Adventures in Lab Land

Animal Outings

Happenings at home and at work with the animals.

Since we live on a major highway, our yard is fenced to keep the dogs safe. They love swimming in the ponds when it's hot, but that means someone has to take them, and we don't always have time. So, a couple of weeks ago, when the temperature hit 90 degrees, we went to the local hardware store and bought them a baby pool.

First time in the pool this spring. 

They couldn't wait for it to fill. They were in it before we even got the hose in and turned on.

Maggie splashing in pool. 

This is our 9-year-old Lab, Maggie. She looks old, with lots of gray hair, but she doesn't act any older than our 2-year-old, Boone. Her favorite thing to do is dig in the pool and splash water all over herself. Then she takes her nose and dips it in the water like she's retrieving something, even though she's not.

Boone splashing in the pool. 

Here's Boone digging at the bottom of the pool. I wonder where he learned to do that!

Maggie in the pond. 

They were enjoying the pool so much, even though it's not really big enough for two big ol' Labrador Retrievers (Maggie weighs 109, Boone 118). Since we didn't have much planned for the day, we decided to really make their day, so we took them down to the pond. When Maggie hits the pond, she loses herself in her own world. She sees nothing and nobody, and she hears nothing and nobody. She would swim for days if we'd let her. Once she gets in, she is in until we manage to trick her into getting out, which normally takes about 30 minutes. We've timed her swimming adventures, and her longest swim was just shy of an hour. Now, when I say she swam for almost an hour, I mean she swam. She didn't get out once. She absolutely loves swimming, and since she has arthritis now, the vet says swimming is the best exercise for her - and she is more than happy to exercise.

Boone swimming in the pond. 

Boone, on the other hand, loves to swim, but he also loves to run in the pasture. One of his favorite things to do is run around for a few minutes, then run full speed and splash into the pond. Once he's in the pond, he swims over to where Maggie is and asks her to play. However, she turns tail and swims away. He's finally (after two years) realizing that when Maggie is swimming, he is on his own.

In other animal news, we have three geese at work that have been making regular appearances for the past few weeks. Our back parking lot slopes, so when it rains, it creates a nice pool for them. They started out just bathing in the pool after a rain, and within a few days, they began making themselves at home. They seem friendly and will walk right up to you.

Goose on company truck. 

Here is one of them standing tall on the company truck in the back parking lot. It looks like he's checking out our shipping department through the dock door. Maybe he's planning a trip to tour the building in the near future.

Geese in garden at Ogden. 

A few days later, our visitors helped themselves to some goodies in the community garden in front of the building. Provided with food for the taking, as well as a nice watering hole for bathing, I think they just might be here to stay.


A Skunk Tale

Traci Smith headshotSeveral weeks ago on a Wednesday night, after getting home from work and finishing up the chores, I went inside to start supper. Maggie and Boone, our dogs, decided they wanted to go out, so I let them out. A few minutes later, I heard them barking, which is normal, but this was a different bark.

Seconds later – and I mean seconds – I smelled what I thought was a gas leak. Deciding the dogs would be OK for a few minutes, I started looking for a leak. The smell was so strong, it was hard to breathe. Needing fresh air, I went to the door and walked outside. Turns out the “gas leak” was actually a skunk – in the yard, chasing the dogs. Before I knew what was happening, the skunk turned and sprayed again, this time hitting Maggie. Luckily, Boone didn’t get sprayed.

Maggie and Boone
Our loyal and mischievous Labrador Retrievers, Maggie and Boone. 

I have never seen a skunk chase a dog, let alone two 100-pound black Labs, so I was pretty sure it was rabid. I hollered for the dogs and got them in the house. Bad idea, I know, but I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to take a chance of them getting bit by a rabid skunk. So, now, in addition to having a tough time breathing, my eyes were watering, I felt sick, and I had both dogs right beside me, letting me know they were protecting me. You’ve got to love their loyalty!

Leaving the dogs inside, I went back outside. No skunk in sight. The only sign of it was the lingering smell. Well, you can’t shoot a skunk if you can’t see it, but you can trap it – if you’re lucky. We weren’t lucky. We set a trap, but never saw the skunk again, although his “perfume” stuck around for about a week and a half.

I didn’t think the skunk had got close enough to the dogs to bite them, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I called the vet the next morning and told him what happened. He checked their records, and they were up to date on their rabies vaccinations, but he had us bring them in for a booster anyway. He chuckled when I told him Maggie had been sprayed, and then he gave me a recipe that I will always treasure.

For those of you who’ve been lucky enough to never have seen the spray of a skunk up close, it’s oily – thick, greasy and oily. Anyway, the vet said to mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of Dawn dish soap (to cut the grease) with an entire bottle of peroxide and 1/4 cup of baking soda (both of these ingredients kill the smell) in a bowl. Mix it up thoroughly and rub it on the dog. Be very careful not to get it in the dog’s eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Lather it up real good, then rinse it out. He said to be sure and rinse Maggie extremely well or she would turn gray from the peroxide. She’s almost 9, so she’s already gray in areas, but we rinsed her way better than she wanted to be rinsed, in order to make sure most of her stayed black.

Bathing Maggie is no easy job. She’s 100 pounds, so her baths are given outside in the baby pool. She hasn’t been in the shower since she was little enough that I could manhandle her. However, since it was raining and kind of cold outside, we opted for the shower. Maggie loves water, but she did not like taking a shower one bit. We bathed her every night for a week, and by about the fourth night, she just looked at me as if she was saying, “OK, Mom, just hurry up and get it over with.”

Between Maggie’s baths, every article of clothing, as well as all the bedding and towels had to be washed (in a wonderful product called Odoban). The curtains got taken down and washed, the rugs got thrown out and replaced with new ones, and the carpets got steam cleaned. It was a torturous week. Unless you’ve had this happen to you firsthand, you have no idea how awful the smell is – and how long it hangs around.

If I never see another skunk, it will be too soon. I will, however, hang on to the recipe for getting the smell of skunk out of a dog, just in case.