BACKYARD SHENANIGANS: Skunk Stinks Out a Win in Round 2!

summer-2007-2008-010_2.jpg ……VS……skunk-in-grass.jpg


There is nothing more humiliating for a dog than to be stopped in his tracks by the pungent perfume of  a skunk. When a dog runs toward a skunk, the logical assumption is that the dog’s superior physical abilities will force the pest to run for it’s life. Instead, the skunk stops dead in its tracks and lets ‘er rip. The skunk spray might be the best animal defense in the urban jungle – a lesson Reilly was about to learn for the second time in his young life.

Game 2: Skunk 2, Reilly 0

A year almost to the day after Reilly was sprayed by a skunk for the first time, he had an unfortunate second encounter with this distinguished member of the weasel family in the same backyard where the original “attack” took place. The pattern was much the same as the first spraying: garbage night, a skunk trolling for refuse, our backyard used as a transit route from the garbage on one street to the garbage on the next street.

I had just returned from running an errand and entered the house. Reilly greeted me with his usual enthusiasm and, as I was hanging my jacket in the closet, he was at the back door whining to get out. This isn’t uncommon – he’ll often let out a little wimper to let us know he wants to go out.

I guess I let my guard down. After all, what are the chances of my dog getting sprayed again? Not a chance it was going to happen again. My dog was too smart to walk into the skunk’s trap a second time.

Clearly, I hadn’t thought this one through because out he went. Within about ten seconds he found the skunk and just like that he was at the back door blinking wildly.

Lessons Learned

Reilly and I were pretty soundly defeated by the skunk in Round 1. It was our hope to take the lessons learned in that humiliating pounding and turn them into a more productive outcome if such circumstances were to present themselves again. Unlucky for us, those circumstances presented themselves, but this time we were ready.

For my part, when I saw my blinking dog at the back door hoping to come into the house, I made sure I didn’t let him in. That’s right – I left in the wild with the skunk that just attacked him. Of course, I’m not really sure where the skunk went. He probably just left our backyard in disgust. All that I do know is that I had to get some stuff together so that I could deodorize my dog.

For his part, Reilly learned not to attack the skunk full on. While he made a run at him, he didn’t bark like a mad dog and stayed a distance away from the skunks rear. I know this because he didn’t reek nearly as badly as he did after the first attack. I guess a gently mist rained down on my poor puppy instead of the power-washing he got last time.

Once the deed was done – and the skunk had moved our yard and onto the street to go after everyone’s garbage – I went to the basement and grabbed the skunk shampoo. I went into the backyard, turned on the hose, and started scrubbing. It was disgusting for me, and cold for Reilly, but the shampoo did help. I left him outside to dry off a bit before letting him into the house. In the meantime, we rushed upstairs and made sure all the windows were closed (no residual skunk spray was going to waft in our windows this time) and that the doors to our bedrooms were shut (to keep smelly Reilly out).

When we let Reilly in, he stunk but not as badly as the first time. The episode was exhausting but not nearly as over-the-top as the first encounter.

It was a moral victory for Reilly and I. Certainly the skunk had won another round, establishing his supremacy in our backyard, but Reilly had learned how to dodge the stinky skunk mist and I had learned to clean him outside in an effort to avoid turning our home into The House of Pungent Stinkery.

Now when Reilly wimpers at the back door I do two things: I click on the light and I look for skunks. There is no way I want to lose a third round to our stinky foe.

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