When Will They Learn?

This year, the skunk population has jumped.  Our neighbour has a den behind its shed and another has a skunk family under its back deck.   Since Zeda loves to play with any four-legged creature big or small,  and she has had more than one skunk encounter, I am on my guard in the morning and at night, and our walks are typically in the safety zone of busier streets.

A few mornings ago, Zeda woke us up at 4:30.  We had walked her at 10:00 so we were fairly certain that she didn’t need to get out – but wanted to get out.  By 5:30, I gave up and took her for a walk.  Even then, when we got home, she headed straight to the back door and whimpered again. “It’s still too early,” I told her, but she didn’t listen.  I showered and was grateful that she settled down by the time I had finished but, sure enough, by 7:00 she had returned to her whining at the door.  “The sun’s been up for almost an hour” I thought and I didn’t see any sign of backyard creatures, so I let her out.  She bolted towards the fence only to turn around and dart back towards the house.

“Dave!  Zeda has been hit by a skunk!” I yelled as Zeda ran towards me.  The early morning whining now made sense.  I grabbed Zeda by her collar to take her into the garage,  but it was too late; Zeda managed to rub her face into the carpet, leaving eau de skunk behind.  And as she moved to the garage, she saturated the air with even more and, somehow, permeated our freshly cleaned clothes hanging in the laundry room with that same stink.  It was clear that the rest of my day was going to be spent cleaning.

Needless to say, the next few hours were spent bathing the dog in Vagasil (yes, vagasil.  You can read about that dog-owner hack here), washing floors, deodorizing the carpet, doing laundry, showering (more than once) and running the diffuser non-stop to purify our home.  By noon, things were under control when Dave called me from the kitchen.  “Cynthia, look, I caught a skunk.  Oh, wow, it’s a big one too.  Come look!”

“You caught a skunk?”  I actually wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly and went into the kitchen feeling somewhat perplexed.  “What do you mean you caught a skunk?”

“Well, I’ve been trying to catch that squirrel that keeps getting into the bird feed, but I caught a skunk instead.”

“You set a trap in the backyard to catch an animal and you didn’t tell me?  We have a dog!  It would have been a good idea to tell me!”  It quickly became obvious that the skunk was trapped in the middle of the night – most likely around 4:30 a.m. – and sprayed Zeda a few hours later when she went out to play.   Then it was Dave’s turn to be confused.  “Oh…that’s what happened….” Seriously, I can’t make up this kind of stupid, only to be followed with more.  “Wait.  Why was Zeda outside for most of the morning, and the skunk was there, but they stayed away from each other?”

“Would you go back if you got skunked?” I asked.   “And….just how do you suggest we get rid of the said skunk?”

“Well, I can put it in the car and drive it up north to release it….or….”

Bye bye, Stinky!

After a bit of animated discussion, we decided to call a pest removal company to take the critter away for us.  We did have to wait until the next morning but Zeda seemed quite happy to avoid the backyard altogether.

Later that day, I hesitated whether to go to a hot yoga class, worried that the smell had gone into my pores. “I’ll be fine,” I thought.  I’ve showered twice and my yoga stuff is clean.   Even though I felt somewhat confident that I was clean, as I walked into the studio and placed my gear on the floor, I looked around to see if anyone might be giving me the stink-eye.  Then, during class, I tried not to cringe as the instructor put her hands on my back to help me move into a deeper stretch; as she walked away, I peeked to see if she was twitching her nose or wiping her hands on a towel.   There was no reaction.  Phew!  I passed the test.

Exactly a week later, my mind wandered back to the skunk escapades as Zeda and I left for her morning walk.   We had just turned onto the sidewalk at the bottom of our driveway and, completely unexpectedly, we came face to to face with another skunk at the bottom of our driveway.  The skunk looked perplexed as it had just climbed out of our neighbour’s garbage, tilted its head as it stared at us and didn’t know what to do.   I did.  I froze and so did my dog but worried about how long Zeda would stay.  Would she jump?  Would she bark?  Did she even realize that this was the same creature that sprayed her the week before?

