(Warning: Long post – book chapter length – because I’ve dealt with several dog-skunk incidents over the years, and because the stories are too funny – after the fact – to keep to myself.)
September 2006 – Maia and Meadow at the Flying U Ranch, British Columbia
The Flying U Ranch is a dude ranch that welcomes well-behaved dogs. In addition to being dog-friendly, the other huge appeal of this remote resort is that you’re allowed to ride unguided on 60,000 acres of trails winding through meadows and forests. I had already visited several times over the preceding years, with various friends and always with my two female Malamutes, Maia and Meadow. The girls loved trotting next to the horses on all-day trail rides. On my second visit to the ranch I was matched with Louis, a not-too-tall brown horse with black mane and tail. I fell in love with him – his calm, easy demeanor; smooth gaits with a willingness to lope and gallop; good at opening fence gates without me having to dismount – and he seemed intrigued by the girls, especially Meadow and her huge fluffy tail. If Meadow was in the lead as we walked along a single-track trail and stopped to sniff something, Louis would reach his nose down and blow on her tail or gently nudge her to encourage her to keep moving. (It worked.) I knew Louis was my guy when, saddling up at the barn before a morning’s ride, Maia – following her nose close to the ground and oblivious to all else – inadvertently walked right underneath him. I held my breath, but Louis didn’t mind. Every visit thereafter, I requested Louis.
(Photos: Louis during a lunch break; the girls trotting alongside new friends in 2003; Meadow napping on the Gore-Tex bed cover after a day on the trails; the girls showing Louis and me the way, 2003; Kelly (left), friend Suzanne (middle), me on Louis (right) and Maia (Meadow barely visible to the right) during a visit to the ranch in 2004; the girls at the ranch one morning in 2003.)
The 2006 visit included Maia and Meadow and two friends, Kelly and Linda. Kelly and I have been friends since seventh grade, and shared a love of horseback riding. It was Kelly who introduced me to the Flying U a few years earlier. Being late in the season, there were only a handful of other guests – another group of three women, and a father and his young daughter – and minimal staff.
Kelly, the girls and I were in one cabin, Linda in one next door. Each cabin has two full-size beds, a wood-burning stove, pegs for hanging coats and little else. Toilets and showers are in a separate building nearby. I bring a custom-made blanket of Gore-Tex with fabric baking that I put over the bed so that if either dog jumps on it (they’re allowed on the bed at home), the linen stays clean and dry. Dogs get pretty dirty at the dude ranch.
The ranch allows some young horses to wander through the area where the cabins, store, lodge and other buildings are. It’s a way of getting them used to people and dogs. One of the horses during our visit was a curious and playful young foal intrigued with Meadow; the two of them had a few close and giddy nose-to-nose greetings. The girls didn’t like the foal trying to enter our cabin, though.
Typically, after a day of riding, the girls, tired, would hang out near our cabin. During meals, I either left them inside the cabin or used long leads to tie them to the porch so that they wouldn’t wander out to the road or bother anyone. Because of wildlife, if they wanted to be outside at night, I attached them to the leads.
Our first night, around midnight, I heard the girls strain at their leads on the porch. Just before this, I’d farted. As I lifted the covers to go check on the girls, I smelled something horrible. Thinking it was my fart (Must have been something I ate at dinner, I remember thinking), then went out to see what had the girls so excited. Peering into the dark, I assumed it was the wandering horses. I brought the girls back in with me so we could all get some sleep. The smell was still pretty bad inside the cabin. Kelly had awakened and as I stepped inside, she asked, groggily, “Skunk?” I mumbled something in reply, unwilling to admit that my fart was the source of the bad smell. It didn’t dissipate, as farts generally do. We all fell back to sleep. Next morning, we could still smell it a tiny bit. Embarrassed, I kept my mouth shut, then didn’t give it another thought.
Early on our second day, Maia kept going to one side of our cabin, cocking her head to listen as if there was a critter there. I investigated and could see where an animal of some sort had moved a rock aside and burrowed a small hole to get under the cabin. It was such a small entrance that when I heard something under there (as Maia had) I assumed it was a squirrel. I never connected that hole with the much larger one Sally (one of the ranch owners) had shown me under the main lodge/kitchen the day before when we checked in, warning me that a skunk had been seen there and to make sure my dogs didn’t get after it.
