Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures in Urban Wildlife...

(Image borrowed from the interwebs - google image search)

Artemis managed to go nine and a half years without getting sprayed by a skunk.

Perhaps that lulled me into a false sense of security. Perhaps the fact that Artemis has demonstrated herself sensible enough to stop cold at the sound of a rattlesnake's warning made me think she couldn't be stupid enough to confront a skunk...

Regardless, on Wednesday night (ok, technically Thursday morning) at 1am I took Artemis out for a final chance to urinate on some foliage before retiring for a calm eight hours of respite. As is our custom, the dog ambled free of restraints because (I thought THEN) what trouble could possibly arise at 1am on weeknight?

With a single bark of warning, Artemis took off with the fleetness of a startled woodnymph and the determination of a riled hound. I barely had time to register that she had left my side before she stood face to face with a thoroughly agitated, but firmly ground-holding, skunk.

I shouted. I plead. I begged. I cursed.

Neither skunk nor dog were to be swayed.

I called and called, but Artemis was strangely entranced, as though that black and white puffed up tail held the answers to every enigma that had caused her paws and snout to twitch delicately in her dream riddled sleep.

I wasn't going anywhere near the damn thing.

Artemis surged forward, and the skunk, not one to give in quietly to the jaws of a much larger predator, sprayed. And sprayed. And sprayed again. One more time, just for good measure. Or so it seemed in my head. (In truth skunks tend to only spray once per encounter as they have a limited amount of butt juice to share with the world, so it's likely everything else I saw was just posturing.)

Artemis was stunned. I like to believe that's why she didn't beat a hasty retreat at the first whiff of tail spritz. I think her whole system was overloaded by the pungent miasma that hit her directly in the nose.

When she finally regained control of herself she shook her head violently, even while retreating from the myriad flicks of her striped nemesis' tail, and snorted. It was a motion she repeated frequently, the snorts almost mimicking the human gesture of a subtle mixture of disbelief and disdain.

No matter how often she tried to discharge her nose, the smell remained. In fact it grew worse.

I stood, numbly, struck still by the mounting knowledge that my canine companion was now the source of a scent that can only be compared to a hundred tires smoldering in a pile of asphalt on a summer's night, and that I am the responsible adult.


Never in my life have I so desperately wanted to be a child. To not be the person responsible. To blithely suggest that someone else should have to figure out what to do with a skunk coated canine at 1am on a weeknight.


I might have cursed again. It's a distinct possibility.

Not knowing what else to do, I tied Artemis to the bannister outside our door and proceeded upstairs to make use of the glorious pool of information prized by night owls everywhere, the internet.

Luckily, recipes for effective skunk remover abound. Thank you, sweet baby spaghetti monster, may your noodly appendages touch all the peoples, amen.

And so it was, by 1:30am I was to be found, wearing as little as possible, bathing my poor, malodorous canine with a combination of vinegar (this should have been hydrogen peroxide, but I didn't have any and was making do), baking soda, and dish soap on the back patio, with a hose, bucket, and the brush from a dust pan.

I did the best I could with the tools given, but it's possible that the bites of myriad mosquitoes, and the frustration of bathing a dog in the dark, all while trying to touch her as little as possible, might have lowered my standards of performance.

Once the scent of the dog had been downgraded from "Dear GOD what is that THING?!?" to merely, "Hey guys, who farted?" I took her inside and banished her to the bathroom. It was 2:30 in the morning and I was long past ready to collapse.

Sadly, that was not the end of it.

Artemis was so distraught by being banished to the bathroom (a room that she often voluntarily chooses to sleep in, thanks to the cool floor) that she whined constantly throughout the night. The husband, who had to be up before 6am for work, relocated to the living room. I stayed in hopes of calming the poor pooch into some form of slumber. It did not help.

My theory, looking back on it, is that she was trapped with the smell of herself, and she couldn't fathom why I had locked her into a room that smelled like multiple cartons of rotten eggs. As she'd been sprayed in the face, and is a DOG, the scent had to be hundreds of times worse for her than it was for any of the rest of us, but the alternative was to tie her up outside, and I know for a fact she would have howled her head off and kept the entire neighborhood awake the whole night if I'd done that to her.

So, instead, we passed a sleepless night. When I finally decided to give up and start my day, the first thing I did was force Artemis into yet another bath. Then, while she dried, I looked up local groomers. Luckily, there was a place within walking distance, and, thanks to a cancelation, they had a slot for us.

So it was that Artemis had her first ever appointment at a groomer. It wasn't cheap, but for how much improved she was (and not just the skunk smell going away) it's a price I'd be willing to pay once or twice a year.

Artemis is now the cleanest she has ever been in her life. And, while her face still smells a tiny bit like skunk, the rest of her smells fantastic.

And thus we live, learn, and fight another day.


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  2. I have no desire to laugh at your suffering but that is a hilarious story. Poor things!

    1. On the contrary, I wrote it down that others might laugh at it. Chortle and snicker away! :-)

  3. A wild, whacky Winnipeg story, thankfully, with a happy ending-at least for dear Artemis. (Who appears totally stunned and bewildered).

  4. Very funny. Your story reminded me a lot of having an infant. Except it's every night. On the other hand, they smell good; even their poop doesn't stink!

    1. Hahaha! Dogs are a million times easier. Hands down. I'll take skunk smell any day. ;-)