August 13, 2007
A pleasant evening, it started out to be. The kids were all tucked in and sleeping. The husband was still out of town but we were connected electronically, chatting on instant messenger. The dog, still not feeling well and freshly medicated, was snoozing at my feet. I was starting to wonder if she was having selective pain, after she spent the day acting really groggy but then somehow snapped to attention and leapt into action the moment one of the kids left a hotdog unattended on the table…little did I know.
It was around 10:30 PM so I decided to let the dog out for her last trip. I left her out a few minutes and when I returned to the door she was standing on the deck (probably never having left), looking out into the yard. I called her, she ignored me, and that should’ve been a clue. She had been really depressed about her leg all day though, and I just figured she was enjoying the fresh air (which I apparently should’ve been doing as well, while I had the chance). I called her again, she crouched and took a running dive off the deck; drugs and injury be damned. I yell more, I hear snarling, collar jangling, and I realize nothing, and I mean NOTHING good can come of this. The husband is out of town; whatever she’s killing out there I’m going to have to “take care of” somehow on my own. My main concern at this point is getting her back in the house, minus whatever she just attacked. A few seconds later I hear her coming, and she skips the stairs entirely and leaps back onto the deck (because $350.00 worth of leg x-rays and diagnosis was SO yesterday!). I do a quick check and see nothing of the wrong fur color hanging anywhere hear her mouth. I sigh in relief, and she flies past me into the family room, stopping right outside my bedroom door.
After going about the business of locking up and drawing the drapes across the doorway, I realize it sounds like she’s rolling around over there, so I look across the two rooms separating us and see…foaming at the mouth. FOAMING at the mouth! She’s all wild-eyed and crazy looking, shaking her head around and just generally looking like she wishes she could peel off her own skin and then…only then, did I smell it. Skunk.
At this moment, everything froze into one of those slow motion moments where you hear yourself yelling “NOOOooooo” in that kind of drawn out slow motion way and you also realize you’re SO screwed AND even worse, you have no idea what to do about it. So I stood there a second, looking back at the door to the backyard, knowing that opening it back up would only invite more stench in, and putting the dog back out there would probably mean she’d go roll all over the spot that it happened at – this because I’ve seen the special joy she takes in rolling in ridiculously disgusting things before. “The garage!” I think. I run for my keys, which are kept past where the dog is still practically bouncing off the walls in the family room. As I pass her, she approaches me and I take one hand off my nose in order to do the universal sign of “stay the hell away from me”, which she for once seemed to understand…either that or she was frightened by the wild look in *my* eyes. My keys aren’t there. I remember they’re in the other room, so I make my way back past the moving mass of stench, find my keys, and pass the computer on the way. I remember that he’s still on there, probably wondering why I’ve disappeared. So I stop for one second, type “dog problem, have to go” and consider myself really stalwart for not adding, “I can’t believe you’re out of town, this is ALL your fault!” Nothing happens. I hit “send” again, nothing. Connection lost. I consider it a metaphor for the fingernail hold I had on sanity, and abandon all hope. I head toward the garage with the keys, and the phone rings. I keep going, but then remember that it’s probably *him* and if I don’t answer, he’ll assume he should send the cops! I go back, grab a phone and take it with me while I run out to the garage, and back the car out. Three points for me for not sticking her in the garage with the car since that just would’ve resulted in my getaway vehicle being skunked as well, and I was pretty sure at the time that I would need the getaway vehicle soon. I’ll not relate the short telephone conversation; I’m pleading the fifth. Suffice it to say that neither of us will tell you I sounded sane.
Not wanting to touch the furry mass of odorificness I had to demand, beg and plead her into the garage. Had I been thinking straight I’d have just opened the door to the garage and walked away, since she always wants to sneak out there. Apparently my demanding she go out the door she’s always told to stay away from raised some doggie radar or something. Anyway, I got her out there. This is the point where some of my more dog loving friends should stop reading (Sally, I’m looking at you!) because there just comes a time when you have to consider your own sanity above all else. I stood for a moment, contemplating the baths it was going to take, the supplies I didn’t have on hand, the sleeping children, and the quickly deteriorating state of my mental acuity and then I acted. I opened the door and threw her bed out onto the floor of the garage. I filled a container with water and eased it out the door as well, and then I shut and locked it. Maybe if she weren’t fifty-five pounds and covered in what amounts to sheep wool when it comes to trying to bathe her, it would be one thing but, geez. I happily PAY people to wash her when she’s just regular dirty…like I can handle multiple washings in the middle of the night on my own?
At this point, I think I recall wandering aimlessly through my disgustingly smelly house and it’s possible there was crying, stomping, and ranting going on. I figured I better get the Internet connection back so I could look up what the hell I was supposed to do next (And really? Thank God for the Internet!). I reset all that, and when it came back I fired off an email to a friend…because apparently I wasn’t quite done sounding like a lunatic…? I took a shower, put my clothes in a sealed trash bag and then took the laptop to my bedroom (the door to which I had wisely thought to close during the whole process earlier), which still seemed somewhat untouched by the smell. I set about gathering information on how to take care of the issue. My family room was reeking unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. Let me just take a moment to inform you that if you have driven past a dead skunk and smelled “that smell”, and you think that is how it actually smells when you’re up close and personal to the actual spraying? You are so naïve. I have never, EVER smelled anything like this in my life. It’s just…indescribable. Most of the house had the regular skunk odor that we’re used to smelling on unfortunate occasions, but the family room? Unbelievable. It’s an entirely different odor, and a thousand times worse. Anyway, the Internet informed me that a mixture of peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap was the only thing that actually worked to remove the smell. Everything else just covers the smell. Good “covers” are tomato juice, coffee, and vinegar. I chose vinegar, and promptly placed small bowls of apple cider vinegar in my bedroom, the family room, the kitchen, etc. I didn’t have everything else I needed on hand (who keeps four unopened bottles of peroxide around? One seems so…sufficient.) so I tried to sleep. The vinegar did help somewhat, but you just can’t get that smell out of your own nose once it’s there. I felt bad for the dog, out there with all that nastiness, in the garage (where we very rarely put her) for the night, and with an injury (but then, if it hurt that much maybe we should’ve avoided the whole running attack dive into a fricken SKUNK thing in the first place). I can’t say I slept well.
The next morning, I let her out into the back yard, hopefully to air out. I gathered the kids, and off we went for supplies. The clerk at CVS gave me a look when I bought two big bottles of peroxide (I’ve always only seen one size, who knew they made bigger ones?), baking soda, rubber gloves and dish soap…I had Dawn, but I read that something with less of a degreaser was actually better. I probably got the same look you get when you buy nit remover and the like. Kind of a mixture between pity and “I’m so glad I’m not you”. As the person buying, you can’t help but wonder what all is meant by the “Have a nice day” at the end either. How do you respond to that? “Oh, you can see I will!” I kind of chuckled and said a “yeah” sarcastically – it seemed better than “Are you trying to be funny, bitch?” what with the kids there and all. The Peroxide concoction works by oxygenation, so when you put it all together (like when you make a science project volcano) it fizzes all up and you use that to wash the dog with. It’s always difficult for me to imagine that peroxide won’t bleach, but then I realized I couldn’t care less if she came out tie-dyed, as long as she smelled better.
I got all the supplies together, clipped the dog to a leash over by the garden hose (Sally, are you still gone? Because no, it’s not heated water but dunking a cup in water in the bathtub to rinse just does NOT work on her fur…I’d still be rinsing in 2009.) and started pouring in the highly chemically reactive ingredients. And…nothing. No reaction whatsoever. No bubbling up…absolutely no volcanic activity. Seriously. How does peroxide and baking soda NOT react? The dog is waiting, so I dump it on anyway, rubbing it in and letting it sit. While it’s soaking, I try to mix up another batch, with a new bottle of peroxide because obviously that bottle was defective. Again, nothing. By now I’m kind of laughing like a true mad scientist, and the kids are just looking at me blankly while I keep repeating “How can this not be working?”. I still do not know the answer, it was very, very humid that day…but I have no idea if that could’ve affected things or not. I dumped the second batch out, and rinsed the first mess off her. It did seem to help a little, but she still reeked.