After breakfast, we collected our assigned horses and the girls joined me, Kelly and Linda for a long day of trail riding. We took sack lunches with us so that we could stay out until the mandatory return time of 4:00 pm without having to come back to the barn. After post-ride showers to get rid of the trail dust, we reconvened at our cabins. Each cabin has a picnic table with attached benches in front, and – because we were seasoned dude ranchers – we brought snacks and libations to tide us over until dinnertime at 6:00 pm. Kelly – who had driven up by herself in her vintage Mercedes two-door ragtop, parking next to our cabin – opened the driver’s side door of her car and turned on the stereo so we could have some tunes with our snacks. The girls were resting near the table, hoping we’d share. We went to the lodge for dinner, then returned to our cabins to enjoy our wine coolers before turning in. Kelly turned her car stereo back on.
We had just gotten comfortable when I heard a combined growl-scream from Meadow. Jumping up, I followed the noise to the side of our cabin. Both girls were backing away from that hole I’d noticed earlier. Meadow was pawing furiously at her face, blinking fast, while Maia jumped even farther back. Meadow was pissed in a way I’d never observed in my gentle wooly Malamute, snarling at the hole, unwilling to turn her back on it. Then the odor of skunk hit me like a wave. I yelled, swore, coughed and retreated as fast as I could. But, of course, it was too late. Skunk spray is powerful and effective, deterring any living creature as it disperses through the air as far as a mile away.
Meadow got the full brunt of the spray on her head and
chest, dripping wet. It was irritating her eyes. Maia, in her usual back-up
position behind Meadow on a critter chase, got a smaller amount on her chest.
Until that moment, I had no idea just how awful skunk odor is. Driving past a roadkill skunk is pretty bad. Fresh skunk spray is a hundred times more intense. Acrid, burning, sharp in the nostrils and just horrible. I put my hand over my nose and tried to breathe only through my mouth. The girls did their best to rub the spray off on the ground, on me, on anything handy. Meadow was agitated and upset, eager to get the spray off her face, while Maia seemed stunned and confused. I wanted to help them, but…I didn’t want to touch them.
Pandemonium broke out. I called the dogs away from the cabin. I didn’t want them too near me, they smelled so bad, but I also didn’t want them to get sprayed again. Someone ran to the ranch office, asking for help finding whatever it is one uses to wash skunk spray off of dogs. I didn’t know; I’d never dealt with this before, although I’d heard about tomato juice. One of the ranch owners found a “recipe” online with a list of ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap (to help lather the concoction into the dog’s fur). He combined them in a bucket, brought it to us, then left us to our own devices.
Our first priority was moving our stuff out of our now-uninhabitable cabin into one as far away as possible while it was still light out. Luckily most cabins were empty so we had our choice. That accomplished, we strategized about how to bathe two Malamutes who aren’t used to them, never swim, only wading up to their bellies if it’s really hot, and on general principle, hate baths. Since there was only one male guest at the ranch, we decided to take over the men’s side of the bathhouse. Why stink up the women’s side? I brought the girls into the bathhouse, on leashes because they balked, seeming to know nothing good was going to happen in there. Linda and I stripped down, completely naked, and each wrestled a dog into a shower stall, water running. Kelly, still clothed, handed us cups of the de-skunking concoction as needed. Neither dog had ever been in a shower. They both yowled pitifully, as if being murdered. Oowoooo! Linda and I were soaked, head to toe, gagging on the stench. I started laughing at how ridiculous we must look and sound, at the girls’ plaintive howls. What else could I do? The only alternative was to cry. Linda and Kelly joined me, a background chorus of laughter to the girls’ duet of howls. Shampoo and rinse, repeat, and repeat, wrestling a reluctant dog the entire time, the stink overwhelming at first, but better after each rinse. *
A normally fluffy Malamute, completely wet, looks skinny and pathetic; it’s a shock to see but also cause for more laughter.
As soon as the showers were turned off, the girls dashed outside and started shaking as much water off as possible. Water flew in arcs around them. I had a few dog towels with me, and did my best to dry them, but it was now dark and getting cold. We all needed to get inside our cabins. The girls still smelled pretty bad, but better. It was shaping up to be a long night. Kelly wisely stayed in Linda’s cabin. I put some wood in my cabin’s stove to provide some heat, hoping the girls would dry faster.