“No, Zeda,” I said, and we slowly walked away in the other direction while I crossed my fingers and held my breath.  By the time we got home, it was gone.  And needless to say, Zeda did not go in the backyard that morning no matter how much she whined.

A Most Unfortunate Side Effect of Not Running

During the first few days of dealing with my hamstring (now named Tammy the Hamstring.  Why not name your hamstring?), it hurt to walk but it was Zeda who really suffered.  Gone were our morning walks; our 5K afternoon walks were also put on hold until I felt more mobile.  In the mornings, I let Zeda out in the backyard, fed her and watched her sulk until one of the boys woke up and could take her around the block.

On Friday morning, Zeda went outside, roamed the yard and visited her usual spots.  She found a stick to chew, mud to dig into and a skunk to play with.  Well, somebody forgot to tell the skunk that Zeda just wanted to play.    The backyard reeked.  It was so bad that I initially couldn’t tell if it was the yard or her that smelled.  I called Zeda and did the sniff test; Dave smelled her too.  We agreed that it must have been the neighbour’s dog that got skunked because she didn’t smell all that stinky…until she had been inside for about 10 minutes.  I heard bedroom doors suddenly slam shut.  It was obvious that our Zeda had been skunked.

Zeda and I headed back outside to bathe her.  Dave bought a skunk shampoo a few months ago – the “just in case” purchase that makes perfect sense after 3 previous late night skunkings with Chase, our previous fur-baby.   Zeda had a 45 minute bath with 3 shampoos and rinses.  The next day, Dave washed her again. The smell still lingered.

While he walked her that afternoon, a fellow dog-parent told Dave, “Do you know what really works?  A female douche.  (Is there any other kind?)  It’s full of chemicals and takes the smell out.”  So, when Dave got home, he asked me to pick up a “female douche.”

“A what???”

“It’s suppose to work.  So if you’ll get one, I’ll help you with it.”

“You want me to go to the drug store to get a douche shampoo?  I know kids who work at there.  There is always one of my former students on cash on Saturdays.  They’ll talk… or start a rumour.”  Dave looked at me and repeated, “I’ll help you.  Get the product: a female douche. This is out of my territory.”

Obviously.  I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.  It was bad enough that Zeda got hit by a skunk because Tammy was being a pain in the butt and making it difficult for me to walk.  But now I had to go to the drug store to pick up a douche shampoo.  I toyed with the idea of driving to the other end of town where no one would know me, but I pulled on my big girl shorts and headed to my local Shoppers.

I honestly didn’t know what to get for Zeda.  “Do I buy the $4.99 one or the $24.99?  Okay, let’s eliminate the ones with applicators.  We don’t want gels.  Hmmm…lemon coconut…maybe scented would be nice.  Nope, let’s get that one; it looks like Johnson’s baby shampoo.”  So I picked up a bottle of Vagisil and bee-lined for the cashier, paid for the shampoo, walked out of the store – without even asking for a bag!  – and prayed that I wouldn’t walk into somebody I know.

When I got home, Dave was ready.  He rinsed Zeda’s coat and I washed her again: over her head, covering her mouth, around her eyes and in the nostrils.  Suddenly, a purchase with an applicator made a lot of sense.   We let everything soak in her, rinsed her off and, as we did, we could smell the stench being pulled from her.  We repeated the process and, during Zeda’s second scrubbing, I asked, “Who thought of this anyway?”

“The guy I ran into while walking her.”

“No, who originally thought of this?  Why would someone use a douche shampoo on a dog? Whatever would possess them to think of that?”

And that remains a mystery.  At first, I thought that a genius idea like that had to be a woman’s.   Then, I thought it came from a  guy who panicked when his dog was sprayed, ran into the bathroom to get some soap and grabbed the wrong bottle.  I’m surprised that something so effective did not end up on the list of “accidental inventions” or a DIY life hack video.

As we cleaned up, I said to Dave, “I’ll leave the Vagisil here with her other shampoos.  It will be a conversation piece.”   I carefully placed the bottle on the toolbox next to his workbench and retreated to the safety of my kitchen.  Then, I added Vagisil to my list for my next trip to the drug store.