Excerpt from A DACHSHUND'S MERRY-GO-ROUND LIFE, Book 5 of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES
from Chapter 4: I Got Skunked(Note: Sarge's thoughts are in italics)
"By the way, has anyone let Sargie out recently?” Mama asked. No, Mama, they haven’t, and I am so ready to go out!
Mama opened the kitchen door and motioned for me to go out. She told me she would come outside with me in a minute, because Mama seldom left me alone out there even though we live in the country. We also live beside a busy highway, and she didn’t want me going near the road. I remember thinking at the time: Mama, don’t you know by now that I am smart enough to stay away from traffic?
I always enjoy walking around in the yard, smelling the flowers and anything else that interests my sensitive nose. I lifted my head and sniffed the air. Aha! The neighbors down the road are having hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill again. Wonder if they’ll bring me one? I also smelled fall in the air that day. There was a hint of coolness, and a few leaves had changed color, but very few had actually fallen. I looked forward to playing in the piles of leaves, and so did the children.
In a moment, I heard Mama open the door to the carport side where I was. “Sarge! Come here, buddy! Mama wants you to come NOW!” I heard urgency in her voice, so I thought I’d better I head over to the carport, which was beside the new deck. Mama had a nice patio set on it as well as her hammock that Daddy had given her. On the other side of our deck was shallow woods, and beyond that was a neighbor’s house.
As I ambled over to the carport, I heard some rustling, so I turned, but saw nothing at the moment. Probably one of the neighbor cats exploring the woods, I reasoned. Suddenly, however, my nose picked up a very strong scent, and it definitely wasn’t a cat I smelled! My head snapped up, and coming from behind the house was something I didn’t like: a stinky ol’ skunk! I growled, How dare you come into my yard? Go away! I felt satisfied that he’d leave then, because a couple of other times I had run off skunks when they came around, so I was certain he’d be moving on.
But he didn’t. Mama called again: “Sarge, come see Mama, and hurry! I That skunk smell has gotten inside the house, so he is close by”—she stopped. I looked over to see her running down the stairs toward me. “Sarge, over there he is, and he’s coming after you! Run, Sargie, run to Mama!” You don’t have to tell me twice, Mama! I put it in high gear and ran toward Mama. That skunk was right behind me, looking wild eyed. I furiously barked at him: Hey! I told you to get lost! Now move on out! But he didn’t.
He came closer and closer, but I decided to stop and stand my ground. That trespasser made me angry--after all, it was MY yard, and I was as big as that ol’ skunk. Oh, I knew full well he could spray me, but his business end was turned away from me. I kept my eyes on him, anyhow.
“Sargie, don’t stop! Come on inside!” Mama called. I barked even harder, because she couldn’t see me there beside the van. I’ll run this ol’ skunk off, Mama, and will be right there. “Sarge! I hear you, but I can’t see you! Mama’s coming.” Good. Maybe you can persuade this stubborn ol’ skunk to leave our yard, I barked as I watched him closely. There we were, nearly nose to nose, and he was not backing down, which I thought was strange for a skunk, usually mild-mannered. Just as Mama came around the van, that bad boy turned around and sprayed me full in the face! Oh. Terrible. My eyes and nose started burning, and I rushed toward Mama. Oh, Mama! Help me! I am a real stinker, and I can hardly see!
“C’mon, Sargie! Let’s get you inside quickly! Mama was already back up the steps, holding the door for me. “Hurry! We have to get you inside and clean you up!” I ran as fast as my short legs would go up those steps. I glanced back, and that skunk was coming after me! Mama, help me—I’m not as fast as I was when I was young. Mama reached down, and holding her nose, gently pushed me inside and slammed the door.
Safely inside the kitchen, I heard scratching on the door. Mama yelled, “Hey, that skunk is trying to get in! I’d better call Animal Control—I bet he’s rabid!” Rabid? Oh no! Does that mean he has rabies?? I hate shots, but I’m glad you made me have that one at the vet. Oh, my burning eyes and nose!!
“Holly, give me Sarge and I’ll take him into the bathroom while you call,” said Miss Janet. “Do you have any hydrogen peroxide?” she called over her shoulder as she carried me.
“Yes—in the bathroom cabinet!” Mama called to her while phoning Animal Control. The children, who had been doing schoolwork at the dining room table, were reacting to the skunk smell as Miss Janet and I reached the bathroom.
Annika, who has the most sensitive nose in our family (besides me) was yelling, “Oh, Mama! What happened to Sarge? He stinks so bad! I’m gonna get sick!” And she headed to the bathroom down the hall and away from us, holding her nose.
“My eyes are watering, Miss Janet! I can’t breathe!” Alexa yelled.
