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Truth is Stranger

I’ve been working on a fiction story for the last few weeks but keep getting interrupted by reality.

At our house, you just never know what’s going to happen.

Tonight, as I wrote about a princess, my German Shepherd came galloping up the stairs.

He’s my safety net; hopefully I won’t need help anytime soon, but I’m training him as a service dog.

We’ve been working on things like:

  • Help! (I lie on the floor as if I’ve fallen and he helps me back up.)
  • Dish. (He hands me his bowl.)
  • Open. (He uses a paw to open an unlatched door for me.)
  • Take it to the laundry. (He trots whatever I hand him back to the laundry room. That one’s just for fun.)
  • Sit-stay. (He waits for me to verbally release him from a sit.)
  • Hush. (He stops barking at other dogs. We’re working on this.)
  • Leave it. (He ignores whatever caught his attention.)

and our most recent success,

  • Bring it to me. (Self-explanatory.)

Today, he really latched onto the idea and started bringing me items he thought I might need. I was cleaning the garage to surprise Hubby, so he was actually a big help.

Back to my story. The true one.

He sauntered up to where I sat, typing, and spat something wet at my feet. He looked up, expectant. “See what I brought you? I’m a good boy, yes? Where’s the treat?”

I couldn’t figure out what it was. But that smell…

The sodden little creature at my feet was a baby skunk.

My service dog brought me a critter.

And so, calling for Hubby to please bring paper towels, I abandoned my fiction for the truth.

I swaddled the cold, unmoving little body. We went outside. Strong, skunky musk hung in the cool night air.

We’re a bit odd; we love our skunks. An old albino lives in our woods. I almost invited him into our house when we first moved in, mistaking him for our fluffy white cat (I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time).

“I’m sorry about your baby, Mama!” The breeze caught my words. I didn’t see her.

“He’s just a baby,” I said, heartbroken. “His eyes aren’t even open.”


I stayed outside, not ready to bury the tiny, cold body. Hubby went back inside, crushed. I could call him when I’d held it long enough.

Hoping for a miracle, I started drying the silky black and white fur. No movement.

“Please, God, it would make Hubby so happy if this baby lives. Please make it breathe.”


And then, a tiny gasp.

For the next half hour, I rubbed and tickled and blew on his coat. His breathing remained erratic, but gained momentum.

When I was confident that he could breathe on his own without my encouragement, I went inside to show Hubby. We called a friend who is a wildlife rehab expert (and amazingly, at almost midnight, she picked up the now-named baby Oliver).

If anyone can keep him alive, she can.

After she left, I sat down to write again but couldn’t stop staring at the picture of the little guy in my hand…and I thought you might want to see him, too.


Photo Credit: Casey Alexander

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a big German Shepherd downstairs who definitely deserves a treat.


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