In early November I took the dogs to a forest preserve that we had not previously explored. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I was excited to walk through the woods and see what we would see. Just prior to our walk, I had finished a phone conversation with a friend who just a few days before had received an unexpected, devastating health diagnosis. I didn’t know it then, but this would be the last time I spoke to her. The following day she was moved into ICU and put on life support. It is all so hard to understand.
After I hung up the phone, the tears began to flow and somehow in my heart, I knew things would never be the same again. As I looked down at the dog’s eager faces, I figured a walk in the woods was exactly what I needed at that time.
I let the dogs lead the way and surrounded by the fresh air, the blue sky and the sun shining through the trees, I began to feel the peace of the moment take over my emotions. We were the only ones out there and all that I could hear were the leaves crunching under our feet and a babbling stream that was out of sight. By the time we found our way back to the car, my heartache had eased a bit and my head felt clear.
We’ve gone back to this place a few times, and just like that first experience, I am able let go of all of the things that are on my mind. I never shared this place with my friend, but when I am there I can’t help but think of her. Each time it gets a little easier as I remember the tiny moments we shared. Things I had forgotten that somehow come flooding back when there is no one else around aside from my dogs. It’s a place we all enjoy and I consider it a retreat from all of the stresses that swirl around as life goes on.
This image popped up on my Facebook memories yesterday and I must admit, my heart skipped a beat. We’ve been smelling a skunk for the last couple of weeks and I saw one scurry into a pipe in the alley. It’s time for full alert and preparation! Our current protocols include lights, bells and stomping on the deck before the dogs enter the yard.
Picture this, you’ve gone upstairs at the end of a long day to brush your teeth and get ready for bed. Dear husband has offered to let the dog out one last time and lock up. Over the sound of the running water you hear some God awful bellowing coming from downstairs. What emergency could possibly be going on in a matter of mere minutes? You run downstairs because you are obviously needed for something and then you get bowled over by the most horrific smell in the world. It burns your eyes, your nose and it is now in the house! Dog and husband are nowhere to be found, apparently they have rushed into the basement and are in the shower together rinsing her eyes.
It’s clear what has happened and I start running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Find laptop, look up de-skunking recipe. Find the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, where is the bottle of Dawn? For that matter, where is the damn mop bucket? Why is it never where I want it to be? Get rubber gloves, race downstairs like a mad women and begin mixing potion. Slop potion all over dog and let it soak in, all while your eyes are burning and both you and husband and most of the house now also smell like skunk.
In an effort to never re-live this chaotic scene again, I immediately stocked the basement with all of the supplies needed so that next time (please oh please, don’t let there be a next time) I will be prepared and can remain calm.
If you should ever find yourself in this terrible position, here are the action steps you should take immediately:
Time is of the essence. The longer you wait to begin the process, the harder it will be to remove the stink. If possible, keep the dog outside but if that’s not an option because its too dark, too cold or any other logical reason put them in the bathroom as quickly as possible and open a window for your own comfort.
Put on some rubber gloves and check your dog for any signs of injury. Their eyes will probably be red so wipe their face with a dry paper towel and then rinse their eyes with cold water or a sterile saline eye wash to relieve the discomfort. If redness and irritation continue, or if you see any signs of scratches or bites, contact your vet immediately.
Don’t soak the dog before you put the solution on, try to absorb as much of the skunk oil as possible by wiping their head and body with with dry paper towels.
In a plastic bucket mix together:
1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (available at any pharmacy)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap. Dawn is the best de-greaser on the market, so use Dawn.
Wearing rubber gloves, apply this solution immediately after they’ve been sprayed (and after you have absorbed as much skunk oil as possible with dry paper towels). DO NOT get the solution in their eyes. Caution:Do NOT store this mixture or make it ahead of time, as the mixture could explode if left in a bottle.
Rub the mixture through their fur, but don’t leave it on too long (peroxide can bleach fur). Rinse them thoroughly.
Wash them with dog shampoo and dry them as you normally do.
You will probably want to de-stink your clothes so wash them with detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda.
Don’t be surprised if the smell reappears in a few days or when they get wet. We had to wash Maisie several days in a row, and the peroxide mixture did make the fluffy fur under her neck dry and frizzy which is why I also bought the Nature’s Miracle. I think they both work equally as well and they both required several applications for Maisie. Maybe because she has so much fur and is double-coated, maybe her size, but most likely, it just takes a while to get rid of the stink.
I love Maisie’s thick mane under her neck and it took me months to admit that I needed to trim it way back to get it back to its normal texture. If she gets sprayed again, I will just trim/shave it down so that hopefully she won’t need so many applications to remove the stink. That is the area that held the smell the longest and I think that’s where she’s most likely to take a direct hit of skunk oil.
I also felt like I could still smell skunk days later. I would be at work and would catch a whiff. I was completely paranoid that I smelled but I was assured numerous times that I didn’t. I think the smell embedded in my nose and it took a while for it to go away.
If your house gets sprayed, call the professionals! I think skunk odor damage is similar to smoke damage and your walls, carpets, curtains, furniture and every stitch of clothing in the affected rooms will need to be deodorized. Smelling a skunk outside your window and having your house sprayed are two different things and I’ve known people who have had to spend big bucks to deodorize their home.
Here’s a couple of skunk fun-facts:
Skunks are most active at dawn and dusk, and in a full moon. They like the dim lighting associated with those times. When it’s pitch dark, they are likely to be more defensive.
They give birth in the Spring, anywhere from 1-7 babies, so by Fall they are all really active and running around.
Their defensive posture is to stomp their feet and raise their tail. It’s no wonder dogs mistake this for play posture and when they go in for a sniff, they get shot in the face.
Their predators include coyote, fox and owls. We live in an urban area and don’t have many of these predators so our skunk population is quickly getting out of control.
We should all thank Paul Krebaum. He is a chemist who in 1993 came up with this recipe of house hold items to get rid of skunk odor. It does a better job than the old methods of tomato juice, vinegar or Masengill douche.
Skunks spray one entire application at a time and it takes about four days for them to regenerate another dose. If you are really lucky during an unfortunate run-in, your dog might not get sprayed with a full power dose of unpleasantness.