I haven't been able to catch him on film (pixels?) yet, but we've seen him twice, and we know he's there. He looks a little like this: (Image Source: Erwin C. Nielsen/Painet Inc., Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
Thanksgiving night we pulled into the driveway around 11:30, after a fun, long day at Rachel Anne's. We spotted him, his top-heavy form non-chalantly lumbering his way to the warmth under our shed.
The kids immediately gathered around (from a distance), watching. Just wait till they told all their friends in Big Suburb!
I ran into the house for the camera, and immediately heard screaming.
"Cowboy! Cowboy! Cowboy! Get in the house!!"
Cowboy is, of course, our Schnoodle. The poodle half of him makes him smart and a good lap dog. The Schnauzer half just can't resist a good chase.
Lord have mercy, I thought. That poor city dog does not have a clue what he's in for! I wonder if I have any tomato juice, since our ONE little grocery store is closed, even if they did carry something stronger for the occasion. Would tomato soup work?
Fortunately for all of us, Cowboy listened (remember, he's the only dog we've ever had that actually "comes"), and obeyed the frantic calls of five children and a Dad, screaming their heads off at almost midnight. After a recklessly brazen sniff, he came trotting back. Mr. Skunk plodded under the shed, oblivious to all the commotion, and the kids came running after Cowboy into the house to tell me of the close call.
"He got right up to it!"
"He was within spraying distance!"
"I can't believe he didn't get sprayed!"
"Oh, I wish we'd had the camera!"
They were all talking at once. In the crowd of faces, I noticed little Annie-7, who was wide-eyed, animatedly relating her version of the experience, right in there with the big kids. She was giddy and breathless and laughing with excitement, "You should have seen it, Mom!"
Smack in the middle of her tale, tears came streaming down her face.
"I think I'm crying!" she said incredulously. "I don't really know why I'm crying!" she giggled, confused and suddenly embarrassed at the unexpected rush of tears.
There she stood, laughing and crying at her own mixed-up feelings. "I was so happy to see the skunk," she whispered thickly as I scooped her into my arms, "But I was so worried about Cowboy!"
I brushed her hair back and tried to dry her wet eyelashes. I forgot about the dog and the skunk and the camera and the tomato juice. I felt a lump in my throat as I looked at my baby, who was growing up right before my eyes.
Oh, Annie, I know just how you feel. I feel that way a lot.
I held her close, marveling at such big-girl concern, but glad she was still small enough to fit in my lap.
It's okay to stay little and to worry about dogs and to laugh and cry at the same time.Then we laughed and cried together a bit until we felt better. And in the morning, when we remembered it, we only laughed.