There are definitely downsides to dog ownership. Like skunks. Skunks may very well represent the worst aspect of dog ownership. Hands down.
We’ve owned our dog for less than three years and have had to deal with at least 3 skunking incidents. Murphy makes sure that certain aspects of the occasion will always be true:
- It will most likely be dark when it happens.
- It is guaranteed to be at or near freezing outside.
- At least one of you will be occupied in such a way that you can’t imagine a worse possible time to deal with a skunked dog.
The first time she messed with one, she managed to kill it. Unfortunately, it still sprayed her and it all happened just as my husband was preparing to herd the children out the door to head to school. Not understanding how caustic the oils are, we tied her up outside so that he could run the kids in and I could go to work. It wasn’t until we were both home that evening that we attempted to deal with her. We learned our lesson that time. You have to drop everything to deal with a skunked dog or a) she suffers discomfort and/or pain and b) the stink lingers longer.
Another time nearly saw the end of our marriage as we struggled to keep our cool after he woke me up in the middle of the night to help with the skunked dog.
And then there was last night. Things were going well at first. We all had a meal together at the table. My husband ran Jane to her Destination Imagination practice. I read to Hal and had the great joy of watching him take over the reading for the first time. Then he had a great cello practice with his Dad. Daryl practiced his viola. All was going great.
Until it was time for my husband to leave to take Hal to basketball practice and pick up Jane. Rose, the dog, was excited and hopeful about tagging along. I remarked that he could take her with him and he said he planned on it. But as soon as he opened the door and she ran out, he was yelling at her. His frustration rose as he called to her and angrily deposited her back in the house, like he always does when she runs off instead of waiting for him by the car.
As she ran past me, I first noticed the ridge of hair along her back. Obviously, she had been chasing something. Then I noticed a bit of foam around her mouth and heard her snorting. Then. Then I smelled it. Just as she took off down to the boys’ room. Within seconds, my husband opened the door.
“Did she get skunked?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, wrinkling my nose.
“I just smelled it,” he said apologetically. He almost looked grief stricken and torn. Hal was about to be late to his first ever basketball practice. “Can you get Daryl to help?”
“Just go,” I said, as I headed to the supply box that had the extra bottle of hydrogen peroxide and the rubber gloves. I called to Rose who ran into her crate. I called to Daryl to get her on the leash and back outside. I Googled the deskunking recipe. I mixed the ingredients. Daryl hurried in and said that Rose had been rolling on the grass and managed to unfasten her collar and run off. He couldn’t see her since it was dark.
I grabbed the flashlight, found the discarded collar and leash outside, and chased down the dog. Then he held her more tightly while I went back inside for the supplies. We did the usual soap her up with peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, rinse her (and us, incidentally) with the garden hose, wash her with the dog shampoo, and dry her the best we could.
At one point, as we struggled with a squirming, wet, stinky, bleeding (she rubs her face raw when this happens) dog, we heard a little chirping bark sound a little ways off. Is that the skunk? I thought. Daryl echoed my thoughts out loud. The noises continued. “I think that skunk is mocking us,” Daryl said. I couldn’t help but agree. I certainly felt mocked.
The brief times I had been in the house, I could tell that the house was going to stink to high heaven. Not wanting to exacerbate the problem, I kept her outside. Daryl and I stripped down and threw our clothes and his sheets in the washing machine. We used the meager supply of Febreeze on the carpet and couch. I attempted to dry off my best and newest pair of dress boots that I had been wearing when the incident occurred.
I wrote on the chore calendar that Daryl, who had clearly not been enjoying himself but never once complained or refused to do what I asked, had earned an extra $2. When Jane returned home, I ordered her to fix Daryl some hot chocolate. When I returned from picking up Hal, I sprayed Daryl’s bed, which stunk terribly, with the new bottle of Febreeze before pulling the guest mattress in their room for him to sleep on instead.
All in all, it was an exhausting and stinky evening. Anyone want a dog?