The Skunk Whisperer Goes Viral ~ Interviewing Mike MacMillan

Need a boost? Does your faith in humanity need restoration? Well, stick around!

Lately, my motto in life has evolved into a simplistic view. Something like . . . Try to love everyone and surround yourself with the best possible people.

There will never be a shortage of negative energy so it’s up to us as individuals to reach for the good. To BE the good.

Mike MacMillan is definitely one of the good guys. And guess what! I got to interview him. If you’re one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t seen this video, then check it out and join us below.

Thanks for being here, Mike. As a huge animal lover, I’m overjoyed to be speaking with you.

MM: Thanks for having me!

Where were you headed the morning you encountered this little skunk with a can stuck on his head?

MM: I was on my way to meet the mayor of the City of Barrie, ON (pop. 130,000), a city north of Toronto. Meeting the mayor is not a frequent event for me, so I was dressed up and I did not want to be late (or smell like skunk).

The fact you were on your way to meet the mayor makes what you did even more endearing. Are you an animal lover on a normal day or was it something about this little guy’s situation that prompted you to help?

MM: I would say I am, or perhaps more accurately, a nature lover. I’m an avid camper and have camped in some pretty remarkable places like Scotland, Egypt, Cuba, Nepal, Newfoundland, the Rockies, and Yellowstone.

Wow!

MM: That said, this experience has opened my eyes to the droves of people who devote their lives to animals, I don’t come close to this type of love or commitment. I have a new respect for it.

Lovely. Such an enchanting video.

Do you hope to gain anything from this experience?

MM: Great question. I’ve done some reflecting on this unusual ordeal and what it might mean to me. The most common comment in the thousands of messages I’ve read is: “Thanks.” Presumably, people are thanking me on behalf of the skunk, or perhaps they are thanking me for something I did that they feel they could not do, or something they would do but didn’t have the opportunity to do. Regardless, I appreciate the kind sentiments and I know they are coming from a good place.

That said, though entirely well-meaning, ‘Thanks’ sits uneasy with me. I didn’t do anything for anyone else. In fact, if I’m really honest, I didn’t do it for the skunk either (sorry PETA), at least not in any deep sense. The truth is, I did it for myself. I really want to be the type of person who helps a suffering animal if I can. Valuing the well-being of conscious creatures (human or otherwise) is my core value. When confronted with the situation Monday morning, if I wanted to be consistent with my own values, I HAD to do something. There really was no “choice.”

The most important thing is . . . you did something. It wasn’t a squirrel or a rabbit, though helping them would have been equally important. My point is that there are more folks who might stop to help a cute fuzzy animal without the glands that make rotten eggs smell like roses in comparison. And to top it off, you were on your way to a meeting with the mayor. That’s pretty special. But you’re questioning your values?

MM: This microscope on my own values has caused me to reflect on what a hypocrite I am. If I HAD to help a suffering skunk to be consistent with my values, why don’t I HAVE to do something about factory farmed chickens, for example. If my principals are that animal suffering is wrong, then why are my principals so flexible when I can’t SEE the suffering but I know it is happening? There is no satisfying answer to this question, so the tough answer is that I will need to align my lifestyle with my values. I haven’t worked out exactly HOW in my head yet, but I am quite certain that my current diet is not in line with my ethical and environmental values.

Your words are music to my soul. I’m a vegetarian. I do things like only buy cage-free eggs and I don’t buy leather anything. Some of the changes are easy and some are hard, so just do your best each day on whatever you choose. None of us can save the world, but we can all do things to make it better. I’m sure whatever changes you employ in your life will be worthy. Anything is better than nothing at all.

So, how many friends and followers did you have prior to the video?

MM: I had about 700 FB friends. Maybe 50 followers. Now, I have almost 5000 friends and 10,000 followers.

I’m glad I slid in under the wire! I think Facebook has a cap at 5,000 friends. That’s a mega fast following. How do you feel about that?

MM: While this reaction is certainly far beyond anything I’ve ever done, I’m not new to viral media. I’ve been pretty active on Reddit the past few years and my posts have frequently made #1, but again, under a pseudonym (twilling8). My son dressed like Colonel Hatfield, my brother listening to wine, and my family’s olde west photo have all run the gamut on social media.

I made an animation a couple years back called “How can I be Happy” narrated by British actor Stephen Fry. It got over 1 million views on youtube, but I published under a pseudonym (SkeptiSketch)

Wow! And you have connections! I have a few random questions for ya. Ready?

MM: Ready!

What are your top three passions in life?

MM:

  1. Philosophy/Debating
  2. Photography/Video-editing
  3. Sailing

We’ve gotten a taste of your second passion. You have excellent skills. I’m sure you are great at your first passion as well, though I’m not going to challenge you. *smile*

You have an interesting career history. Analyst, Animator, Teacher. May I ask what you’re doing now?

MM: I am a senior manager at a mid-sized concrete and fuel company in central Ontario. I have diverse roles, including IT, Land development, and other project management duties.

Not what I was expecting, to be honest. Not sure why I’m surprised since you were on your way to meet the mayor, lol.

MM: I gave up many years ago trying to make money from my art. I found my art suffered and my bank suffered. Now, I live a comfortable life and when I have the time and energy to do art, it is unconstrained by a client and deadlines. That said, with three young kids, there is not much time these days….mm-fam

I don’t have any children and there is still never enough time in the day. Power to the parents who manage to do all they do for their children and still manage to work on their passions. Too many people stop doing the things that made them who they are when they have kids. That’s not good for them or the kids.

You’ve inspired millions of people by helping a creature who couldn’t help himself. Who inspires you?

MM: The late American scientist and NASA astrophysicist Carl Sagan. this youtube clip brings me to the edge of tears every time:

Thanks again, Mike. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you.

 

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