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Monday, September 13, 2010

Having A Pet

A Skunk? I must be Demented! Oh... Yeah..

Everyone knows there are many benefits to owning a pet both physical & emotional. I looked it up anyway, and there is a lot of information on the web about it. The list below covers what most of the sites tend to agree on.

Some of the benefits of owning a pet are: 
* Lower blood pressure.
* Lower Triglyceride levels.
* Lower cholesterol levels.
* Lower rates of depression.
* Higher survival rates after a heart attack have been found in pet owners.
* Pets offer companionship, thus reducing feelings of loneliness.
* Pets can offer the opportunity to meet other people either via online forums, pet shows or other hobbies related to your chosen pet.
* Dogs require exercise, which is also of benefit to dog owners. Interestingly, surveys have shown that cat owners are as active as dog owners.
* Pets require love and attention. Pet owners enjoy having somebody to care & look after. Pets give lonely owners a sense of purpose.
* There is nothing sweeter than coming home from a stressful day at work & being able to unwind by stroking your pet. Stress is known to have a detrimental impact on the immune system.
* Elderly people who live alone are often isolated, pet ownership reduces feelings of isolation & loneliness. Pets can offer a sense of purpose & responsibility in the elderly. They also are more active than non pet owners. Which provides an obvious health benefit to them.
* Pets can help reduce sadness in owners.

In addition to all of that, animals have shown to have a beneficial effect on even advanced stage dementia patients. Of course all of the research has been done in nursing homes on Alzheimer's patients using dogs or cats or fish in therapy, but the concept is still valid.

Logan, the dog, was one such animal who visited a nursing home one day. He was an abused animal rescued by the local Humane Society. He visited the nursing home where my former wife worked, and we ended up adopting him. He was a wonderful pet for the children, and a full member of our family for about 12 years. We all still miss him. He was short, and furry. It has been a couple years now, and I am finally ready for a new pet.

But I digress...

The whole purpose of writing this post about the benefits to owning a pet is to justify writing more posts about Kroozer. My friends and my Neurologist all think my having a pet skunk is a great idea. One of my favorite sons has been nagging me for over a year. More importantly, I think I needed a pet, too. I just needed an excuse to share my experience by writing about it in this blog.

In truth, everybody else was thinking along the lines of a dog or a cat or a hamster - nobody was saying, "Hey, Lee! Go get a skunk!".

So, I told you all of that so I could tell you this:

When I was in High School I knew a family that had a pet skunk. This was way back in the late 60's so it was uncommon. I thought their skunk was a really kool pet. Since then I always wanted a pet skunk, but there was always some obstacle in the way. Once I got divorced I started looking into getting a skunk for a pet. After much research, I decided I couldn't afford one, and didn't have the time for one, and that they were too much trouble. Of course I kept looking, and stumbled upon a skunk rescue organization. I contacted them, and filled out a form requesting to be considered for adopting a skunk. Now that I am no longer capable of working due to my FTD I have plenty of time for a pet skunk.

I was notified that there was a skunk that needed a good home, and that he had a "docile personality". I saw his picture online. I made arrangements to go and meet him. He was staying at a skunk foster home (Yes! There are skunk foster homes! Who knew!?)

It was a big deal for me to plan the trip, and actually drive a couple hundred miles round trip. I overcame the resistance, and went. It was very short notice so I didn't have much time to talk myself out of going. The purpose of the trip was to check out the skunk, and for them to see if I would make a suitable skunk owner. If everything worked out I would be able to bring him home in a few weeks.

They said his name was "Oreo", which I dislike immensely. I think it is trite, and didn't fit. I sat in this nice lady's kitchen on the floor in front of his cage for about 20 minutes while he cowered in the corner of his cage. There were 7 other skunks and a few dogs there. Now and then he would hiss and snap at the skunk in the next cage. Eventually I coaxed him to come out and take a small piece of food. He was very shy.