Both girls wanted to sleep outside that night. I wasn’t
too keen on the idea, worrying about yet another skunk encounter as well as
their ability to stay warm given their still-wet fur, but they insisted. I tied
them on their leads to the porch. Finally, around midnight, unable to sleep, I made
them come in. They both got up on my bed, leaving me just a sliver of space and
bringing wet skunk odor with them. Meadow, with her incredibly thick wooly
coat, was shivering, poor thing. I felt awful about the wet fur, but didn’t
have many options. I must have slept from sheer exhaustion, but not much. Meadow
was still damp in the morning, but quickly dried out after about an hour of
trotting alongside us as we rode that day.
Meadow kept wanting to go back to our initial cabin and kill that skunk. She was mad. She remained on-leash around the cabins for the rest of the stay.
Both girls had tried to alert me to the skunk under our cabin that first night, but I didn’t put all the clues – the hole leading under the cabin, the girls’ agitation in the night and the smell that I assumed was my fart – together in time to avoid the incident. My bad.
Kelly’s car couldn’t be dragged into the men’s shower and bathed. Even though Meadow and Maia did their best to block the skunk spray with their bodies, a good portion of it managed to get into the car through the open driver’s-side door. Kelly had a long drive home to Seattle ahead of her, and her car – interior carpet, leather seats, rag top – smelled really bad. Again, the ranch owner’s use of the internet came to the rescue: sprinkling coffee grounds in the carpet absorbed much of the stench, or at least made it smell more like coffee and less like skunk. Kelly made it home and immediately took her car to a detailer for a thorough cleaning and de-skunking.
I had a two-day, sixteen-hour drive home to Idaho with two very smelly dogs in the back to look forward to. I left the windows cracked throughout, not that I had much of a sense of smell left by this point. Near the end of the first day, I arrived at a small border crossing along the northeastern corner of Washington. As was my custom when crossing the U.S./Canadian border with the girls in the car, I rolled down the back driver’s-side window so they could be seen by and greet the border guard. It was 7:00 pm on a weekday. There were no cars ahead of me when I approached the guard station. With my passport and the girls’ rabies documents ready, I slowly pulled up while rolling down the windows. The girls put their heads out as the guard slowly ambled out of the station, asking if the dogs were friendly as he approached. I replied, “Yes! But you might not want to get too close; the dogs got skunked yesterday.” He took a step closer. The girls were eagerly hoping to make his acquaintance; they were friendly dogs and pretty irresistible under normal circumstances. While reaching a hand toward Meadow the guard inhaled, cried “Whoa!” and jumped back, waving his hand in front of his nose. Without another word he waved me through the border without looking at any of my paperwork, retreating to the sanctuary of his guard booth.
Now I know how to sneak something through customs.
Once home, I didn’t try bathing the girls again, although
I bought and tried some products that claimed to work at removing the smell
with a simple application. They didn’t. I mixed a small amount of the
de-skunking recipe and with a cloth washed Meadow’s face a couple of times to
try to decrease the smell. Maia’s fur, less thick, was less stinky. I’m sure
the girls were puzzled that I wasn’t too eager for their kisses and snuggles
for a couple weeks. Soon the odor diminished to something akin to walking into
a Starbucks – like strong coffee brewing – and after a month, was noticeable
only if the girls got wet.
*I have since learned that the de-skunking concoction should not be diluted with water, and the dog’s coat should be dry (except for the skunk oil) for the first application to be most effective. The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda break down the smelly thiols in the oily spray. Our mistake was to get the girls’ coats wet before applying the concoction.
Summer 2017 – Finn, in the Forest
Fast forward eleven years. Somehow, in all those intervening years, despite hours wandering in the forest with dogs, we never had another skunk encounter. That streak ended on June 7, 2017. Enjoying a walk along a dirt and gravel Forest Service road with Finn and Conall on a fine early summer morning, I noticed Finn’s interest piqued by something just off the edge of the road in the foliage, on the downhill side. His body language was odd; he wasn’t chasing, like he would a squirrel. He was moving cautiously. He wasn’t barking, or growling. He was looking at something eye level, approaching slowly. Usually, if a critter, large or small, is running, Finn wants to chase it. If is isn’t running or moving, he ignores it.
