13 October 2008

Ode de Skunk

For the second time in the middle of the night I got up to let the Disreputable Dog (DDog) out because his tummy was bothering him and he needed to throw up. He's very civilized about these things and will determinedly keep after you until you get up and let him outside for he does not like mussing up his house. I stumbled to the door and then back in to bed, meaning to lie there just a few minutes for warmth and then to let him back in, but I must have fallen into a deeper sleep. Goodness knows I was tired having down 5 ten hour shifts on my feet at the bookstore in a row. A few hours later I was awoken by an acrid smell. I worried immediately that there was an electrical fire, goodness knows they wouldn't be tarring the streets at this hour of the night. So I crept from room to room trying to locate the source of the smell to no avail hardly noticing in my half awake sleep that the open window was not helping. At some point in my search I noticed the Disreputable Cat (DCat) lying in front of the door starring out in the darkness and remembered that the DDog was still out there. The cat always waits by the door for her dog. I let him in and went back to sleep, trying for the life of me to ignore the smell, the comforter pulled up over my head and telling myself that if it was a fire surely the smoke alarm would have rung.

The next morning I awoke very groggily having had relatively little sleep and, encountering my dad who was returning from walking the dogs, asked him if he knew the source of the smell. "Skunk" was his reply along with "don't bother to take a shower yet because you'll have to take your dog". It turns out that while I had forgotten the poor DDog outside he had met up with his first ever skunk, no there are no skunks in Alaska, and while he was probably going up to say hello to what he thought was a cat it sprayed him, right under my bedroom window. Since I haven't been around skunks for awhile myself and since I smelled it before I let him in my half slumbering brain did not make the connection. The front of his ruff and chest were yellow with skunk spray and he had come in and laid down on my bedroom carpet and tried to rub the offensive odor off. My mother, whose 60th birthday had been the day before, shouted at me "Happy birthday!" and I broke into peels of laughter. There was simply nothing else left to do.

Having done that I went about collecting the ingredients to chemically neutralize skunk spray. A former organic chemistry professor of mine (Dr William Wood) had analyzed the various chemical components of skunk spray and then continued on to figure out what denatured it. Of course I only had half the ingredients necessary but they would have to do. So the DDog and I stepped into the shower and I lathered him with my special mixture and waited five minutes before rinsing it out and shampooing him at which point he was banned to the sunny deck to dry out. After showering myself and removing the bedsheets and the rugs and bleaching down the tiled entry way I made a run to the store for more ingredients. Between spraying my carpet and room down with the Anti-spray solution (which is really meant to be rinsed out) and alternately flinging all the windows open and running a fan and closing them all up and turning up the heat (to vaporize it) we managed to decrease the smell immensely. Today, I will steam clean the carpet and hopefully that will remove any other residue although to be honest with you I've reached olfactory exhaustion so I'm not sure I can tell if it smells or not any more. I'll have to recruit some independent noses for a test.

Anti-Skunk Spray Recipe (Note: It may bleach things a bit!!)
by Dr William Wood
2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide (16 fl oz.)
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tsp. liquid detergent
Mix it all up and use immediately. Do not store!


  1. I have used that mixture when the Boy got skunked. It did help. But a faint snell of skunk did linger for about a month.

  2. Me too. I've used a version of that on my own clothes. Try "reeducating" your sense of smell by introducing another (preferably strong) smell. E.g., shover some fresh basil up your nostrils for a few minutes. THEN see if you can smell the skunk.

    Good luck.

  3. Oh yuck! Good luck getting rid of it.

  4. Oh my - it's bad enough just to drive by a skunk. My long-ago dog never quite managed that, thankfully! I'm glad you knew the right mixture - all I remember is something about tomato juice.

  5. Pupzilla got skunked the first time we took her camping. It was in the middle of the night also and I remember half-sleeping through that acrid smell and wondering who was cooking and burning something.

  6. ugh. been there, done that, and don't ever want to do it again!!

  7. I heard the tomato juice thing too. Apparently you have to practically bathe in it though.

    There are no skunks in the UK, so the first one I saw here in Canada caused me some consternation. It was on the steps that led up to my front door. I stood on the sidewalk, swaying slightly (it was 3 am and I was returning from a night of drinking) and pondered the following:

    exactly how far can they spray that stuff?
    are they easily spooked or might I be able to squeeze past it?
    is it too cold to sleep in the garden?

    I ended up retreating to the road and throwing gravel at it until it ran away. I waited a few minutes and then made a run for it!

  8. What an awesome life you lead. I have never met a skunk.

  9. With Deepest sympathy, I too have shared that adventure-as well as the porcupine-face one. aarrrggh

  10. I am fascinated with all the different species of skunks (spotted ones in particular)! Never had to deal with the spray though. I hope the concoction worked!

  11. Ugh! Poor you! I remember so well the smell of skunk, like burnt erasers. We had a really stupid, certainly anosmic, Beagle who would chase skunks constantly and the smell of skunk drifting through the woods made us suspicious every time.

  12. Hey lady!

    So glad that you dropped by to visit! It's been way too long. I am sorry to hear about the disreputable dog; but think of this: it would have been much worse if it were the disreputable cat. Cannot imagine washing the cat...

    Glad that you had the secret sauce to get it all off and out.

    Maybe the DDog scared the skunk enough that it won't come back!

    Please come over the hill for a visit anytime; I'd love it!

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  13. My word, it's too long since I've been over here - my sympathies about Eau de Skunk, and I'm sure that it's all more than sorted out by now.

    But I know it's too long since I've been here, since I was immediately and thoroughly warmed by the thought of the Disreputable Cat waiting by the door for her favourite doggie :)

  14. 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide (16 fl oz.)
    1 tsp. liquid detergent

    I know people who have caused explosions by mixing these.

    Make sure the peroxide is 2% or less.

  15. Hi -

    Are you coming back soon?

    Hope all is okay.

  16. Yes, how are you doing? I might pass through your area soon - will contact first.

  17. I have abandoned my blog, too. Sometimes I miss it. Today I visited you and realized that you probably miss yours, too. I hope that all is well in your world.

  18. cath, unfortunately tomato juice just overwhelms your senses - but doesn't actually get rif of the scent!

    chuck, indeed, I should have mentioned that - this is why I mentioned not to store it!!

    silver fox, you'd better! :)


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