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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.

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.

Published on Mar 23, 2012

Grit Magazine

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