With a sense of dread, I started rushing to see what Finn had found. Conall got there before me, and stopped at the edge of the road, watching Finn down below. When I reached Conall and followed his gaze a few feet downhill, I saw to my horror Finn stretching his face toward the hind end of a skunk, its tail lifted. “No…….!” I yelled just as the skunk let loose a full dose of spray, hitting Finn in the face, chest and legs. That skunk was calm as could be, knowing how effective its defense against Finn was; it didn’t even try to move away. As I gagged and swore, Finn immediately backed away from the skunk and dashed up to me and Conall, flinging his head onto the dirt/gravel road surface, trying to rub the offending oil off both sides of his face. He blinked and pawed at his eyes, then commenced rubbing in the dirt again, or in the shrubs alongside the road. The stench, oh god, the stench. Thankfully Conall had the good sense to stay with me up on the road, but I’m sure some of the spray hit us, too, as it dispersed through the air.
Our morning walk was abruptly shortened, any sense of joy obliterated by the skunk. We returned to the car, parked a mile away. I told Finn he was a shit head, several times. He stopped every few yards to rub his face or shoulder in the dirt, ignoring my criticism.
The car was parked roughly five miles from home, all but a quarter mile of that on dirt and gravel FS roads. I was so upset with Finn that I briefly contemplated forcing him to chase me and Conall in the car down the mountain to get home. I wasn’t eager for my car to smell of skunk. But I relented, feeling Finn had been punished enough with that oily awfulness covering his coat. I loaded both dogs into the car, rolled down all the windows, and on the short drive home tried to figure out the quickest way to get the necessary ingredients to de-skunk Finn.
Restricting the boys to the yard – trying to keep the house from stinking – I had to drive to town to buy hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. I stocked up. Just in case.
The good news: Finn is amenable to bathing. No howling or wrestling involved.
I hoped this encounter would convince Finn to leave skunks alone in the future. I’m such an optimist.
Spring 2019 – Midnight in the Yard
When the weather turns warm, I often sleep with the window above my bed cracked a few inches to let in fresh air. Birdsong at daylight is my alarm clock. There is a dog door leading from the sunroom next to my bedroom into the enclosed yard, and the boys come and go as they please, day and night. Sometimes they sneak out quietly, one or both, without waking me; other times they dash together and go crashing through the door, one right after the other, waking me. Usually they come back inside fairly quickly, having made sure we’re safe from marauding critters. There have been times when Conall woofs repeatedly, with concern, at something I can’t see in the dark and I have to bring him in, blocking the dog door, so that I can return to sleep.
(An aside: Once last year, well after dark, Conall’s bark at the fence line was so angry and vicious I cautiously got up to investigate, completely stymied what could be causing such a reaction in him. He often alerts with a woof or a bark, but he rarely sounds mad and never aggressive. This barking was aggressive, a Go away or I’ll kill you kind of barking with lots of low growling. I turned on an outside light and stepping out just beyond the door, saw Conall dashing back and forth along the fence twenty feet away, barking furiously at something just beyond the fence. Snow covered the ground and I feared Conall would jump the fence, he was that upset. At what, I couldn’t tell. It sounded really large. Elk? Moose? Conall never reacted that way to the deer that commonly traverse our lot beyond the fence. I went back inside, grabbed a flashlight, put boots on, and headed back out, with trepidation. Conall was now practically foaming at the mouth at the corner of the yard, a dark area near the house and a gate leading to the driveway where the outdoor light didn’t reach. My heart pounding, I turned my weak flashlight beam that direction, chest height. Something huge and brown moved through the beam, just beyond the fence, Conall growling/barking like mad and following it on his side. I moved the beam upward and caught the head of a horse, looking right at me. A horse! And it wanted into the yard! Even with Conall barking furiously at it! I almost died of relief. The horse kept walking the fence line, as if looking for a way in. To get Conall to calm down I had to toss a snow ball to get the horse to move away. It disappeared into the dark, down the driveway. Even then, I had to find a leash to clip to Conall’s collar in order to convince him to come inside. It took awhile for all of us to calm down that night. I never did learn whose horse it was but found his tracks in the snow the next morning.)
