Sunday, April 29, 2007


We were passing by the falls on the last leg of our evening dog walk around the ranch when Annie commented on a bad odor and shot me an accusing look.

"Not me this time," I said. "It kind of smells like skunk, actually."

Neither of us thought much about the odor; when you're surrounded by donkeys, horses, dogs, and a husband all day, you learn to let these things pass (ahem). And it was a beautiful spring day, with clear skies, moderate temperatures, and just enough of a breeze to keep you cool. We'd let the sheep out to graze in the front yard and slipped out the back with the dog pack for a quick tour around the property. Wildlife encounters were the last thing on our minds.

But then, just ahead of us, Annie saw a fluffy tail waving. "I guess Lacy went down into that hole," she said.

I squinted against the setting sun, and finally saw the tail. "She's really down in there," I said. I looked around, and strangely, there was Lacy about twenty yards in the other direction. "Uh, hun, I don't think that's Lacy in the hole ..."

He should stick with horses, they're not as stinky.
"SKUNK!" she yelled, and immediately we turned and raced in the opposite direction, calling for the dogs. Three of them were right by us and merrily chased along, but Radar the border collie and Mia the long-haired Wookie were on the opposite side of the skunk.

Annie was calling the two of them frantically, while I hung back just a bit to see if I could spot them. I thought they were safe on the other side of the creek and would cut through to join us by the falls, but then I saw them running close to where the skunk waited. "Radar, come! Come on, boy, quick, COME!"

But it was no use. Just as he passed that elegant looking tail he stopped and turned to see what it was. I could see the skunk spin around, Radar poke his nose in, and then in a flash he was recoiling away. "He's hit!" I called, feeling like an extra in a WWII movie. Radar was rolling on the ground, rubbing his face in the dirt and sneezing.

Mia, oblivious as always to anything not involving a Snausage, raced on past, looking at Radar inquisitively as if to say, "What's your problem, sheep-boy?"

Sure enough, as Radar ran over to us, dropping every few feet to roll and rub his face, the wave of stench hit us. There are few things as stinky as a skunk-spattered, wet dog, especially ones like Radar who hates baths with a passion.

We let him swim in the creek a bit as the other dogs ran up and smelled him, only to then roll frantically in the grass themselves. His sister Echo kept trying to snap at him; maybe she thought he was the skunk. The smell, the black and white coloring, I can see how she'd be confused.

Once we got home we looked up skunk desmellification on the internet and managed to tackle Radar long enough to wash him down with it. I think it helped a little, but there's still an almost-visible cloud of funk surrounding him.

To make things worse, tomorrow is his first day with Annie at Obedience School. He's going to make quite an impression, I'm sure, but the one I feel really bad for is Annie. She's the one who has to ride with a stinky, smelly, skunky dog in her truck for an hour each way.

Suddenly staying home without a job doesn't seem so bad after all.

No comments: