76: White Stripe

76: White Stripe

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

White Stripe

Sometimes when you get in a fight with a skunk, you can’t tell who started it.

~Lloyd Doggett

Just when I thought things were under control, our five-year-old Portuguese Water Dog proved me wrong. So long as he gets his two walks and two and a half meals a day, Oreo generally doesn’t cause us too much trouble. Sure, there’s the occasional roll in dead animal matter necessitating one or more baths. And there’s also the ongoing expense of regular vet bills. But, Oreo doesn’t get into too much trouble. Until, that is, a recent encounter with a nocturnal varmint.

Oreo is not a cat lover. We never introduced him to cats when he was a puppy and he retains his instinctive distaste for felines. Given the chance, he’d like to catch one and tear it to shreds. Little does he know that he’d likely be the loser in any such encounter.

Oreo has also never been accused of being overly bright. He’s not stupid, but he’s definitely not the wisest whippet on the block. Which might help to explain Oreo’s latest misadventure.

One recent night he stood at our back door wanting to get out. Since this is a frequent request, I thought nothing of it, although I did notice that he seemed more eager than usual to get to the back yard. Given that I, too, as a sixty-year-old often have urgent bathroom visits, I figured Oreo’s eagerness was just a function of his age. It turns out, however, that peeing was the last thing on his mind. When I opened the back door, Oreo took off like a shot, barking as if he were on a mission.

Opening that door was our first mistake.

Since it was dark out, I couldn’t see what he was up to. I figured maybe he had spotted a squirrel and was futilely giving chase as he has done a hundred times before. But it turned out that Oreo had spotted something bigger than a squirrel. Something, that in his limited vision, probably looked like a cat. Except this cat had a white stripe down its back.

Before I could get back to the living room and the book I was quietly reading, I heard my wife Cheryl proclaim from the upstairs bedroom: “What is that horrible smell?”

Oreo’s attack on what he thought was a cat turned out to be a kamikaze mission doomed to failure. This was no cat; this was a skunk. And as skunks will do, this one reared and fired. Oreo came staggering back to the door and Cheryl let him in.

That was our second mistake.

The poor dog looked like he’d been sucker punched and, to make matters worse, was foaming at the mouth. He wandered about the main floor of the house dripping skunk oil and finally plunked himself down on the living room carpet where he deposited even more of the foam.

Cheryl feared the worst and called the emergency animal hospital and, notwithstanding their warning that there was a minimum charge of $145, said she’d bring him right over. She then loaded him in the back of our car.

That was our third mistake.

Luckily for us, the technician at the animal hospital immediately recognized — by smell no doubt — that Oreo had been the victim of a wanton skunk attack. Thus, the $145 fee was waived and Cheryl was sent home with a hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing detergent recipe to apply to our dog’s body as many times as needed.

The recipe worked, at least for Oreo. As for the carpet, the sofa, and our clothes, I’m not so sure. For days after, that distinctive skunk odor lingered throughout the house as a not-so-subtle reminder of our series of mistakes.

Weeks have passed and it seems like the worst is over. Oreo smells like a rose and we only get the occasional whiff of our absent Pepé Le Pew.

However, our third mistake lives on to haunt us. Cheryl’s car has yet to fully recover from Oreo’s skunk-scented ride to the animal hospital. We’ve tried fabric deodorizer, skunk smell remover, soap and water, and even incense. But try as we might, the odor lingers.

So if you see a dark blue, late model Toyota Matrix with all the windows down, you might want to give it a wide berth. Remember — you’ve been warned.

~David Martin

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