I loaded the kids back into the car, drove to another store, bought everything except the gloves all over again. I thought maybe a different brand of soap might make the difference, or maybe the soda was bad? Went through the “Oh you poor woman, have a nice day, *snicker, snicker*, thing all over again. Also went through 85 questions from the kids about why we had to go shopping for all the same stuff again. Back home again, I mixed up another batch, which again did not react. I used this batch on the carpet of my family room anyway, because something was going to have to be done if we were supposed to keep living in this house. In the midst of all that, the vet’s office called to tell me they had the dog’s pain prescription ready and I managed to agree to go pick it up without sputtering, cursing, or crying. I’m starting to think if you sniff enough vinegar you get a little zoned out, honestly. I mixed up a fourth batch of useless peroxide and baking soda and doused the dog one more time. She definitely did seem a bit better, but everything I read was pretty clear that it was the reaction that made the real difference, so I wasn’t convinced. Plus I’ve learned that when you spend time around it, you *think* the smell is getting better and then when you leave and return? Wham. So not better.
I found another recipe that used vinegar instead of peroxide, so we made another trip to a third store, and replaced the peroxide and baking soda once again. This time when I mixed it up and received the now usual non-reaction, I dumped in a healthy dose of vinegar and *ta-da*, volcanic action ensued. For all I knew, adding peroxide and vinegar together created toxic gas and mushroom clouds, but by this time it just didn’t matter much. You move from “tie-dyed or smelly?” to “big fricken hole in the ground where your house used to be or smelly?” in a remarkably quick fashion under these circumstances, believe me. We washed her down once more, let it soak awhile, and rinsed. She’s MUCH better now. The stuff really does work. She still has a faint odor around the top of her nose area; you have to be careful around the eyes with this stuff so that was a difficult spot to get. It doesn’t matter much since the house still has a definite odor to it, in the one room at least. We scrubbed the carpet, and everywhere we scrubbed it removed the odor, but I have a feeling the crawling around on the floor and locating a new spot that needs treating might just go on for all the weeks it takes for the stuff to fade naturally. Anything she touched, anything splatters she shook off touched; pretty much everything in sight could be the main culprit for the lingering odor. It became really tiring and at some point it seemed more prudent to just leave the house as much as possible and wait for more energy to tackle it all again. Of course going anywhere opens up the whole “Let’s not tell every person we meet that our house smells like a skunk, okay?” dialogue with the kids, and goodness knows those conversations are always a treat. Apparently I don’t institute enough gag orders around here!
I’m trying to forgive the dog. I was telling the whole story to my husband and mentioned that I wanted to “kill her” and the kids overheard. It seems they don’t really filter to that whole “sarcastic, figurative exaggeration” thing and I received the cold shoulder from one while the other told me after my explanation that I didn’t mean literally kill that she’d “really rather” I didn’t “use that kind of exaggeration”. So yeah, I’m pretending that I’m just a very good lecturer and have taught them SO well and I’m ignoring all the other implications of that whole thing (Mom’s a closet wanna-be dog murderer!). I’m also really hoping this goes the way of the time she tried to take a bite of toad and was treated to what is apparently really horrible tasting pee on her tongue…she learned her lesson that time and now just huffily watches them from afar.
It’s also a
full-time job convincing yourself that maybe people can’t smell skunk on
*you* after you leave your house. I had to wash a bunch of clean laundry
that was near the scene of the incident again; along with everything we
wore during the clean up process. Vinegar goes in every load, and they do
come out smelling okay but once introduced to the air quality of Chateau
Mercurio? Who knows?
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