“Kids, go into your parents’ bedroom and shut the door!” called Miss Janet from the tub where she had just deposited me. “It’s the farthest away from Sarge, and you need to stay in there for now, okay?”
“Sarge, you need a bath, ‘cause you’re making my nose hurt!” screamed Asher. Holding his nose, he ran down the hall after Alexa and slammed the door. Now it was just Mama, Miss Janet, and me, since Daddy was in Athens. Oooooh, this is miserable. Bet the cats are hiding somewhere, because I haven’t seen them. I’d hide too, if it would help!
Mama came from the kitchen and stood in the bathroom doorway. In her haste, she had accidentally put the phone on speaker, because Miss Janet and I could hear everything:
“This is County Animal Control. What is your emergency?”
“My dog just got sprayed by a skunk that is probably rabid. I need an animal control officer come out and take care of it. The skunk is scratching on the door, trying to get in! I’m afraid to let my dog out again until that skunk is gone!”
“Yes, ma’am. An officer will be right out. Do not open your door.”
“Don‘t worry, I won’t. Thank you!” Mama then verified our address, and the call ended.
“Sargie, we’ve gotta get you cleaned up. Janet, did you find the peroxide?”
“Yes, here it is, but I need the baking soda and your dish soap to make a paste.”
“I’ll go get those and a bowl from the kitchen. Watch Sarge for me. Oh, he looks miserable,” Mama said, wiping her eyes. “This smell is awful, so I know he must feel terrible. Hang in there, buddy. Miss Janet and I will get you cleaned up right away.” Mama disappeared. Yes, I am miserable and smelly. Oh, please hurry, Mama!
Even though I’ve always hated baths, this time was different—I was aching, my eyes and nose were burning, and the smell was awful—kinda like a cross between burnt rubber and garlic. GAG. Oh, please hurry, Mama. I hope I don’t die before you clean me up. By now, I was shaking uncontrollably all over. My muscles were aching, too. My eyes were watering, and I kept sneezing.
Annika peeked around the doorway, holding her nose. She sounded funny when she asked Miss Janet, “When will that awful smell go away? I can’t stand it!”
“Honey, your mama and I are mixing hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and some dishwashing liquid together to put on Sargie. I looked online last year when one of our dogs got sprayed, and that is supposed to kill the skunk oils on his skin and also kill the smell. You know how he hates baths! Go on back to Alexa and Asher now—you’re the big sister and we need you to be with them.” Still holding her nose, Annika nodded and whirled around, leaving the doorway. “Annika honey,” Miss Janet called after her. “I saw a fan in the hall. Turn it on high and make sure it is facing toward this bathroom, not that bedroom. Maybe that will help keep the smell out.”
Mama returned just then with several items in her hands. She set the bowl on the counter, poured some white powdery stuff into it, then a big squirt of blue liquid soap. Miss Janet opened the peroxide and poured most of it into the bowl, too. Mama mixed all that up with her hand, then said, “You hold him still, Janet, and I’ll spread this mixture all over Sarge. It’s the only way—wait! I hear a vehicle out there. I bet it’s the Animal Control officer. Keep Sarge in the tub!” Mama left to talk to the officer.
Miss Janet began putting that mixture all over me and rubbing it in. She also got a warm wet washcloth and wiped over my face and nose, and that helped some, but my eyes were still burning. Oh, my eyes hurt so bad, I whimpered. And I couldn’t stop shaking.
“Oh, Sargie, I hear Holly talking to someone outside. That must be the officer coming to get that ol’ skunk that sprayed you. How mean that was.” You’re telling me! Please do something about my eyes, I whimpered. Miss Janet went to the door and yelled: “Holly, Sarge’s eyes are burning and he’s crying. I need to make it stop so he’ll feel better!”
I heard Mama yell back to get the eye drops out of the bathroom drawer and put some in my eyes. I don’t care what they do to me right now as long as the smell and the pain are gone!! Miss Janet rummaged around in a drawer and brought out a small dropper bottle. “Okay, Sargie, this will help your eyes. Now be still.” She took the top off the bottle and held my head still with one hand. I wasn’t about to move if she could do something to stop the burning. She was gentle as she put several drops of the medication into my eyes, and it did help a little. She put the bottle on the counter and picked up the washcloth and bathed my face again. Then, she rubbed more of that mixture on my body, and I believe the smell was getting less strong. My muscles were relaxing, and I had nearly stopped shaking. Suddenly, I heard a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot! I heard the kids galloping down the hall toward the kitchen, with Annika shouting, “What happened, Mama? That sounded like a gun!”
