Sam Meets the Striped Kitty Cat
by Daddy John (Fussner)
One day in late February the sun was shining bright, and the wind was blowing from the south. There was a promise of spring in the air. It was warm for late February. Several red birds could be seen around Dough Doughy’s house, along with a dozen or so robins. The sparrows were already thinking of building nests, though it was much too early to start. About a hundred pigeons were sunning themselves on the south side of the barn roof. There were dark pigeons, white pigeons, old, young, all colors and ages.
Way down in the pasture near the woods, a few deer were grazing on the green grass between the patches of snow. Near the brier patch, old and young male and female rabbits were busy stuffing themselves with tender green grass and the young shoots of plants making an early growth. Many little field mice were out looking for food, for they were very hungry after the last cold spell.
Chatty the squirrel lay sunning himself on the big limb of the old oak tree near the creek. In the creek could be seen little fish looking for food, bigger fish looking for little fish, and the biggest fish looking for all of them. Tommy Turtle was slowly swimming around, looking for just anything at all to eat.
Out in the barn, the mice that can always be found in barns were very busy scampering around, looking for stray bits of grain that may have been dropped and keeping an eye open for bits of paper, string, or anything else that would make a warm nest warmer. Dough Doughy had left the door open so that the warm, fresh air could dry out the barn.
Under the chicken house lived a cute little animal. She wasn’t very big, and her coat was black except for the white stripes down her back. She had lived under the chicken house all her life, and she wasn’t afraid of anything in the barnyard. She would walk under the six big horses much as if their legs were tree trunks. Dogs worried her not. They would only try to catch her once. After that they stayed well away, leaving when she walked near.
She didn’t bother the chickens, except to take an egg once in a while to make her coat shine. Dough Doughy didn’t mind, for he often fed eggs to his six big horses to make their coats shine. The only things that tried to get away when she arrived, but didn’t often succeed, were the mice and the very few rats that lived in the barn. Some of the wiser mice lived in the barn to a ripe old age. The rats, however, never lasted over a week. Rats and mice were Petunia’s main food, and with her around, Dough Doughy had few problems.
The warm weather brought Petunia out from her nice dry nest. She was as hungry as all the other wild citizens of the farm. She had already eaten everything around the chicken house. The food Dough Doughy set out for her was filling, but she was a little tired of it, so she was off to the barn.
Petunia hadn’t been to the barn in three weeks, so the mice were playing all over the place. Petunia entered the open door, stopped, and looked around. Boy, oh boy! What a sight for a hungry skunk!
Way, way over near the far end, fully forty feet away, was a big rat, chewing on a bag of feed. In between Petunia and the rat were about a half dozen mice. What should she do? Should she catch a small mouse that she was sure of or try for the rat, which was forty feet away but only six feet from his hole in the wall and safety? What do you think? Well, sir, almost faster than the eye could follow, Petunia streaked across the forty feet. Before the rat knew she was coming, it was too late. Mr. Rat made a fine meal for Petunia.
After a big meal, most animals like to sleep, and Petunia was no different. She slowly walked out to the chicken house and was soon fast asleep in the sun. She had been napping for about an hour when she was awakened by a dog barking. Opening her eyes and springing to her feet, she saw Sam. He would lunge forward barking loudly and then back off. He repeated this over and over. Petunia couldn’t retreat to her den under the chicken house because Sam was between her and the entrance.
Petunia didn’t want any trouble, so she backed off toward the barn. Sam kept coming after her, barking every step of the way. He didn’t know anything about skunks, but he was about to find out. Petunia reached the barn, still slowly backing away from Sam, when she realized that Sam wasn’t going to stop making a pest of himself. She turned and ran as fast as she could. Sam was doing a good job of keeping up with her as they raced across the pasture.
Dough Doughy was out in the pasture rounding up the horses, and he saw Sam chasing Petunia. “ Well, well,” he thought, “ Sam is about to learn another lesson the hard way. He will be a mighty lonely dog before this is over.”
Petunia reached the fence and raced under it and on into the woods, where she holed up in a hollow tree. The hole was near the ground, but too small for Sam. Petunia knew she would be safe from harm. Poor Sam reached the fence and rolled head over tail, unable to stop. He then had to hunt for a hole under the fence large enough for him to go through. He soon found the hollow tree where Petunia was holed up. He barked, he scratched at the hole, and he stuck his head in; he did everything he could to get Petunia.
Soon, enough was enough, and any more was too much. Petunia turned her tail toward Sam; up went the flag, and out shot the gas, hitting Sam in the face and front. Sam let out a howl you could hear for a mile or more. He rolled in the dirt and rubbed his head on the ground, trying to clear his eyes. After a while, he could see well enough to go home. Yelping every step of the way, he reached home in record time.
Dough Doughy had waited out by the barn after he drove the horses in. He listened to Sam as he made his way to the hollow tree. Dough Doughy knew just what was going on every minute of the time. When Petunia threw the charge of gas from the glands under her tail, Dough Doughy heard Sam yelp, and he knew what to do. Going into the barn, he opened the door in a little cabinet and took out a bottle of medicine for Sam’s eyes. He then went to the brooder house, where the baby chicks are kept, and filled a big tub with warm water.
Soon Sam was home, his eyes were taken care of, and he had been given a hot bath, a good drying off, a warm bed in the brooder house, a hot meal, and plenty of time to think about chasing striped kitty cats. For about a month, no one came near Sam except to bring him his food.
(Laura recommends Nature’s Miracle for skunked dogs).