May 23rd was a lovely spring night so my bedroom window was open as I slept. Around midnight I was awakened by the smell of skunk. (Trust me, by now, I recognize it.) They’re nocturnal creatures, and certainly fairly common in the neighborhood. It’s not unusual to get a whiff of skunk near home or in the forest. As I came fully awake, I realized neither dog was inside. Uh oh. Still groggy with sleep I opened the door into the yard. Hearing me, both boys came loping happily toward me and into the house. Assuming if either dog got sprayed it would be Finn, I bent down to sniff his head and didn’t gag; he seemed fine.
Just like at the dude ranch, I assumed the smell in the house would dissipate. I mean, it simply wafted into the house through the open window, right? I went back to bed. The smell didn’t dissipate. In fact, it got stronger. Conall wouldn’t settle. He paced, and panted. I got back up and turned on the interior lights (I had relied on moonlight before). That’s when I saw Conall’s face: soaking wet with a pinkish stain on one side of his muzzle, dampness on the other side and his neck and chest. He was rubbing his face on the concrete floor. Shit. Dammit, he did get sprayed. No wonder it still stinks so bad. I kept swearing for a minute or two to vent my frustration, then got busy: bucket, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. I didn’t even have to look up the measurements online this time. I’m getting good at this de-skunking shampoo shit.
Because it was dark, and because I wasn’t about to try wresting Conall into a bathtub or shower by myself, I “bathed” Conall using a wash cloth dipped in the shampoo. This actually worked well because I hadn’t diluted the concoction with water as we’d done at the dude ranch all those years ago. Conall didn’t fight me too much; he seemed to understand I was trying to help.
I crawled back to bed an hour later, the stench somewhat reduced. Or maybe my nostrils were so fried I simply couldn’t register how bad skunk odor was anymore.
Surely the boys have learned to leave skunks alone, now. They’ve both been hit full in the face. Surely.
Three Weeks Later, Finn and Conall, in the Forest
Another lovely, early summer morning, walking with the boys in the forest. My happy place. It’s June 13th. We’re on one of our more frequently trod dirt roads close to home, gated to keep motorized vehicles out. The boys are doing their thing, ranging a few yards ahead of me, following deer tracks with their noses, looking for squirrels. I’m admiring the colorful wildflowers, stopping here and there to take photos. We’ve only just started a planned hour of walking when first Finn, then Conall, rush toward a skunk ambling along the edge of the road. I see the skunk clearly. “Leave it! Leave it!”I’m yelling, but before I can say another word, I’m watching horrified as both dogs, noses near the skunk’s upright tail, get sprayed in the face. Again. A-fucking-gain. I just shake my head, letting out an incredulous laugh, astonished that (a) I’m actually seeing it happen and (b) they haven’t put two-and-two together, that a fuzzy black-and-white, slow-moving critter means horrific, stinging oil sprayed onto their face if they approach. It’s weird; they don’t get mad at the skunk. They don’t growl at or try to kill it. It’s like some grim game they’re addicted to. Despite always losing, they’re gamblers who can’t help playing Skunk! yet again.
Driving down out of the forest – my car interior re-stinked, thanks to the boys – I tell them that they must be two of the stupidest dogs on the planet. I say it with affection. Sort of.
Back at the house, I bathe both dogs in the yard. I have plenty of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda on hand, but note that I should restock because clearly my dogs are not learning the appropriate lesson.
Long ago, my wise, dog-loving father taught me how to bathe my first Malamute without a struggle. Run the handle end of the leash around a tree trunk, post or other sturdy object, he said, then attach the clip end to the dog’s collar. That gives them some freedom of movement as you bathe them, reducing their stress. I bathed Finn first; he cooperated and so didn’t need tethering. Conall watched, thinking perhaps he had escaped such torture. Oh, no, my Wooly One. I’m saving best for last. I ran Conall’s leash through the wire mesh of the fence gate – this part of the yard already smelled a bit like skunk from the spraying incident in the yard three weeks earlier – and commenced bathing his front half. I used the garden hose to rinse him off. He tolerated it fairly well. Thanks, Dad, I thought. Dad’s gentle method worked wonderfully, saving my back from a wrestling match with a reluctant and stinky Malamute.
(Photos: Conall trying to rub the skunk oil off; Finn doing the same; Conall going for full body roll – rare for him – in an effort to remove the oil; dirty, stinky, disgusting boys loaded in the car for the drive home; post-bath on the deck, after Finn rolled in some gravel right after his bath.)