Alexa looked in at me as she kept going toward the kitchen area. She had some white stuff all over her nose and hands. Miss Janet followed her, saying, “I’ll be right back, Sarge. Just sit tight.” Don’t worry. I can’t get out of this tub anyway, so I’m gonna just sit here until somebody washes this gunk off of me. Yuck!
A few minutes later, with things quiet once again, Miss Janet and Mama came back. Mama stood in the doorway and told the children to go to the living room and stay there—the bathroom was too small for five people! She turned to me: “Oh, poor dawg. You look miserable, so let’s finish washing that mess off of you after I open this window. The smell is still strong in here.” So Mama opened the bathroom window, and the fresh air coming in the window smelled so clean! But it made me colder, so I began shivering. “Sorry, buddy, but we’ve got to get that smell out of here before we all pass out. I’m going to wash you off now, okay?” YES, IT IS OKAY. The sooner the better, Mama!
Mama had the handheld shower. “Now Sargie, Mama’s just going to adjust the water temperature while Miss Janet rubs you all over. We don’t want the water to burn you or freeze you—we had to let that mixture stay on you for fifteen minutes so it would work, but I know you’re worn out and scared. Mama’s so sorry, poor little dawg.” Stop wasting time apologizing and hurry up!
While Mama and Miss Janet worked on me, Mama told her what had happened when the officer arrived: “I didn’t want to open the door, so when I heard the truck pull up, I raised a window in the living room and talked to him that way. As the officer got out of the truck, I explained what had happened and that I thought the skunk was rabid. He replied, ‘Yes, ma’am, it probly is rabid. Oh—an’ by the way, I’m Officer Leroy Owens—pleased ta meet ya. But I gotta lay eyes on the skunk meself before I kin call fer a deputy to come with a gun—I don’t carry no gun meself.’” Mama, you sound funny trying to talk like that officer. Wish I could laugh, but of course, dogs don’t laugh.
“Really?” asked Miss Janet. “I thought animal control officers had guns, too—some animals are rabid and are very dangerous.” Mama nodded, continuing her story.
“That skunk was wouldn’t show himself at first, so Leroy Owens had to walk around looking for it. I checked back through the window a couple of times, and the last time, Mr. Owens told me, ‘Yep, I seen that sucker. In fact, he’s a’comin’ after me!’ I watched, and that skunk was coming for him! It had been behind our van in the carport, so as Officer Owens came around to the front of the van, it charged at him!” Mama laughed as she turned on the warm water, spraying it gently over my body. Miss Janet rubbed my fur to get all the gunk off. What’s so funny, Mama?
“I laughed so hard when Officer Owens started running for his truck, screaming like a girl! That skunk chased him all the way to the truck, too. Owens had already gotten the truck door closed and grabbed his radio while that skunk scratched on his truck door!
“In only a couple of minutes, a patrol car drove into the yard, slammed on brakes, and two officers jumped out. One of them shot that skunk right there on our driveway! The deputy with the gun said the skunk had to be rabid, because skunks don’t usually charge and attack like this one did.”
“Rabid!” yelled Miss Janet. “It didn’t bite Sarge, did it?” Mama assured her that I hadn’t been bitten. But the smell is just about as bad as being bitten, Miss Janet. Mama was still spraying warm water all over me, washing away the smell and the gunk. Oh, I never thought a bath would feel soooo good!
All three children were now crowded around the doorway watching my bath and listening to Mama and Miss Janet as they discussed my near demise. Mama was saying, “I’m so glad we’ve kept Sarge’s rabies shots up to date, anyway. That skunk could have bitten him, you know!”
“Rabies??” screamed Alexa. “I DIDN’T KNOW THE SKUNK HAD RABIES! Oh no! It could have bitten you, too, Mama!” and Alexa smacked herself on the forehead and fell to the floor in a pretend faint. Always the drama queen, aren’t you, Alexa?
“Honey, that’s what the word ‘rabid’ means,” explained Mama. “The deputy told me that the skunk also sprayed the siding in the carport, so I’ll have to fumigate everything out there, too. Ugh—I feel kinda sick right now, on top of everything else going on.”
Miss Janet said she would open the rest of the windows and turn on all the overhead fans. As she went to do that, Mama really looked at the children for the first time since all this skunk business started. “Hey, what is that white stuff on your noses and hands? Y’all are a mess!”
Annika answered, “Mama, we just couldn’t stand the smell, so we got some baby powder and put it up our noses!”
“Yeah,” added Alexa,” but now we can’t smell anything! My nose is so stuffed up I feel like I have a cold!” And she sneezed.
“What in the world?” exclaimed Mama. “Asher, I haven’t heard from you yet. How’s your nose feeling?”
“Um, I can’t smell the skunk anymore, Mama, but I can’t breathe very much, either.” And then he sneezed, too. You kids sure come up with some wacky ideas around here.
