My dog and I stepped outside Sunday for her last potty break of the night. I had barely closed the door when she took off, chasing something and moving fast. Before I had time to react, she was on the far side of the yard, stopped in her tracks, shaking her head violently. She had met her first skunk, and the skunk won.
Until this point, I had only encountered dead skunks and their unlovely smell along the highway. What filled the air Sunday night was something acrid and burning and immediately horrible, beyond what I would have imagined possible from a skunk.
I had no idea what to do, other than to keep her outside. She had taken a direct hit to the face and right away pulled her green bandana off with her front paw. My husband scoured the internet and made a hasty trip to the nearest grocery store for peroxide. He had to go right back for more.
I’m not sure how many baths and partial baths she has had since Sunday night. Yesterday, when we got home from running (which felt more like running with a skunk on a leash instead of a dog), I looped her leash to an outdoor hook and got ready to give her another partial bath. She looked up at me and then lay down and rolled over in surrender. “Please not again.” I’m pretty sure that’s what she would have said if she could talk.
I don’t know many people here yet, but the ones I have told about the “skunking” almost all have stories of their own to share and several have rattled off the recipe for the de-skunk bath (I’ll share it below). One new friend said her dog gets a skunk bath pretty often at her mother’s house.
This does not give me hope my dog has learned a lesson. She loves to chase more than she loves to learn.
All the stories also do not give me hope that this is a rare occurrence. Yesterday, when I was at the pet store buying my second bottle of Skunk Odor Remover, the cashier said, “Oh, this stuff is great. I use it all the time.” My heart sank. Really? You need to use it all the time?
I’ve heard that it may take a month or two to totally get rid of the smell. One internet site said it could take up to two years. That’s a long time to have a skunky dog.
In good news, the sun is finally out today, working its magic on the laundry that is supposed to dry in the sun (door mats, towels, clothes my husband and I wore while cleaning the dog, the dog’s bedding, etc.). I didn’t give the dog even a partial bath today. And she is comfortable enough in the back yard to actually lie down in a sunny spot. In this picture, she’s down but alert, keeping an eye on the part of the yard where the skunking occurred. She’s still skittish in certain places outside, and when a branch from an orange tree brushed her when she walked by it earlier today, she jumped. Baby steps, I guess.
So this has been a tough week, but I’ve learned something new, and maybe someday soon, my backyard will go back to its usual smells instead of the lingering aroma of scared skunk. And perhaps my dog will not go after the next skunk she sees. Just in case, though, I’m stocking up on de-skunking supplies.
By the way, if you read last week’s post, you know that I’m declaring a victor from time to time in an unofficial (and light-hearted) Northern California/North Carolina contest. This week’s winner should come as no surprise, but lest you cannot guess, let me explain: Until moving to Northern California, I have never once had a conversation about a dog getting skunked. I don’t have any North Carolina friends (at least that I know of) who could rattle off the bath recipe without a second thought. My dad tells me he recently heard that there are no skunks in Wake County (where Raleigh, NC, is). And so, when it comes to NC2NC this week’s win is a total rout:
Better luck next time, Northern California.
And in case any of you out there need the skunk bath recipe, here it is (halve this for a small dog):
2 quarts 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup baking soda
4 tsps Dawn dish detergent
Mix and pour immediately on the dog, using rubber gloves to work up a lather (I used my bare hands and wished I hadn’t). Try to avoid the eyes and nose (hard to do when the dog takes the spray straight to the face). Some sites say to let stand for 5-10 minutes, but others say to remove immediately. I rinsed as quickly as possible and repeated several times before following up with dog shampoo and a towel dry. I did this all again Monday morning, and then Monday afternoon started with the skunk product from the pet store. I recommend dipping the dog’s feet completely into the bucket for maximum coverage.
Good to know: Tomato juice is a myth and will not do anything but mask the smell. Also good to know: You may lose your appetite for a few days after your dog’s skunking. The smell gets in your nose and will not leave, making for some really unappetizing meals. (I’m not recommending this as the next diet craze, but it may curb your appetite. Just to be really clear, though, I AM NOT recommending this as a diet strategy.)
So how about you? Do you have any dog-meets-skunk tales? Did the dog ever win? Did the dog ever learn? I’d love to hear your stories.