About a week ago I let my dog, Yogi, out to “do his business” before retiring for the evening. When I opened the door for his return, he quickly skulked past me and cowered in the corner. In a matter of moments it became apparent that my best friend of the canine species was sporting a new smell. And it wasn’t Old Spice. He had been sprayed by a skunk. For the next two hours I engaged in the unpleasant task of cleaning the dog.
Once Yogi started to smell close to his normal stinky self, I turned my thoughts to the skunk that apparently had been in close proximity to my back door. I was reminded of an experience a friend of mine had dealing with a skunk in his yard a few years ago.
This buddy had seen a skunk near his porch on several occasions, and was determined to get rid of the unwelcome animal. After a brief review of his options, exportation won out over extermination, and he resolved to relocate the odoriferous intruder. He obtained a Have-A-Heart trap, set it, and waited.
Sure enough, the next morning my friend was the proud owner of one animal of the “Pepe Le Pew” variety. Up to this point, things were going as planned, but then his Chesapeake Bay retriever — an animal with the body weight of a small pick-up truck and a brain the size of a sunflower seed — decided to harass the caged creature. Apparently the foolish canine stuck his dorm-room-refrigerator-sized head against the bars and began jumping up and down barking like he’d just won a subscription to Dog Fancy magazine.
I wasn’t there to witness the incident, so I did a little online research to help me picture what happened next. According to Wikipedia, a skunk “exhibits characteristic warning behavior such as foot stomping and standing on its front feet before turning its hindquarters towards a target and letting loose with odoriferous spray.”
So I assume the captured North American Mephitis (aka skunk) said to himself, “What the heck?” Stomp. Stomp. Handstand. Spray. Spray. After several seconds the dog realized he wasn’t at a Macy’s perfume counter, and the spray wasn’t Chanel #5, and he went to register a complaint with his master.
Two things are certain to happen when your dog is introduced to the business end of a skunk: people will offer all kinds of bizarre advice for removing the smell from your pet; and these same people will avoid you like you have leprosy until the second-hand skunk stench on your body dissipates several weeks later.
While my buddy was at the store purchasing a certain feminine product as instructed by an acquaintance to kill the odor, he ran into a crusty old gentleman. When this native Vermonter heard the story about the dog getting sprayed he informed my friend that, to save face in the neighborhood, he would now have to exterminate the animal.
Returning home with a sense of duty, my buddy retrieved a gun purchased years earlier for protecting his family when he lived in a rough neighborhood, and approached the cage. Having never fired a gun before, he aimed towards the cage and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, the bullets were either bouncing off the animal or his aim was extremely poor. After emptying a couple belts of ammo, the skunk not only remained very much alive, he seemed genuinely put out by the barrage of lead in the air and started to stomp his feet and do some floor exercises. My friend made a quick exit to think of an alternate plan for exterminating the pest. Studying his old Clue game for inspiration proved fruitless. He couldn’t imagine doing it with a candlestick in the study, or a rope in the kitchen.
Finally, he came up with plan “B,” or Operation Dunk Skunk as it has subsequently been referred to by the local folk at bars and picnics. The idea was to simply drown the poor critter in a garbage can full of water. The hitch in the plan was how to encourage the skunk to go into the water without a life jacket and still not have it suspect there was a devious plan afoot. My college-educated pal cleverly avoided this issue by lifting the cage and dropping the whole thing into the garbage can. The skunk, no doubt having seen the Poseidon Adventure on the Movie Channel more than once, headed up towards air, pried open the cage, and much to the chagrin of my fast running friend, climbed out of the can. The skunk was last seen waddling into the distance, about to become a legend in the skunk world.
And I suspect, today, he is making the rounds in my neighborhood.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.
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