Three a.m. the other night, I come out of the bedroom and into the hallway – the baby’s up, again – and my nostrils are met with the most pungent, stinging smell. My eyes begin watering, my nose, burning. It has an unfamiliar odor, chemical almost, like nothing I have in my memory with which to compare it. I bolt down the stairs to the living room, where J. has fallen asleep, again and wake him, demanding to know: What the hell is that smell??
I learn that an hour ago while taking Pepper the Collie outside before bed, she dashed off into the yard after something. Not unusual at all; Pepper has a very high prey drive, and will take off after Every. Single. Moving. Thing if we let her. She came back when J. called, sneezing and snuffling and coughing. J says that he thought she might have met up with a skunk, but after smelling her closely, didn’t smell anything and let her back into the house, closing her in the office.
Turns out that I guess there’s a delayed reaction in skunk oil. It also doesn’t get that characteristic *skunk* scent until much, much later. Now, as the smell has permeated the entire house to the point of making us all gag, it’s clear that yes, Pepper got into a fight with a skunk. And lost. Miserably. She got sprayed directly in the face and chest, at close range. And we’ve spent all of yesterday giving her half a dozen baths – forget the old myth of tomato juice, vinegar/baking soda/peroxide is supposedly where it’s at – and will probably give her many more before this is all over. She is smelling much better, but, unfortunately, I cannot say the same for our house. Frankly, given that this place has such a huge skunk population, I can’t believe this hasn’t happened sooner!
Unbelievably, it took about three full weeks before our house even began to smell not entirely like a skunk. Three weeks before Z. didn’t walk through the office and declare daily, “It STINKS in here!” And Pepper, well, let’s just say that one doesn’t want to go burying one’s nose in her mane, still. Yuck. I am amazed at what a clever, and powerful defense mechanism this is. Amazed that such a small, seemingly insignificant creature could yield such overpowering results, results that linger on and on.
I read that dogs who tussle with skunks are usually of two types:
- The clever dog who gets sprayed once, learns a valuable lesson, and never goes near a skunk again;
- The not-so-clever dog who, for whatever reason, just never learns and keeps going after them, again and again.
Pepper is a very clever dog, indeed. But I suspect she’s of a third type: The dog who KNOWS better, but who just can’t help herself and will gladly take on the opponent, should the opportunity arise. Needless to say, she will NOT be going in the yard in the dark unleashed ever, ever again.