Mama told them to go to her bathroom, get wet washcloths, and wash their faces with warm water. They were to make sure all the baby powder was cleaned up back there before she inspected it. They trooped out as Miss Janet returned.
“Got all the windows open and fans running,” she reported to Mama. “How’s our boy here doing?”
“He’s not shaking anymore, but he acts like his eyes are still bothering him. It’s okay, Sargie—Mama will put some more drops in your eyes after I get you dried off, and I think you’re about cleaned up. Let’s wrap you in a clean towel and hold you for a little while. I’m also going to give you half a tablet of the children’s allergy medicine, too. Remember, you took one before when you had an allergic reaction to some skin ointment the vet gave you? He told us then that dogs can take half of a children’s allergy tablet if they have allergic reactions. And boy, I would call this skunk encounter an allergic reaction!” Oh, Mama. I would call it a ruined nose, because I don’t think my nose will ever be the same again. All I can smell right now is burnt rubber and garlic. My eyes still burn, and I just feel awful all over.
Mama gently lifted me out of the tub and wrapped a big, fluffy towel around me. She carried me into the living room and sat down on the couch, holding me close. She gently rubbed me all over to get me dry and to remove the last of the mixture that clung to my fur. She asked Miss Janet, who had followed her into the living room: “Would you mind going to the medicine cabinet and get one of the kids’ allergy pills and break it in half? I want to give it to Sarge to help him feel better.”
“Oh, it will it make him sleepy, but that’s not a bad thing,” Miss Janet commented.
“Yes, it will, but don’t you think this poor dawg will feel better when he gets a nice nap after what he’s been through?”
“Of course. I’ll get him the medicine.” She returned in a moment and handed Mama something small. “Is everything under control now?” Miss Janet asked. “I need to get on home to my dogs—if you don’t need any more help.”
“Go ahead. I think we’ll all survive now,” Mama replied with a smile. “And thank you so much for staying and helping me! If you hadn’t been here, I think I would have just crumpled to the floor and curled up in a fetal position! God got us through this ordeal, but I hope we never have something like this happen again.” That makes two of us, Mama. Oh, I feel so tired. Mama held out her hand to me, and there was the allergy pill for me, but I didn’t mind taking it—I had done so on other occasions. I know it tastes like strawberries, so I chewed it up and swallowed it. Mama said I was such a good boy.
As Miss Janet went out the door, into the living room pranced Piper, Aslan, and Thor. The Lazy Trio. “Where have y’all been?” asked Mama. “You missed all the excitement, didn’t you?” I wish I could have missed all that excitement.
The children came in, too, following behind the cats. Overhearing Mama’s question to the cats, Annika answered, “But Mama, they didn’t miss out on the smell, did they? Don’t cats have good noses like dogs? They probably didn’t come out because they didn’t like the smell and all the noise.”
“Yes, cats have better noses than humans, but not as good as dogs’ noses.” Mama looked at me: “I just hope Sarge’s nose isn’t ruined for life.” Me, too, Mama. Right now it feels like it is still on fire and that awful smell is still in it. I sure hope the burning and the skunk smell go away soon!
Mama looked over the children, then spoke again. “Mmmmhmmm. Looks like you cleaned up nicely—and I hope my bathroom looks as clean. Tell you what, kids. We’ve had enough excitement for one day. I personally don’t feel like doing any more school today, do you?” They gasped, but didn’t say anything. She looked at the clock beside the TV. “It’s already one thirty, so I bet y’all are starved.” Her statement was accompanied by clapping and yelling. I suppose that means the children agree with Mama. “In fact,” continued Mama, “why don’t we go to the Burger Palace and have burgers and fries for lunch? Afterwards, we can all have ice cream sundaes. How ‘bout dat?” Mama asked with a twinkle in her eye. “Sarge will want to rest after his, er, excitement, so we’ll just leave him to it.”
“Yay! I’m so hungry now, Mama, but I was feeling sick a little while ago,” exclaimed Annika.
“Alexa and Asher—cat got your tongue?” laughed Mama. But Mama, the cats went to the back of the house, so they can’t have their tongues. Geez. “I presume y’all wanna go to the Burger Palace, too—am I right?”
They shouted that they did, so Mama removed my towel and laid me in my favorite spot on the couch, covering me up with my soft fleece blanket. The cats had gone back to wherever it is that cats go, Miss Janet had gone home, so I’d have the house virtually all to myself.
I’m sorry the deputy had to shoot that poor skunk, but I wouldn’t want it biting one of the children. He’s out of his misery, now, anyway.
I hardly remember them leaving because I fell asleep so quickly.