I woke up at 4 a.m. to the barking of Carlos, the larger dog who sleeps outside. Next thing I knew the car was saturated with skunk smell. I burrowed my nose and mouth in my pajama shirt, crawled into the well behind the driver’s seat, put up the back seats, commanded Dwyn to migrate from the driver’s seat to the back seat, and maneuvered in. He’d warmed up the seat for me! After closing the windows I drove out and didn’t stop until I reached an open space well away from “my” meadow. Carlos, of course, followed behind.
Carlos, of course, had been skunked.
I hadn’t noticed that the car’s air conditioning fan was on low until it was too late. Later, I concluded that the “hit” happened at the front of the car. I was bringing skunk into the car.
Carlos politely kept his distance from the car once I parked. Options? I asked myself. I had the ingredients for a skunk bath in storage and accessible. I could drive into town slow enough that Carlos could follow behind. But I wasn’t remembering what it was I used for skunk baths in the past, even though I knew I had it! It wasn’t tomato juice, it was something I had found on the Internet the first time my former canine companion Thor put his nose where he regretted it.
I was confused. I had to sleep while I still could. I put water out for my poor canine companion, crawled to the back, relocated Dwyn to the driver’s seat, lowered the back seats and crawled under the blankets.
I woke up about three hours later when the sun was high enough to cook my lower half. I remembered that the skunk bath I had used successfully before contained used hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and baking soda. But how much of each? The right combination was required to get the “fizzy” chemical reaction necessary to get the stink out.
Telling Carlos that he was going to follow me into town, I started out. The dirt road was familiar and easy for him — I often let the dogs out to run behind and get exercise. I was relieved to see there were no trucks and horse trailers at the road’s entrance, as that meant he would not interact with other critters. On the main road, though, I knew we’d likely pass cattle. Both dogs often go crazy barking when they see cattle, no matter my attempts to calm them.
“You NEVER chase cattle, especially the little ones,” I often instruct as we drive past cows and calves on the road and lounging next to the road. “Just like you NEVER bark at horses!” A fair amount of the time they actually obeyed. But I think it had more to do with their mood than my training attempts.
Indeed, the cattle were just a few yards off the road. Indeed, Carlos ran over to “greet” them. He chased a couple of calves for a few moments, then decided to obey my repeated and screamed commands to “COME!” and “LEAVE IT!”
Back on the road I thought ahead to where we would next encounter livestock close to the road. The first corral came and went without incident. But I knew the next corral was RIGHT next to the road and had a few horses and a donkey. As we approached, I stopped and attached a leash to Carlos’ collar. Driving about 8 mph, I held Carlos leash while he trotted beside the car. He did so well I wondered if this might be a way to improve his leash training; he sorely lacks skills in that basic skill set. We passed the donkey and horses without incident.
Then I remembered that not far ahead was a vacant lot that was fully fenced. Hallelujah! It was owned by the couple from whom I bought my house, who were critter lovers. There was a “For Sale” sign on the property, but I figured the realtor would also understand if an explanation became necessary, which was doubtful.
This was a relief, because to take Carlos all the way to storage would require navigating an intersection that usually had traffic and therefore posed a safety problem.
I left Carlos with a bowl of water, reassuring him that “I always come back to you.” That’s the message and reality that helped him learn to trust me when I first adopted him. He’d been “problematic” with his previous owner, and remained so with me until I brought in a trainer. After taking his history, she concluded that Carlos chewed things (furniture, wood posts, groceries, etc.) because he had separation anxiety. She suggested I leave him for brief periods every day to help him believe that I always come home.
It worked. Carlos has not chewed for years.
I went into town, gathered supplies and returned to the fenced lot. The bath was difficult; Carlos did not like getting wet and since I can’t tie him out he frequently ran off. I realized I had not brought enough water for a thorough rinse. But eventually we finished, I rinsed him best I could, and we went on our way.