Life with Liz: Skunked
It took 47 years of owning pets, but it finally happened. My dog got skunked. More accurately, the Wonderful Husband’s dog got skunked. Because in that moment of time, it was really just easier for me to say, “Dog? What dog?” and pretend not to know either of them.
The smell, however, was pervasive, and unless I wanted to banish them both to the barn, it was “my problem” too.
It was a quiet Sunday night. I have been trying to make good on my New Year’s resolution to start the week on the right foot and have the house reasonably under control and ready for the week. The WH decided to take the dog out for a late evening training session, to wear him out a little and to get some fresh air. I had just finished putting the last load of dishes into the dishwasher and was about to sit down with a cup of tea and some Netflix when the phone rang.
“We have a problem.” Note the use of the word “we.” That “we” means that he knows full well that I don’t currently have any problems, but I am about to have one and I’m not going to be happy about it.
“I think the dog got sprayed by a skunk.” “You think? I’m sorry, how does that work? Isn’t that a pretty straightforward yes or no?” “Well, he’s not exactly on his lead.” The picture was becoming clear. Not only was he almost definitely sprayed by the skunk, he had been free to engage to the fullest extent with said skunk, which probably didn’t end well for the skunk, but also allowed for the maximum contact with skunk stench.
That was the end of the conversation because I hung up on him and immediately started Googling how fast I could secure a one-way ticket to a tropical island. When it became obvious that I wasn’t going to catch a flight before they came home, I looked for home remedies for skunk deodorant. The first thing that popped up was a solution of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of dish soap. It came highly recommended as effective, and thanks to stockpiling any kind of cleaning and disinfecting solutions I could find months ago, I had a full gallon of hydrogen peroxide sitting in the closet.
The next problem was that it was already dark, and pretty cold. I truly felt badly for both the dog and the man, but there is no way either of them was coming into the house until they took a first pass at getting rid of the stink. So, a gallon of cleaning solution and a few old towels got stationed on the porch, and then the doors got locked. I was nice enough to observe from inside, just in case someone needed 911 called when they became hypothermic.
Since the dog had no problem wrestling a skunk in a foot of semi-melted snow and mud, I really didn’t think another 10 minutes of sitting outside covered in stink remover was going to harm him. Besides, one of the main selling points of this breed was their stamina and hardiness. This guy had ancestors that fought in the trenches of World War I. He could handle a few minutes of being wet and cold.
As far as the WH went, well, he was on his own. If he was one of the kids, I would have told him that he should use that time to think about what he did and how not to make the same mistake again. I’m not sure he had much time for introspection between trying to get himself and the dog covered with the cleaner and teaching the dog a whole new vocabulary.
I tore myself away from the spectacle long enough to go clear the way between the door and the tub so there was nothing impeding their progress and little that could accidentally get contaminated as they ran from one to the other. G and I coordinated our plan, so we were ready to hand the dog off and get him in the tub with as little contact as possible.
Duncan, on his best day, is not a fan of the bathtub. It’s crazy that this dog who will dive into any body of water and swim after just about anything absolutely detests the teeny, tiny bathtub, but he does. We have tried everything and there is just nothing that makes him happy about a bath. The last few times, though, one of us has jumped in the tub with him, which seems to help a little. He’s even started to climb into the tub for me. Granted, he sulked the entire time, but at least the wrestling match didn’t start until he was in the tub.
Do you think that the skunk smelling, peroxide coated, wet, cold, miserable dog would step one foot in the bathtub that night? Nope. Not a chance. He actually tried try to meld himself into the bathroom floor. G and I were both still pretty skunk free and we wanted to keep it that way. Of course, we were each trying to get the other one to have to be the one to scrape the dog off the floor and get him into the tub. I’m not too proud to admit that I took advantage of my proximity to the door to quickly run out of the bathroom and pull the door shut behind me, leaving G to fend for himself. Maybe not my proudest Mom moment, but definitely my least-skunk-smelling-person-in-the-house moment.
The WH arrived shortly, and whatever happened in that bathtub after that, I will never know. The next day was spent hauling several garbage bags full of skunk saturated clothes, towels, and rugs outside to try to air out a little before they contaminated the washing machine.
It’s now a few days later, and we’re mostly skunk-free. Duncan, however, did get a full-face blast, and things like his eyebrows and inside his ears still carry a faint whiff of skunk when he shakes his head or scratches himself. We’ve had several long talks about how the skunk thing really isn’t going to work for me and he needs to stay away from the black-and-white furries. Based on his quizzical looks, I think I’d better pick up a few more gallons of peroxide. It’s going to be a long, smelly summer.
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.