Dogs don’t have the best of boundaries when it comes to skunks. You think they’d learn after the first spraying to stay away from the lumbering black animal with the white stripe.
A few nights ago, Clementine was going bananas over something she’d apparently pinned alongside the garage. Hydrangea bushes kept the unknown hidden from my sight, but my doggy sure knew something was there. She barked and lunged in full attack mode. She’s never been so savage, and I hesitated to get between this flurry of fierceness and whatever. What if it was a rabid porcupine? A lost coyote? Stamping my feet and screaming did little to dissuade Clementine’s dramatics. Maybe she thought I was joining her in the fight, or now she had to protect her hapless human.
Then I caught a whiff of skunk.
Did you know that the same chemical compound in a skunk’s putrid spray is also in rotting flesh and feces? They are called thiols. That’s what makes humans gag.
What I smelled wasn’t a full on, hold-your-nose, gagging surge, though. It was more like a light spritzing. Maybe it was a baby skunk. A kit. We see a lot of kits around Rochester. Our adventures with them have made national news, like the time the police saved a kit from death by yogurt container.
Eventually I got Clementine to back off and the toxic bundle of joy scurried away. Close call. Skunks can spray their liquid deterrent up to 15 feet. Kits under 3 months old, give or take, don’t yet have their totally realized spraying skills.
When I shared this recent incident, someone told me to bathe my dog in tomato juice. I’ve heard this doesn’t work. Tomato juice overwhelms your olfactory nerves, so you may think the stink is gone, but it’s not.
A neighbor suggested Massengill douche. I can vouch that douche on a pooch doesn’t cut it. Years ago our chocolate Lab tangled with a skunk on a warm night in late December, and got sprayed smack in the snout. I ran out to a 24-hour drugstore and snatched up several bottles of douche (in different scents. Why not?) and douched my dog in the front yard under the glow of multicolored Christmas lights. It didn’t work. She still stank like skunk.
Say that six times fast.
It’s all chemistry
So I hopped online and found this formula:
Mix together the following:
1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap
Soak the dog with water and then work the solution into a thick lather on the dog. Don’t get it in their eyes. Leave lather on for 5 minutes and then rinse well.
I followed up with a shampoo. It worked. My Lab was welcomed back into the house that night.
The Mythbusters confirmed this formula, so I guess that makes it official. They explain that oxygen molecules in the soapy solution neutralize the skunk scent when they bond to the thiols. “By altering the chemical makeup, this stink-fighting antidote vanquishes the offending fumes.”
I used the same mixture on Clementine the other night to get rid of a faint foul odor. One word of caution: Don’t mix this formula in advance, thinking you can keep it handy when and if your dog gets skunked. It will explode. For that reason, don’t use a spray bottle, either. Mix the ingredients in an open container and use immediately. You and your dog will again be BFF.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, about one women’s need to tell her story without shame. Adult contemporary fiction
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers Favorite Book Finalist
2016 USA Book News “Best Book” Finalist
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
“With tenderness, but without blinking, Linda K. Sienkiewicz turns her eye on the predator-prey savannah of the young and still somehow hopeful.” ~ Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the #1 NY Times Bestseller, Deep End of the Ocean