Homeless in Vancouver: New skunk in the neighbourhood is a welcome sight

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      My first sighting of a skunk in all of 2018 took place Friday evening (October 19th) as I slunk back to my parkade sleeping spot.

      I was fairly sick with the flu, so I had to wonder later if I wasn’t perhaps hallucinating.

      However, my second skunk sighting of the year took place just two days later, a little after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, when I was only half-sick with the flu and this time I managed to get photos.

      And given that both sightings took place in the same stretch of alley on the north side of West Broadway Avenue, between Oak and Alder Street, there’s a good chance that what I saw both times was the same skunk.

      Skunks just want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

      A skunk’s nocturnal progress—seemingly more by scent than sight.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      The October 19 skunk encounter was sudden and unexpected and resulted in some tail-raising on the part of the skunk. For my part, I turned tail and walked away.

      As I did so I had the opportunity to warn an approaching dog walker that there was a skunk nosing through the alley ahead.

      “Thank you for telling me,” she said—real gratitude in her voice—as she and her pooch changed course.

      The Sunday morning skunk sighting wasn’t nearly so abrupt as Friday evening’s.

      I was three blocks farther west and the skunk was a block ahead of me, rather than in the same block.

      It was only thanks to fact that the little skunk chose to double back that I had the chance to take photographs.

      If it was the same skunk from Friday then perhaps it saw me (or smelled me rather) as no great threat.

      Whatever the reason, it made its hippity-hopping way straight towards me, even crossing over to the north side of the alley, where I was standing—putting us on another collision course.

      Seeing my opportunity for a photo, I selected my Samsung phone over my Fuji point-and-shoot (the phone’s camera having poorer focus but better low light sensitivity).

      I eyed the screen to make sure that the flash was not set to fire automatically, in case the skunk was the hair-trigger sort to spray first and ask questions later.

      After the manner of an anti-aircraft gunner, I prefocused to shoot at a spot ahead of the skunk and waited. When it waltzed into focus I started snapping.

      I got three photos before the skunk was within a metre of me and at that point it finally stopped and took notice of my presence.

      This time there was no tail activity on either of our parts. I stood my ground and the skunk simply scampered around me in a wide half-circle that put it behind me and back on its previous course along the north side of the alley.

      I went on to bed and, though I still had the flu, I felt much better for the encounter. I’ve missed seeing skunks all year and I’m happy to know that I have even one for a neighbour.

      I just hope that all the dumb pet dogs in Fairview don’t scare the little critter away.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.

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