Monday, July 11, 2011

Skunks Redux

Man, a while ago I complained about never seeing a living skunk and I think in the cosmic view of things that was the wrong move. Karma and whatnot, 3 months go by and Saturday night I'm driving home from dinner out on the Eastern Shore and notice a flash of white and black scuttling through the grass in my peripheral view. Could have been a kitty right? I didn't think about it again as I let the 3 dogs out and settled onto the couch for a viewing of True Grit.

Eddy lets the dogs back in 5 minutes later and Brownie, the adopted Australian Shepherd we found cowering under the boxwoods in the summer of 2005, rolls in smelling like jet fuel. Only at a distance was the smell remotely skunkish in the familiar way of whizzing by roadkill on the freeway. Up close, it takes on a different character and the only adjectives that came to mind were powerful - nuclear, chemical, burning in the nostrils. It is truly overwhelming in the intimate encounter -- enough to reset the inner narrative and induce short-term amnesia.

Brownie was acting frantic too. Imagine an animal whose primary means of navigation in the world is the sense of small and the scale of the sensation for her must be something else. The only human parallel I could imagine would be the daze brought on by a flash bang grenade. Brownie was out of it, eyes rolling in her head and desperate whining for relief.

Smart phone technology brought up the usual list of treatments, including tomato juice bath, vinegar, dish detergent, and hydrogen peroxide. Having no tomato juice, we whipped up a bath of the former and shooed the dog outside where a garden hose was also brought to bear.

Not wanting to ruin my clothes I stripped down to my undies and we held and washed the dog outside with several good scrubbings with the mixture, interspersed with rinsing blasts from the hose. It worked quite well except for what skunk scent Brownie had already brought into the house lingered through the night.

Though maybe it was more us acclimating to the odor, as those from paper mill or refinery towns. This morning, Monday, Jill called me from the office to report that the first young patient in whose mouth she put her hands this morning initially recoiled with a gasp, choking out the question what's that smell? And that after about a dozen good latherings with various skunk-scent solvents.


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