My husband and I are caring for our grand-dog, Buddy, while our youngest son and his family explore western Canada. Last night I let Buddy and our three dogs out one last time before bed. For a moment, all four dogs seemed to disappear into the inky darkness.
Suddenly there was a noisy scuffle. I turned on the powerful outdoor light and saw Buddy had caught a skunk – a very big black and
white skunk! Quickly, realizing what he had caught, he released it, and in that instant it turned its huge and fluffy tail toward him and let loose. Horrified by what he had done and the stickiness of the odorous spray on his face, he rushed into the garage and frantically rubbed himself on his bedding in a vain attempt to rectify his condition. Tessie, his co-conspirator, did the same. Lacey and Zoe stood off to the side watching all the commotion, shaking their heads in wonder.
Shamed by their new smell, Buddy and Tessie lurked in the corners of the garage. I tended to them the best I could, given the lateness of the hour and the odor seeping into my home, then bid them goodnight as they slinked off into the shadows.
The next morning I went to Buddy’s pen to let him out. He shamefully hung his head, contrite over his foolishness. I had texted our son to share the excitement. His response was, “Buddy tangles with skunks about twice a month. He knows all about them, but never seems to learn.” So his surprised innocence was no longer working on me because I understood it was the thrill of the confrontation that Buddy enjoyed.
Out in the big yard this morning, Buddy and Tessie went looking for more trouble, probably hoping for a rematch with their worthy opponent. As I sat drinking my coffee, it occurred to me that sometimes humans do the same thing. We engage in a conflict, perhaps over the smallest thing, for the excitement of the exchange. It’s true the adrenaline flows and the muscles are ready for action, but later we might feel foolish for the silliness of the altercation. Often the motivation is the thrill of the fight, not actually to win a point of argument; besides, we never know when we might get “skunked.”
The old saying, “One must choose one’s battles wisely” may apply here. For now, thrill-seeker Buddy is casing my yard for more excitement.
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Donna’s new book Cherish the Light: One Woman’s Journey from Darkness to Light was chosen as Top 12 Pick of the Year by the Spirited Woman Organization. Available in print or ebook at www.amazon.com
Donna L. Friess, Ph.D. is a psychologist and professor emeritus. As a best-selling author, she has written seven books. She is an advocate for children’s rights, currently serving on a U.S. Justice Department Office for Victims of Crime Consortium.