As I recoiled the hose near the bib on the side of the house, I noticed odd splatter stains on the siding. Aha! Skunk spray from three weeks ago that missed the boys but hit the house. So, that skunk was inside the yard when the bruhaha happened. I’ve read a skunk can spray up to ten feet. The boys must have heard it moseying around the yard, snuck out quietly through the dog door and gotten too close, Conall getting the brunt of the skunk’s defenses. The whole encounter was so peaceful that I didn’t hear a thing; it was the smell that woke me up. Maybe Finn had learned his lesson and stayed back that night. Or maybe he just didn’t get to the skunk fast enough and Conall blocked the spray. Who knows?
Two Weeks After That – Another Close Call in the Forest. Or…Was that a Porcupine?
By now you can probably guess that I’m becoming wary of taking the dogs for walks in the forest. But I remind myself that one of the skunk incidents was at the house. They’re everywhere. I can’t give up forest walks out of fear of another dousing. It is odd that already this summer there have been two encounters, though. Owls are a natural predator of skunks – apparently approaching from above is the safest way to attack a skunk – and I haven’t heard owls hooting at night in a long, long time. Something’s out of balance.
On June 25th, the boys and I headed into the forest for an easy walk. We hadn’t gone far when my newest nightmare started unfolding again, like a scene in Groundhog Day: all three of us see a smallish, cat-sized critter ambling across the dirt road several yards ahead. In almost exactly the same spot as the skunk on June 13th. The boys picked up their pace as I yelled “Leave it!” at the top of my lungs, several times, watching aghast as they approached what I assumed was yet another skunk. (Or maybe the same one, spray glands fully reloaded.) Resigned yet maniacally hopeful for a good outcome, I kept yelling and retreating, hoping the boys would follow me, away from the critter. They’d look at me, the deranged screaming woman, then look at the critter again, which was now in the foliage along the edge of the road and out of my sight. Finn would start to return to me, but then Conall would approach the critter again so Finn would follow, then Conall would start toward me, back and forth, while I kept yelling at both to leave it. (My throat was sore for hours. That’s how loud I was yelling. Thank god no one was around to hear me.) I kept expecting to see them start squinting and rubbing their faces after being sprayed, but they never did. I kept up my pleading while backing away and eventually – after probably five seconds that seemed like five minutes – both boys came running happily toward me, Finn especially bouncing as if he’d just done something really fun. I waited for skunk stench to assault my nose, but…nothing. What the hell?
Rather than risk a spraying by continuing on my planned route, I turned us back, taking another old dirt logging road leading away from the critter. Not far along that other road, both boys suddenly put noses to dirt and paced around, following a scent into the undergrowth, then returning to the road. When I caught up to them, I smelled skunk, fairly strong, in the air. Did that skunk spray at something over here, then amble down to where the boys found it, unable to spray them there because it had already shot its wad (so to speak)? I pondered this as we continued walking. I was vigilant, watching both boys’ body language carefully, but also happily distracted occasionally by the wildflowers. I finally relaxed, even took a few photos.
I kept returning in my mind to the puzzle of the skunk, though. Was it even a skunk? I couldn’t recall seeing the distinctive black fur with white stripes, something I’d seen clearly on the skunk that got the boys in the forest a few weeks earlier. Nor did I see an upright tail. And it seemed more brown than black. But it moved with the slow assurance of a skunk. It didn’t try to run away. Hmmm.
Did the boys find a porcupine? That’s the one critter encounter we’ve never had, thankfully, nor have I ever seen one in the forest although I know they’re there. I’ve heard many horror stories of friends’ dogs with quills stuck in snouts and chests, rushing to the vet to have them removed, the dogs in pain. Back home, I looked for photos of porcupines online. Maybe. If the boys didn’t try to paw the porcupine or nudge it with their noses – perhaps my batshit-crazy-woman screaming made them wary enough to stay a reasonable distance away – they wouldn’t have been quilled, explaining their leaving the field of battle unscathed this time.
I’ll never know. But I’m glad they didn’t get skunked for what would have been the third time this year. Summer has just arrived. It’s already shaping up to be a long one.
(Cover photo: Taken June 25th, shortly after the skunk/porcupine sighting. Conall is looking down toward where we had the encounter, wondering….)