Jun 152009

Lea poked her head in the study last night about 11.

“You smell a skunk?”

“Uh…no…wait a minute…yeah, now that you mention it.  Must be close, huh?”

“Really close.  Our yard.  It’s a lot stronger in our bedroom.”

And so it was.

I went to the garage to grab my cheapie Home Depot eight-hundred-million-gazillion-candlepower spotlight, and stepped out onto the deck to investigate.

Yeah.  So.

Dear reader, I tried three different times today to put the smell into words, and utterly failed.  I’ll do so a fourth time here, I’m sure, but I’ll give it a shot.  That smell was one with my soul.  I tasted it—all the way down to my small intestine.  My eyes began actively weeping (far beyond “watering”).  I swore I could see it.  I have smelled skunk spray dozens of times, and I’m telling you last night was some seriously next-level shit.

Mouth-breathing as best I could, I stepped a little further into the night, and saw Brenna intently working on something just about halfway between the deck steps and the gate.  I gingerly raised my light and saw that her occupation was about a fourth of a skunk.

My dog is eating a skunk.

Now I know Brenna didn’t kill the skunk.  She was once a formidable Lab/chow/shepherd mix, but now she’s 14 years old, arthritic, and totally blind.  So Bailey was the likely executioner, and one whiff of my eager little springer spaniel mix confirmed it.

skunkI started parsing the likely events during a meeting this morning, and there’s a lot of weirdness.  Bailey smelled bad even this morning, but it wasn’t overpowering.  And why isn’t he hurt?  And why didn’t we hear the fight?  And how could they eat so much of the skunk before we detected the stench?

I’m guessing the dogs were doing their usual chilling when the skunk wandered into the pen.  When Bailey saw it and attacked, he must have surprised it, at least substantially and maybe completely.  His first shot was a good one, perhaps breaking the skunk’s neck, because judging from Bailey’s lack of injury and the fact that we didn’t hear anything, the skunk didn’t survive to fight long.

Moreover, I don’t think Bailey received a controlled shot.  He stinks, but it’s just not bad enough.  Apparently, when skunks sense imminent danger but don’t know its exact nature, they can “cloud” their foulness instead of directing it at a known predator’s face, and I’m thinking that’s what happened.  (You wouldn’t believe how much I’ve read about skunks in the past 24 hours.)

I called the veterinarian’s office this morning to ask if we needed to do anything, and they said no, both dogs’ rabies vaccinations are current and complications were highly unlikely.

This morning when I went to feed the dogs, the stench had lifted far more than I had dared hope, given the humidity.  Lea worked on Bailey today with a hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dishwashing liquid solution, and improved him markedly.  And the house has receded to “extremely subtle” on the stink-o-meter.  I’m now confident that no extraordinary measures are indicated.  I’ll change the intake filters tomorrow, and that’ll be the end of it.  (Mostly; it may take a few weeks for outside to completely right itself.)  We were lucky.

As for the remaining 25% of Pepé, he’s tied up in two heavy garbage bags in the outside can.  I’ll move him somewhere farther away tomorrow.

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 Posted by at 11:13 pm

  7 Responses to “The continuing adventures of Bailey and the local fauna”

  1. We had a close encounter tonight too while walking back from our neighbors’ house at dusk. I was carrying Maddy, and Sam and the dog were up ahead. We had been talking about something (I think another neighbor’s garden and Maddy’s matter-of-fact remark about it earlier in the day) and following the fence downhill to our house.

    Motion on the ground caught my attention. I saw a bushy tail, so my first guess was squirrel. I looked more closely and saw that the critter was big and dark with its tail pointed straight up, and our “ferocious” Maltese was taking potshots. ‘Not g-,’ but before the thought could complete, I announced, “Skunk! Skunk!”

    Sam shrieked and ran back. Good thing Max was on his leash, or he’d likely have been demoted to outside dog for good. Good thing Cal was at his grandmother’s, or he may have caught the same fate.

    I think we got “clouded,” but no apparent direct hits. The skunk ran off in an escape route that was available the whole time (we probably surprised it), and we tried to rush inside before the funk set in. The garage already started to stink before the door shut again. I’m not looking forward to smelling it in the morning.

  2. Bo and I were commenting last week on how we didn’t see as many skunks this year as we did last year. There was a population explosion last year among the skunks in our area. A skunk family had even (briefly) taken up residence in the crawl space of a house a couple doors down. That family rented a travel trailer and camped in their driveway for a week or so while the skunks were evicted. Now I know why. Every time I stepped out on the deck I wanted to barf and that was after it had time to dissapate some. I can’t imagine it being that strong through the whole house.

    I’m getting seriously pissed at the owners of the overgrown lot where I suspsect most of our visitors are coming from. There is still lots of wooded areas, cow pastures, and farm land around here for wildlife to live. I’m ready for that particular lot to NOT be a natural habitat.

  3. HA, this is great! the only encounters I have had have been a turkey head and a deer leg. Dotn really want to know where the rest are!

  4. Having grown up in rural KY and having engaged in the more country-boy activites, I’ve encountered lots of skunks. I know they are not to be trifled with.

    These things must occur in “threes”. I had a skunk encounter of sorts last week. As Greg and Bo know, I tend to work after hours a lot. Last week, I was working around 7:00 p.m. and went out for a smoke. Walked back to the door, swiped my badge, pulled on the door, and I was locked out. Some sort of card reader malfuntion. My keys, phone, everything necessary to leave or contact help is locked inside the building. [Long story on how I finally found someone to let me use a cell phone omitted.]

    Waiting on Carla to show up with a spare key, a skunk walked out into the front yard of the building. It was about 50 yards from me but and totally engrossed in rooting for bugs in the lawn but I knew I did not want to surprise it. I waited to see if it’d head off but it kept, quite obliviously, inching toward me. When it got to about 30 yards away I started trying to alert it to my presence. I shouted, clapped, etc. No joy. I ended up having to walk out around it and go sit in the parking lot for a while.

    Not as exciting as your stories, I just found it interesting that was three skunk encounters so close together.


  5. Heh, CSI got nothing on you Bo. Not complete until you start putting up strings to trace the spray vectors of the deceased.

  6. Greg: Some kind of adrenaline, eh? Some kind of smell, eh?

    Lea: We spent a lot of time poking around those three lots when Oliver was lost. Seemed a slam-dunk.

    Lori: The previous “best adventure” here was when Brenna was off her food for two days, perhaps ten years ago. Our neighbor reported that he had seen her stalk, kill, and eat a rabbit.

    Carey: They can’t see worth a shit–beyond about three feet, light and dark is pretty much the best they can do. Congratulations on not getting nailed.

    BamaDan: Thank you very much. Just need to find the cash angle here. 🙂

  7. […] you sure?  Maybe it’s a piece of that other one the dogs had squirreled away.  Can you get close enough to it to tell me what you […]

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