A beautiful day with a bright sun shining and the promise of spring in the air. The prospect of a long leisurely walk through fields and woods.
What could possibly go wrong?
|Photo by Brian Garrett, Flickr|
Normally, when we start out on a walk, I have Shadow on leash. But on this day I decide to work on reinforcing his off-leash “heel”, because the previous week’s snow has melted and the mud has dried to the point that we will be able to walk over to our favorite field rather than keep to the road.
So we set off down our driveway, Shadow cheerfully vacuuming up treats for being at my side (I really need to learn how to fade rewards), when suddenly he raises his head and takes off across our dirt road to the neighbor’s yard. Seconds later, he’s frantically rolling in the grass, pawing at his face. Too late, I see a skunk smack in the middle of the neighbor’s yard, trotting away, tail high. In broad daylight.
What? Skunks are supposed to be nocturnal. Later, I will read that, while normally nocturnal, skunks sometimes will come out in during the day to look for food, especially in the early spring.
Now the day’s plan changes from walking the dog to bathing the dog, itself a form of aerobic workout.
|Shadow soaking in tomato juice.|
In the last Skunked episode, the year before, as soon as I got home from our walk with a very stinky dog, I jumped online and learned about a peroxide formula that chemically changes the oil that causes the skunk’s punishing odor. But at the time, we had only a tiny amount of peroxide in the house and it was too late to get supplies at the nearest store, five miles away. It would have been an hour’s round trip to get it.
So instead, we foolishly bathed Shadow with dish detergent. That set the smell so effectively that multiple baths later, alternating shampoo, tomato juice and detergent (poor pup!), we realized that the only solution would be a haircut. A very short haircut.
|Extra short, please!|
Fortunately, we learned from our mistake. This time, we have quarts of peroxide in stock. I make up a few gallons of the solution and a couple of treatments later, my spouse, a man with a sense of smell to rival a dog’s, declares Shadow to be odor free.
If Shadow were only like Doodle, the fictional narrator of the Doodlebugged Mysteries. Like Shadow, Doodle manages to get into a lot of trouble, and in this scene from Dog-Nabbed, he is lost in the woods.
“I awake several times in the night, once to the haunting sound of coyotes. I can’t tell if it’s the same pack I heard earlier or not, but I snuggle down in my hole, glad they’re too far away to be a danger. Another time, the stench—there’s really no other word—of a skunk assaults my nose. I lift my head to see one waddling to the creek. I cornered a skunk once in my service dog days. Not a good experience. Let’s just say, Lesson Learned. I watch it from my hiding place without moving.”
Okay, maybe I was indulging in authorial wishful thinking when I wrote that. I suspect for Shadow, and for most dogs, the lesson will never be learned. So we’ve once again restocked our supplies of peroxide and baking soda.
In case any of you have a calamitous skunk encounter—and, really, is there any other kind?—here’s the formula.
It works. And it’s cheaper than the commercial skunk deodorizers on the market, which can be a good thing if you happen to have a big dog with a long coat.
Especially one who, unlike Doodle, happens to be Lesson Impaired when it comes to skunks.
Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville's Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests.
She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia, where she’s busy writing the next Doodlebugged mystery. You can find her books and read her blog at http://www.susankroupa.com and visit her Amazon Author page at http://amazon.com/author/susankroupa.