Saturday, June 26, 2010

That Stinks!

I should explain the events leading up to the anniversary of Kelsey's death.  At some point in the future, we may be able to look back at them with some humor actually.  As it is right now, we're still trying to wipe, wash and deodorize the evidence away.

The thing about creating your own personal game preserve on your little patch of land is that along with the sweet little fawns, bouncing across your grass like their legs were pogo sticks, and the snowy white owl, the blood red cardinals, the graceful hummingbirds, the bunnies, turtles and cavorting squirrels that bring you joy, you have to contend with snakes, rats, awful tree roaches that fly at you when you try and destroy them, other weird bugs that you don't even know what they're called, but they look nasty, and the skunks.

Why skunks choose to make their home on a piece of property with multiple big dogs is a bit beyond me.  They are either not very bright or extremely arrogant.  Maybe both.  But, I have known for a few years now that at least one skunk hangs out around my house - the unmistakable evidence wafting into the house from somewhere nearby more than once.  And Cheyenne has bumped into it in the past.  So, I keep skunk neutralizer as part of the normal inventory of supplies.  Despite knowing this, I continue to grow complacent and forget to clap or shout loudly when I let the dogs out at night to warn any lurking critters to steer clear.  Thursday night was no exception.

I was tired despite it only being about 10:00, so I let the pack out back for one last potty break before I trudged off to bed.  I stopped Luke on the deck, my long haired dog who hates being brushed, to try and brush out some burrs from his coat while the rest scattered into the yard.  As a result, my back was turned to the events that transpired with lightning speed, but from evidence at the scene, I have deduced the following happened:

Cheyenne, her Alpha coyote dominance overwhelming her common sense, saw a skunk in the yard and chased it under the porch to where it was cornered right under our back door.  Cornered, the critter does what they do.  Clearly hit at very close range, Cheyenne comes tearing out from under the porch and runs like Seabiscuit for the back door.  Marissa, who happens to be standing in the dining room near the door, sees her running and opens the door for her so she doesn't slam herself into it.  Cheyenne is already in the house, bee-lining it to my bed where she is rolling over everything on it trying to wipe the spray from her before I, who is standing right there mind you, straighten up and realize what is happening. Then it hits me.  That horrible almost sulphur smell that, at first, smells as though some electrical fire is raging, which then settles into a permeating, horrible and unmistakable smell of skunk.  Greg smells it when I do and runs out back, asking, wide-eyed in alarm, "What's burning?"  Nothing, dear, I should have said, just our senses.  That's when I look down at the deck right by the threshold to the back door and see what looks like spilled oil; these little splotches of something that weren't there when I came out only a few moments before.  That later became Exhibit A in my recreation of the crime.  I concluded that was actually the oily remnants of the skunk's attack.  Not a foot by the back door to my house, now wide open as Greg tries to orient himself to what was going on.

All of this happened relatively quickly, but the damage was done even more quickly.  We chased Cheyenne out, scrambled the rest of the dogs in (Luke almost grinning with delight that his grooming session had been cut short), stripped everything off the bed and immediately into the washer, stripped the couch and chair cover off from the living room just for good measure, doused Cheyenne in the neutralizer and lit every scented candle we own.  But the smell quickly settled over every inch of the house like a toxic blanket.  In the meantime, Cheyenne was either highly remorseful for the obvious consternation she was causing, or got hit in the eyes with the venom, but when I went to check on her, she was rubbing her face into my knees with a vengeance and trying almost to meld herself into me.  Always my comforter, I comforted her, which meant that I was wallowing in whatever she had been hit with, but the smell was permeating everything, so I didn't notice how I smelled per se.

We left Cheyenne out that night, which she did not protest, probably realizing that the air outside was better than inside the house and finally got the newly washed, but not particularly wonderful smelling mattress pad and clean sheets back on the bed, and I collapsed into it some time near midnight.  Greg tucked me in with the goodnight wish, "If you go to sleep, you won't smell it."

But, I did.  The strength of that smell was so strong that it woke me up over and over.  The depth of my exhaustion would pull me back down into sleep a while later, and then the smell would bring me back up.  Finally, morning came, and I scrambled to get dressed for work and out of the house as fast as I could.

Relieved to be in the office, more than happy to be in my little cubicle for once, I noticed that I still smelled it.  I dismissed it initially as just being stuck in my nostrils.  Then I held my hands to my nose.  Oh my God!  That's me!  I smell like skunk!  I picked up the canvas bag I always carry with the sundry things a cubicle working female needs (but doesn't have an office to leave them in) to pull out my lunch bag and realized that both my canvas bag and the nylon lunch bag totally reeked!

I mentally ran through my options.  I had none.  One of our team is always off on Friday and another had taken a vacation day, so we were short handed as it was.  Plus, where I would go?  Home?  NO thank you!  So, with my co-workers being kind enough not to give me too hard of a time, although acknowledging the smell, I stuck it out (or should I say "stunk" it out) until I could get home and get in the pool - hoping the chlorine would over power the skunk.

In the meantime, Greg had gotten a different neutralizing agent, several cans of Oust and more candles and waged war against the permeating smell.  But, by the time I came home Friday night, it was still pretty bad.  If you stood on our front walkway, you could begin to smell it seeping from the front door. However, it had dissipated enough, or I was tired enough, that I slept through the night.

Saturday dawned and we all basically ran away from home for the day.  Greg went off to play that video golf game he's addicted to, and Marissa and I went to run errands, making a stop first at the grocery store where I noticed, as I stood in line, that I STILL could smell myself.  So, horrified, Marissa and I sampled all the body sprays, trying to find the strongest possible one, finally settling on White Gardenia, and then dousing myself in it once we reached the car, again at the next stop, and the next, etc.  By the time we met Greg for a late matinee, I probably reeked of falsely sweet old lady smell mixed with just a hint of skunk.

Sunday morning, thankfully, it hung only in pockets of the house and clung stubbornly to some of the fabrics, but for the most part, the air was once more breathable.  Maybe even a little better than usual in some spots.  Let's face it, seven dogs and two cats does not make for a fresh smelling air space.

Cheyenne still smells less than good.  I generally like the way she smells and will bury my nose into her coat.  I love everything about her.  But, this week, I've been a little timid to touch her, which has clearly upset her, and she's reacted by clinging.  So, I've caught a slight scent on me now and again all week - up to and including a day I was called into a meeting unexpectedly, self-consciously trying to sit a little ways apart from the particpants while not seeming stand-offish.

You wonder if the cosmos somehow set this calamity upon us to help distract us. Maybe.  And, to an extent, it worked.  But, surely, having us win some sweepstakes, or having Troy Polamalu visit us because he'd heard what an awesome fan I am, or bumping into David Cook at Starbucks would have worked just as well.  In the meantime, I am remembering to clap loudly before I let the dogs out at night.  My nemesis, Darth Skunk, is still out there!


  1. there are still little hints of skunk smell in random places in Jacob's bathroom from when I got there. And when I got my tshirt on, ftresh ou of my suitcase, at Jacob's Grandparents' after my shower on Saturday, I smelled skunk on the collar of my shirt... which had been hanging in my closet through the whole ordeal. Weird shit.

  2. I hope that damn skunk is pleased with himself!