I was walking our chocolate lab Aquinnah at 5 a.m. the other day when a skunk emerged from under a fence about 125 feet in front of us. (Those white stripes seem to project a light of their own, somehow, which is a good thing at that hour.)
We stopped dead in our tracks.
Pepé waddled across the street and headed down a driveway on the other side. Good. The coast was clear. We resumed our walk. Then Pepé had a change of heart. He reversed course, came out of the drive, hobbled into the street, and crossed back over to our side.
Aquinnah stared at him, his body aquiver with the desire to lunge forward and let that little stinker know what's what. He pulled at his leash and whimpered, forcing me to hang on tight.
The only thing worse than seeing a skunk in the dark at 5 a.m. while walking an 85-pound dog with a “let me at ‘em” attitude is seeing an indecisive skunk in the dark at 5 a.m. while walking an 85-pound dog with a “let me at ‘em” attitude. Aquinnah wasn't simply offended by the skunk's presence. He was appalled that Pepé, having had the good sense to exile himself to the other side of the street, got cocky and came back.
I vetoed Aquinnah’s plan to engage the enemy, knowing, as I did, that Pepé had superior firepower. To Aquinnah’s chagrin, we turned around and staged a hasty but orderly retreat, despite the affront to his canine honor.