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Skunk Smell Removal, or How I Know I Am Not a Redneck

| 1/8/2010 4:21:10 PM

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykOkay, it’s about dogs, again. One hot July night, about 11 p.m., I let the dogs out. Before I could say, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, there’s a skunk! The poor unfortunate animal was hanging from The Big Black Dog’s mouth. Now, I have smelled skunk along the road, drifting on foggy clouds of exhaust from semis. I have smelled skunk when it hung in the bushes near the latrine at Girl Scout camp. But I am telling you right now, fresh, dead, last gasp, final effort skunk is a gas from hell. The only thing I have ever smelled/tasted/felt that was worse was when I learned you should not move a bloated ground hog carcass with a pitchfork. But that’s a story for another time.

I shouted at poor Big Black Dog, and he dropped the little toxic fur bag and went to stand on the lawn, out of reach. Big Brown Girl Dog came from where she was hiding in the bushes and stood next to him, consoling him about how sad it was to live with humans who had no sense of the value of killing rodents. The smell was so pervasive and so bad it woke the Big Man up – two floors up in the master bedroom. He calls down, “What do you want me to do?” but in a nice way. I said, “You take care of the body, I’ll take care of the dogs.” You see, you can’t just bury a dead skunk somewhere in the garden – the dogs will dig it up. You can’t just throw it in the trash can, the dogs will drag it out. And you can’t throw it across the road because ... well, you get the picture. I gave no more thought to the body, I had an estimated 227 pounds of stinky dog to deal with.

Big Black Dog and Little White Dog

The standard of treatment for a skunk attack is tomato juice baths. I drifted into a defensive, procrastinating reverie as to WHY this is and WHO discovered it – what desperate, foul ancient domestic episode was so intense, so bizarre that a woman (I know it had to be a woman) went into her pantry, got out the tomato juice and poured it on a dog in an effort to get rid of skunk smell. Maybe she had an extensive knowledge of chemistry, which led to a thought process like this, “I have a stinky dog, he got sprayed by a skunk. While my husband is out skinning the skunk to make me a nice hat, I have determined that skunk musk is composed of trans-2-Butenyl thioacetate (12-18 percent), trans-2-Butene-1-thiol (38-44 percent), 3-Methylbutanyl thioaceteate (2-3 percent), 3-Methly-1-butanethiol (18-26 percent), 2-Methlyquinoline (4-11 percent),2-Quinolinemethyl thioacetate (1-4 percent), and 2-Quinolinemethanethiol (3-12 percent) – this was a striped skunk as opposed to a spotted skunk, in which case the chemical composition of the musk would be varied slightly at trans-2-Butene-1-thiol (30-36 percent), 3-Methyl-1-butanethiol (48-66 percent), 2-Phenylethanethiol (2-5 percent), other volatile compounds (less than 1 percent) – discharged with a slight turning motion so that a nearly invisible stream that separated into raindrop sized particles traveled 30-45 degrees toward the dog/target. This volatile spray has bonded with the dog’s skin and fur and will require an acidic bath to be removed. What non-toxic acidic liquid can I apply to the dog that is cheap and readily available, will not harm the dog, but will remove the odor? Perhaps an alpha hydroxy? Malic? Tartaric? Lactic? AH! Tomato juice!”

It’s more likely that sheer desperation caused her to use whatever she had on hand and that she experimented first with peanut butter, Cheese Whiz, oven cleaner and Windex, finally ending up with the tomato stuff when everything else was exhausted.

I have since learned that feminine hygiene douches will also work, but I didn’t have any of those. I do not know how that was discovered but it seems to make sense at a level that tomato sauce does not.

Rodeo Princess
1/23/2010 10:20:42 AM

Thanks, Oz girl~ That was the first and only time any of my dogs ever killed a skunk. Big Black Dog, I think, confused it with a groundhog in the dark or something. However, we live fairly close to the road and several times since, cars have hit them right under my bedroom window and THAT always shakes me out of a good night's sleep. Love Chocolate Labs! Big Black dog is gone now, and so is the Chessie that was his girlfriend. Now we have an American Bulldog, an English Bulldog, the same Jack Russell - he is ancient and will apparently live forever - and a Manchester. I'm gonna check out your blog!

Oz Girl
1/22/2010 1:11:25 PM

I think even I would have drawn the line at using my expensive vodka cream sauce!! Poor pups! Our chocolate lab tangled with a skunk a few years ago (he never has since, must've learned a lesson I presume)... he wasn't allowed in the house for days, and I finally took mercy on him and washed him but good with the hose, in 50 degree weather. Poor guy, he kept trying to get away from me, very sneakily and stealthily. The bath helped some, but once I let him in the house, you could smell that weird lingering strange funky smell (like you mentioned). Personally, I'm a Taco Bell fan. :-] Great post, I really enjoyed it. Oz Girl

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