Jan 31 2017

Skunked!

Ever have a morning when you think maybe you just shouldn’t have gotten out of bed? I had one the other day. At first, everything seemed fine. Joshua was sick, and I got up around 4 to check his temperature and get him some medicine, but hey, no big deal, right? I would have liked to have slept longer when the alarm woke us up at 5:30, but Greg had a surgery and I had to get Genevieve up for school. Not really anything out of the ordinary. Things didn’t really start getting interesting until we let the dogs in.

We currently have three dogs, Hypnos and Sterling are brothers-140 pound English mastiffs, and Meggie is an Australian cattle dog. The boys are actually very sensitive, and on that day, Hypnos had a particularly sad look on his face. I immediately went to comfort him with a hug and realized my mistake just a little too late. His head was slightly wet, and there was a pungent oily odor emanating from him, and unfortunately now me. He had gotten skunked!

I grabbed a towel and started rubbing his head vigorously to get what oil I could off. Then, since Sterling had been out with him, I started rubbing him down as well. Sadly, Sterling had not actually been sprayed, but now he smelled a bit like skunk as well. I decided that Greg would have to take Hypnos to work with him to get a bath. As I’m sure you could imagine, Greg was thrilled with the idea of riding to work with a dog that had just been skunked, as well as having the ENTIRE hospital smell like skunk for days, but I figured that was better than me and the house smelling like skunk. So, grumbling loudly, he walked out with the stinky dog, and tried to start our old car. Of course, it wouldn’t start. He tried several times, even tried to jump start it, but no dice. By this time he was late, and opted to take the truck, sans smelly dog, and head to work. I took Genvieve down to the bus stop and sent her off to school, contemplating a strategy to deal with said dog.

As I said before, Hypnos weighs 140 pounds. He is a very good dog, but that’s a lot of dog to bathe. Also, it was just above freezing outside. I briefly considered the bath tub and quickly dispensed with that idea: 1) don’t want him upstairs, 2) Don’t want the bathroom to smell like skunk for the next two weeks, 3) Don’t want to clog up the drain with hair, especially particularly smelly hair. I tried the car myself thinking I could take him to the pet wash at the car wash next to work, but of course, it didn’t start. The only option left was the yard and the hose. I donned my oldest, shabbiest warm clothing, gloves and my rubber boots and prepared for battle.

Naturally, being a veterinarian and living out in the country, I know the best, easiest and most effective treatment for getting rid of skunk odor. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t. In my career, I have often found the more remedies for a particular problem, the less effective any of them are. Have you seen how many remedies there are for skunk odor? Of course, the old standby is tomato juice. This just doesn’t work, and I don’t typically keep 5 or so gallons of tomato juice on hand. My old boss found a remedy in an old text book that recommended using dilute bleach. It works, but I just can’t feel good about bleaching a dog, no matter how stinky the dog or how dilute the bleach. My son found a remedy using baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. I had actually run across this remedy on a pet insurance website, and one person freaked out about using hydrogen peroxide on a dog. (I wonder what she would have said about the bleach remedy). Other comments followed saying how bad it was for a
veterinarian to recommend such a harmful treatment. (This is why I hate Dr. Google). Yes, it is true, getting hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s eyes is really bad, but people GARGLE with it. It is in toothpaste for Heaven’s sake. I think it is okay to put on your dog’s skin. Anyway, I am a skeptic, and I don’t have gallons of hydrogen peroxide and pounds of baking soda sitting around waiting for one of my dogs to get skunked. I opted for warm water and dish detergent. Did it help? Some. Did Hypnos still smell like skunk? Yes. So I blocked him in the kitchen and prepared to go take care of the horses, about an hour later than normal.

Then, the phone rang. It was the school nurse. My first thought was that she was calling to say Genevieve had contracted strep from Joshua, and had to go home. Naturally, that was not the case. She called because Genevieve smelled bad and was disrupting class because of the odor. Genevieve had not touched Hypnos, had not been in the same room with him, and had not touched me. However, she apparently smelled so bad that her first period class had to change class rooms, her teacher said it smelled like something had died, and eventually, she was sent to the school nurse, so I could pick her up, and “clean her up a little.” That was a first for me, but I guess it is routine because Genevieve told me that two other kids had been sent home that week for the same reason. At this point, I’m thinking the military might consider looking into skunk spray as a potential for a biological weapon. I’m sure someone has already thought of that, but they probably couldn’t find anyone willing to put up with the smell.

I finally get home and am appreciating having help to feed our poor, starving horses. I take the dogs, as usual, hoping that the skunks have had enough for one day. The dogs wandered off, so I called them back to us, and they run back enthusiastically. I am petting our Australian cattle dog and Sterling comes barreling up, and rams me right in the nose with the top of his head. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings. and all I can think is “why did I even bother getting out of bed.”

So, if you see me this week, and I have a couple black eyes or a swollen nose, it’s not that Greg is beating me. I just have a couple of rambunctious Mastiffs.

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