Who's fat!? Not me!
I had been warned that he was uncomfortable with strangers. He was owned by a woman for 2 years, then she gave him to a friend to try to find him a new home because for some reason she could no longer keep him. I guess he didn't get along too well with his new owner, and the guy tried to "make him like him" by feeding him cheese crackers. Lots of cheese crackers! That is why he is fat. That is the story I heard of his background. It may be true, or not.

So... After about a half hour I got a little impatient sitting in front of his cage. After all - at the end of the day I DO have bvFTD. So - I decided to force the issue and see if I wanted to adopt this 3 year old shy overweight antisocial skunk. Risking life and limb, I just reached in and grabbed his fat butt and hauled him out of the cage. Surprise!

I think I heard the woman who was taking care of him actually gasp. She knew way more about skunks than I did, and she expected blood to be spilled. Mine!

Kroozer loves corn on the cob. Howzabot those choppers!
Skunks have teeth! Big teeth! I am not talking about normal teeth like a dog or a cat. For the size, skunks have teeth like daggers. Swords! Scimitars!

I figured if he was going to bite me I needed to know. I did not really want to have to teach an adult skunk not to bite. I really couldn't tell much with him in the cage. I was not being brave because at the time I had no idea how big his fangs were. I figured like a cat or a dog his size. I still would have done it - I have bvFTD and frequently do stupid stuff - OK - maybe not...

Anyway, I hauled him out onto my lap. He did not bite be. He glommed on, and snuggled up to me. For the next hour and a half I held, hugged, and petted him. He fell asleep in my arms.

The woman who was taking care of him said, "I guess he has chosen you as his new owner." What could I do? The skunk rescue organization waived the waiting period because I had such a long drive, and I brought him home that very day.

That was July 22nd. I was totally unprepared to transport a skunk, so we just threw him in a cardboard box with a bath towel. She gave me a couple cups of dog food as a start till I could go shopping for him. He slept almost all the way home. At the start of the day I wasn't even sure I wanted a skunk, let alone this fat antisocial one. I was just going to meet and greet. Little did I know.

Kroozer is taking me out for a walk.
Kroozer did not respond at all to his old name, so I had no problem changing it. I had already chosen the name Kroozer, though the final spelling wasn't decided upon until after he was "home". I had made a list of things that were "Black & White". A police Cruiser was on the list. It fits. He has learned his name is Kroozer.

We spent August getting acclimated to one another. That is why I only wrote 2 posts for the whole month. I was totally engaged with my new pet. It is about 8 weeks later, and we are finally getting settled in.

So, now that I have written this I have an excuse to write more now and then about Kroozer, and the benefits and challenges of having both bvFTD, and a pet skunk. We have a lot in common, and his basic personality incorporates a lot of my symptoms. I may finally have met a creature more stubborn and antisocial  than I am.

Comments are welcome.


  1. you made me cry!! Okay not really, but as close as a man can get. My eyes got a little watery as soon as I saw that pic of Logan. Gosh I miss that lil bugger. I'm really glad you have a skunk and you too can sit on the deck being lazy together. Also, I've been traveling around the world for my covert job working with the CIA but I always check your blog.... Just lettin you kno ;)

  2. Ummm... That would be "two", not "too". Shame on you! Too, to, two funny!

    (my problem is affect vs effect *grin*)

    Glad you can still stop by and read this blog with all your globe-trotting. I think that since nobody leaves comments all of the international readers are really just netbots phishing for web sites to spam. I have a spam filter on the comments and it occasionally picks up something written in Russian or some exotic language wanting to know if I want to rent a girl or collect my 5 million dollars from that old friend in Nigeria - or something like that.

    Anyway - I miss Logan, but Kroozer is keeping me occupied. He is definitely nothing like a dog or a cat.

    Glad you keep checkin in ; )

  3. Read today's (19th) post before this one and so happy that you finally told folks about the Krooz! He's perfect for you, having "affected" you "effectively.":) Happy Trails to both of you.

  4. BTW, I loved the photo of Logan. Even I miss him. He was a sweet guy.