As Kanye West mentions in a few of his throwback jams, "I guess you never know what you got 'til it's gone". A few weeks ago, that was my dramatic, yet exact thought as the sweet, fresh air in our home was enveloped by invisible, but very real clouds of skunk spray. (You may have caught a glimpse of the aftermath here.) I had many thoughts as we calmly (wink face) worked through the incident, but what surprised me and my senses the most was the intensity of the skunk spray -- both how quickly it traveled and the power of the scent. By the way, catching a skunk spray in passing, like on a road trip, and experiencing the full life cycle of a spray are two completely different "joys", and the former doesn't even come close. But as awful as the following 36 hours were, we survived to tell the smelly story. Here's how we reacted to being sprayed by Pepé Le Pew's cousin and what we would have done differently.
The Big Spray happened late at night, around 10:30 pm (which we now know is also prime time for certain black-and-white, nocturnal animals -- #notgilly). Mike was chaperoning the boys, in the backyard, for the last potty call of the night. Our backyard light was on and Mike was even playing around with an adjustable focus flashlight that he's mildly obsessed with :) But neither the light show, nor the sounds from Pierogi and Gilly rustling through our backyard prevented what happened next: The Big Spray. Suddenly, the skunk pulled out the only party trick that skunks know, which is that cute little spray thing that ends up stunning the entire party, and chaos ensued!
While the action picked up outside, I cluelessly lounged around inside. Until suddenly, Mike bursted inside and frantically demanded treats to quickly lure the boys inside. I panicked. What were we dealing with? A coyote? A swarm of vicious lightning bugs? A dray of squirrels? So, I reached for a universally respected treat: cheese, and ran outside.
When we finally herded Pierogi and Gilly inside, we falsely determined that Pierogi was the smelliest and rushed him to our shower, downstairs. And while Mike did his best to console an understandably worried pup, I scoured the internet for de-skunking advice. The top results all recommended the same concoction and so we enthusiastically staked all of our faith in the top results and snapped on our mad scientist gloves. We ended up administering the following crazy bath: a rinse with dog shampoo, a round of the concoction, another round of the concoction and finally, another rinse with dog shampoo.
Meanwhile, poor Gilly paced our main level and tossed his dog cookies (a common side effect). Having never dealt with a skunk spray situation, Mike and I did our best to problem solve together, but suffered with tunnel vision for each new sight immediately in front of us. We came back to Gilly confident that he might only need half of Pierogi's four-step bath, but when we inhaled his fur, he seemed to be in worse shape than Pierogi. So, we immediately swooped him up and gave him the same crazy bath. (Halfway through Gilly's bath, he put the biggest smiles on our faces when amid the chaos, he grinned and pointed his chin to the sky as we scrubbed his head -- just like he always does.)
The rest of the night was rough. We were all exhausted, irritated from the smell and a little shaken up. But we burned candles, emptied air fresheners, cuddled with towels over our noses and joked about the ridiculousness of what had just happened. The next morning, we woke up early to begin airing out our home and slowly but surely the smell left. The boys smelled acceptable, but still skunky and so, later in the day we gave them each another rinse-bath.
Here's what we would have done differently:
- Instead of displaying intermittent moments of panic, we would aim for calmness -- especially since dogs can sense and are encouraged by human emotion.
- Skunk spray is actually an oil and spreads like wildfire. Instead of bringing Pierogi and Gilly inside, and thus the smell, we would have temporarily corralled them in their crates in an unaffected area outside, as well as set up an outdoor bath station.
- Although giving baths to Pierogi and Gilly has always required a team effort from Mike and I, we would set Gilly closer to us, so that we could better monitor and comfort him.
A few other things that stuck with us:
- Before giving your dog the first bath (of likely many), look for all size injuries. The scare or escape from the initial spray could cause even small scratches or cuts. And don't hesitate to follow-up with a vet or emergency vet if necessary. We had Gilly looked over.
- Back to our mention that skunk spray is an oil, the smell will get worse before it gets better! Also, wear disposable gloves to avoid spreading the stench.
- Some groomers offer special de-skunking baths. This could be especially helpful for dogs with longer coats or stubborn sprays.
Has your dog ever had an unlucky encounter with a skunk? Do you have any secret tips? Do you even live in an area where skunks thrive?
Woof! (Hey, there!) Pierogi, Gilly and Sarah here. Thanks for stopping by our dog blog. We're a little dog-obsessed around here and Pierogi & Co. is all about inspiring you to enjoy the dog days. Because life's more fun with your best (furry) friend by your side. So grab a bone and follow along as we stop to sniff the flowers...