A Skunk By Any Other Name

skunk 0919

The one time, since he came to live with us, that Oz ran into a skunk, he did so with all the panache one might expect of a dog: full-bore, nose-first right under the skunk’s tail.

He did this while out in the darkness of early morning with Lynn. This is what you need to know about Lynn: she has no sense of smell. It is as profound a loss as Beethoven’s hearing, this musical genius who had conducted (probably badly) an orchestra in the debut of his rousing Ninth Symphony and had to be turned around so he could see the audience applauding wildly.

So after the skunk, which Lynn never saw, she woke me up to say, “Something’s wrong with your dog. He’s foaming at the mouth and scraping along the grass.” Very groggily, I already knew what was wrong with my dog. “He ran into a skunk.” The evidence was clear, right there for anyone to smell. No question about it, even for those just awakened from sound slumber. This is what Lynn asked next: “Are you sure?”

Oh, the fallout from that! Lynn, who also smelled bad (in addition to smelling badly), brought Oz into the house, so it was in the carpets and along the walls and wafting through the air. Oz and I got into the bathtub with the acrylic doors that closed him in, and I scrubbed vigorously.

Then we went off to work, where it was quickly apparent to my colleagues that the bath hadn’t helped a whit. We walked down the street to the dog groomer, where an employee named John set me up in a “self” dog wash station and then did most of the work, scrubbing with what was supposed to be their industrial soap. But that didn’t help much either, and the day wasn’t saved until our mail carrier Deb came into the shop, immediately wrinkled her nose, and provided the formula for the Secret Elixir: Dawn dish soap, baking soda and vinegar. [Correction: hydrogen peroxide, not vinegar.]

Finally Oz no longer reeked, but it took days for it to dissipate from the shop and weeks to get the smell out of our house. I hoped that was enough to teach him a lesson for life.

Well, “one time” might now be the “first time,” and we may be in the midst (or mist) of the “second time,” but I am so far unable to tell. And Lynn, of course, was unable to help.

Here is what I do know: I was awakened, once more in the early morning hours, by the acrid odor that can only mean one thing. But I had been in the middle of some dream, and I was really tired, and Lynn wasn’t standing bedside to tell me something was wrong, so I drifted in and out of sleep, wallowing in this odor for multiple minutes before it finally penetrated.

I got up and found Lynn in the pet area.”Where’s Oz?” I asked. He was right next to her, eating breakfast. She allowed as how he had chased after some creature while they were outside. (For the second morning in a row — ah, the joys of country living.)

Now it is an hour later, and I still can’t tell you whether a skunk unloaded directly outside one of my open bedroom windows, or on Oz, or both. By the time I was sticking my nose inconclusively up against Oz the scent had permeated not only every membrane of my nasal passages, but also my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The smell of skunk tastes terrible, let me tell you.

Lynn suggested I relocate to the guest room, where I parked under another open window (I don’t think I smelled anything outside) and realized we have been subjecting all our guests to a raft of light pollution from a multitude of lights on our internet parts, including at least two that strobe relentlessly. Sorry, guests.

Now I am on the couch, and Eau de Skunk is ubiquitous in my nostrils. Oz I think is in my room, where I closed the windows, but this is not going to help me figure out the generation of this problem.

I am also realizing a flaw in our new house: we don’t have a good spot for washing a reluctant dog. Lynn has a tub, but it comes with high sides and a bed of rocks to navigate, and then there’s no way to keep a dog from leaping out. Her shower is enclosed, but only offers a rainfall shower head that seems unhelpful for dog washing.

That leaves my shower/tub, which is enclosed but will require a major lift to get a dog in. And then the tub is filled with a bunch of jets that seem unlikely to appreciate clogs of dog hair, if I may anthropomorphize a bathtub. I’m wondering if I could put a giant trashbag down first, but that still doesn’t address the lift that’s going to be required.

So this is an experiment I’m not eager to try, especially if he wasn’t involved. (Although the skunk may have unloaded because it was the object of Oz’s pursuit.)

There has now been a lull in which I opened nearly every window in the house, mixed up Secret Elixir and put myself in the shower, with steam (because I can), and finally got skunk out of my nose, eyes and mouth. For one blissful moment, I smelled nothing skunk — and then I opened the shower door. The new house smell I’ve been luxuriating in for a little over a month is irreparably gone, I’m afraid.

And I rather think Oz did have a Close Encounter, although perhaps not of the third kind. I still can’t tell for sure, although he’s certainly acting weird and subdued, and now that he’s near the air seems skunkier. But when I thought about the mess he would make in my bathroom that’s still filled with boxes, assuming I could get him in the tub at all, I have decided to just take Secret Elixir, by-pass work once again (how is that once upon a time I could manage a life and work and now I can do neither?) and take him to the dog wash.

Tell me again why it is that any of us have pets? I’m at a complete loss for an answer myself this morning.



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