dog and started supper. Then I dashed out the door, launching off the step to get something from the truck and surprised a skunk on the step, finishing the dog’s dinner! We were both pretty surprised. I stood stock still and stared, wondering how to get back in the house. The skunk took matters into his own hands and wobbled off – the fastest I ever saw a skunk move – and he didn’t spray me! Maybe he was too surprised. After that I always made sure to check the dog’s dish after feeding him.