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Skunks


Skunks are a normal part of my life out here in Colorado County, Texas.  We see them in the spring, like now, looking for mates.  Then we see the momma skunks later in the spring and often in the daylight searching for food.  This is more disturbing having been trained that any skunk you see in the daylight is sick and mostly sick means rabies.  But no.  Momma skunks really do hunt in the daylight when they have new babies in the nest.

Skunks may be a normal part of my life but having skunks and my dogs closely interact is NOT common.  If I open the back door at night and smell a strong whiff of skunk, the dogs will go out the front door on a leash to be walked rather than have the run of the back yard.  If I smell the musky smell of a skunk living in or near my barn I work very hard to discourage it's choice of homes.  Loud music and leaving all the lights on for a week or so usually does the trick.  I do not want my dogs to interact with any skunks.

Then there was last week.  Wednesday night we put Sadie out in the backyard one last time before heading off to bed.  I was sitting in my chair when I heard a brand new bark from her.  It was low and threatening but also loud and explosive.  Well, crap.

I rushed out the back door and found Sadie and a skunk doing a dance in a circle.  I could just make out what was going on because they were far enough back in the yard that there was no light.  Well, crap, indeed.  

I'm really glad we don't have any close neighbors.  I was shrieking at Sadie trying to call her off the skunk.  Ron was yelling at Sadie trying to call her off the skunk.  I'm sure we sounded like lunatics.  We finally just had to go back inside and let her kill the skunk.  There was no way either of us was going to run out into the dark and put ourselves between one very angry 70 pound dog and one even angrier black and white varmint that was spraying as much toxic skunk juice into the air as it could.

Sadie finally showed up at the back door but as soon as I cracked the door she ran back to her kill.  I wasn't going to let her back in the house with or without the skunk.  In the end I managed to grab Sadie's collar and Ron grabbed the skunk carcass with his long handled grabber tool and deposited it into the heavy forest across our back fence.

So instead of being safely in bed getting some sleep for our drive up to Little Rock, Arkansas the next day, I was out on the back deck trying to wash skunk smell off my dog at 11 pm.  Fortunately, I remembered the magic formula for skunk smell cleaning... Dawn dishwashing soap mixed with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.   I'm sure there is an actual formula but I figured if I got the three ingredients mixed up together the exact proportions weren't critical.

Sadie hadn't been that clean in all of her life.  I scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed and rinsed and then rinsed some more.  She wasn't at all happy about being tied to the post and drenched with cold water but her outlook on the entire experience was irrelevant.  Getting most of the stench off of her was my only concern.  The magic formula doesn't get all the smell off but it does make the smell manageable.  In the end I was willing to bring Sadie into the house and into her crate.

Peggy picked me up the following morning at about 6:30 am for our day long drive to Little Rock.  More about our amazing knitting class tomorrow.  I was groggy but I don't think I smelled at all like skunk.  I can't begin remember how many dead skunks we saw along the side of the roads between here and Little Rock.  It is clear they were all out looking for a good time.  We got back home on Sunday night and the dogs and the house still reek of skunk smell.  Thanks to the magic formula, it is a manageable smell.  Not good but nothing like fresh new skunk spray.

Sadie goes back to the vet later this week for a rabies booster although it was pretty clear to me that the skunk she killed was not rabid.  It was holding its own pretty well for a small critter faced with a much larger opponent.