The past two weeks have forced me to move my blog to the present day. Having loved dogs all my life, I have an extreme fear of skunks. Now in the abstract I find them quite cute. One of my acquaintances once kept domesticated skunks in her home. I know they have terrible eyesight, similar to myself and this is why they often end up as roadkill. The automobile is their most dangerous enemy. And who doesn’t love Pepe Le Pew? Mel Blanc’s charming and romantic rancid skunk that has a crush on a black and white cat.
Last May I was shocked when suddenly my two dogs ran to the door barking crazily as a skunk scurried across our patio. I immediately contacted my former skunk owning acquaintance who advised me that skunks do not like noise or light. So each morning and evening when I let my dogs out, I turned on the light, had flashlight in hand and made lots of noise. I chanted something like, “Skunk oh skunk, please stay away, come again another day.” Then a few days later we smelled that obvious skunk roadkill scent and wondered, was that our skunk? We don’t like to think of dead animals, but we secretly hoped our skunk had died a quick and peaceful death. All was forgotten as summer arrived and along with it lawn mowers and other typically loud summer noises.
Then last week our household was reduced to one dog. My beloved dog of 14 years, Pumpkin had to be put to sleep as she faced ever increasing health issues. My husband and I could not bear to see her suffer, and though he had only known her for a little over two years, she had definitely become a “Daddy’s Girl.” Our other dog, Jose was quite confused by her absence. He looked up to her and respected her as his alpha. They liked to snuggle together and they only really had one fight on the first day he joined our household so that she could establish her dominant role. I used to joke that Jose was waiting for the right female to boss him around and that he was then perfectly content. Jose is without a doubt my dog soulmate. I rescued him from a friend who had a teenage son with some wild friends who were mistreating him. We bonded instantly and he never looked back. He actually could not wait to go with me and jumped into my car instead of his former owner’s. He is also the namesake of two very wonderful men. Jose Reyes who lost his battle with AIDs and Jose Perez who lost his battle with Lung Cancer. When I first adopted him I will never forget my conversation with Jose P. I explained to him that my brother thought I was crazy for getting a second dog. Jose encouraged me and said, “Don’t worry about what he thinks. This is your decision, and if it feels right to you then do it.” I then told him I planned to name him after my wonderful friend Jose and as usual had put my foot in my mouth when he became excited and I explained I meant Jose Reyes. “No, not you my friend Jose who passed away from AIDs years ago. Remember him?” Sometimes my comments come pouring out and can come across as completely insensitive. I immediately explained that I also thought Jose P was a wonderful person, but still alive and that I thought of Jose my terrier as a namesake. Of course he understood. Little did we both know that he would be diagnosed with Lung Cancer just two years later.
So this past Tuesday, my husband awakened at 6 AM and it was quite dark out. Jose went with him as is the routine to go outside first and then have breakfast in the kitchen. The next thing I know, a terrified dog jumps into my bed with my husband close behind yelling. To say Jose smelled is an understatement. He reeked of a putrid mix of onion, garlic, urine and burnt rubber. I bounded out of bed in a daze grabbed him and ran to the tub. He did not smell like essence of skunk roadkill, so I had no idea what had happened. As the vomit came up in my throat, I held it back and shampooed him with his dog shampoo. My husband helped and then began stripping the bed. The entire house smelled of this rancid odor. I then spent all day doing load of laundry after load of laundry. Jose was bathed in every internet recommended remedy. The PBS website explained the initial spray of skunk smells more like putrid onion and garlic. The one that worked best was vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Dawn Detergent and baking soda. Everywhere Jose had went smelled of skunk. When my husband arrived at his office several docs and nurses exclaimed, “Eww, I smell skunk.” He had to take his jacket outside to the trunk of the car. I am used to some pretty bad smells working in a hospital, but this was the worst ever. I even had to sponge clean the mattress in a peroxide, baking soda solution. We could not save Jose’s dog bed. When my husband is tired he does not think to yell the simple command, “Jose WAIT!” It might have stopped him in his tracks. Now every morning he will chant his own skunk stay away song and I will place some moth balls in the yard. After many scented candles, one more bath for Jose and lots more laundry, I think our house is finally back to smelling fragrantly of cleanliness.
Now my poor little 10lb. Rat Terrier has recovered, my husband and I did not blame or yell at each other once, and I could laugh a bit at my OCD home cleanliness being tossed on its ear. Of course this is nothing in the grand scheme of things compared to losing Pumpkin or my two wonderful human Jose’s, but it was still an event to be remembered and one I hope to never experience again.
What events have tested your composure lately? Write me as I need a good laugh or cry.