Friday, November 5, 2010


Harper and I have our routines. We go for walks. We throw toys and retrieve them up and down the hall in the house. We practice our training and enjoy our hot dog and freeze-dried liver treat rewards. We watch the squirrels outside from our bed on the cedar chest and routinely have a heart attack when one strays into the yard. In general we have a good time together.

One of our routines is going outside one more time to go potty before bed. Since it has gotten dark I take a flashlight with me. I always go outside with her after dark. There are too many scary animals in our neighborhood. I figure a talkative human and a light are enough to keep them at bay, and so far that has been the case. Harper has learned quickly that after she does her business, if she runs right back inside its time for a treat before bed.

Two nights ago we got ready to go outside one last time. I put on her electronic collar, grabbed the flashlight, and out we went. But instead of running over to our usual potty place, she headed behind the gazebo and started barking frantically. Uh-oh! Before I could say “Harper! No!” she was over the wall and chasing SOMETHING into the woods!

Harper has run through the electronic fence once before, but the previous time was during the day and I could see what it was (a cat). This time it was dark and I had no idea what she was chasing. I clambered over the rock wall, since you can’t call a dog and ask them to come and get shocked in the process. I started screaming for Lee, but he was inside watching TV and couldn’t hear me.

I started chasing Harper and yelling for her to come, but I didn’t have to go far. Suddenly she was practically leaping into my arms and with her came an unbelievable stench. Intellectually I knew it had to have been a skunk, but in reality it smelled like nothing I had ever experienced before. It smelled more like garlic to me than skunk. Actually it smelled like what I might imagine very old and rotten garlic might smell like, if I was the size of an ant, and embedded inside a garlic clove.  I’d NEVER been this close to active skunk spray before. This wasn’t like the unpleasant smell you notice from a car window or out in the woods. This was really intense. My olfactory senses basically shut down and in short order I couldn’t smell a thing.

Harper was drooling and foaming at the mouth, all over my coat. If I thought things smelled bad, God knows what she thought, with her superior sense of smell. Poor thing! I removed her collar and ran back to the house, still yelling for Lee.

I burst into the house screaming. “Harper got sprayed by a skunk!” Quick-thinking Lee grabbed her and threw her in the guest shower and closed the glass shower door. He started stripping off his clothes so that he could get in the shower with her and start cleaning her off.

We knew doggie shampoo wasn’t going to be enough to get rid of the smell. Should we try tomato juice? All we had was V8; would that work? Lee said “Google de-skunking your dog!” and so I did.

I quickly found out the tomato juice is an old wives tale that only covers up the smell, and besides, makes a white dog turn pink. The remedy I found was 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and a couple of teaspoons dish detergent. I quickly mixed up this concoction and handed it to Lee, who proceeded to rub it into Harper’s fur. It worked! With some diligent scrubbing the skunk smell was quickly removed from our dog.

I then removed most of My clothes (fortunately my coat was washable) and threw it in the washing machine with the remainder of the solution. That removed the smell from my coat and pants as well.

I know I should think this is funny, and perhaps eventually I will. Picture two semi naked people and a sodden miserable dog, frantically trying to wash out skunk smell…

The only thing that we couldn’t get the smell out of was the electronic receiver collar. It must have received a direct hit. We tried the hydrogen peroxide solution, poison ivy soap (Tecnu, always important to have on hand) and a cleaner called Nature’s Remedy that we use to get dog accidents out of the rug. Nothing doing. Every time I “tested” the receiver by bringing it up to my nose, the whole experience came back, vividly. Unfortunately we had to buy a new receiver.

Today there is still a rather strong skunk smell in the garage and basement. We think the skunk must have been wandering around near the garage before Harper found it and the smell got drawn into the basement somehow.  At least until there is snow on the ground in the evening Harper is going out on a leash. I don’t want to chance an experience like that again. My nose is still recovering!


  1. Poor baby. That is the cutest photo. It's like "Momma...I didn't mean it". We used to have a skunk that lived somewhere close by and it was HUGE!!! One night, Roscoe spotted it before we had our fence and started to run towards it. I shouted "Roscoe!! STOP!!!" He looked at me, back at the HUGE skunk and made a beeline for the back door! WHEW!! I was shaking and we both ran for cover. Phil nearly died laughing at us, but I can tell you that Roscoe got BIG treaters for not chasing that thing.

  2. Wow Jean! Good for Roscoe! So far if Harper decides to chase something she's gone. Fortunately she doesn't jump the fence for squirrels or chipmunks or we'd be in big trouble.



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