Monday, August 26, 2013

Something stinky this way comes

Just beyond the reach of the floodlight, something bad was happening.

“Memphis, get back here!  MEMPHIS!  No, no, no, no, no, no.  Aw, dude, this is bad,” I said. 

“What’s going on?” my wife Kara asked from her hotel room in Tulsa.  We’d been on the phone, saying goodnight during her work trip, when I’d decided to take the dog for one last visit to the backyard.  Rather than meandering down the stairs like usual, Memphis bolted down in one leap, ran to the edge of yard and then pulled up short, jumping and growling.  In the darkness just beyond her, I could see an occasional flash of white fur.

The regular reader(s) of this column will recall that last week, I discovered the laxative effect of having a large timber rattlesnake announce its presence beside my foot.  This column is the second (and I sincerely hope final) installment of a series I’m tentatively calling “Nature Sucks.” 

“Memphis!  Memphis!” I called, but the commotion continued.  A feral white cat lives in our neighborhood, emerging every couple of months to prove that it can take care of itself just fine without humans and their Fancy Feasts.  Memphis, I assumed, was tangling with the wrong feline.

Just as I started to run out to extract Memphis, she came slinking back into the light, trotting toward me with her head down. 

“Something’s not right.  This is bad,” I told Kara.

I opened the door and brought Memphis inside, turning up the kitchen light so I could get a better look.  No obvious damage, but she looked distressed.   

“I don’t see any blood,” I said, and that’s when it hit. 

“Aw, DUDE!” I said, throwing the door back open and commanding Memphis outside.  But it was too late.  She’d already brushed against the curtains, stepped on our carpet and wafted all over the place.  Apparently, from a distance, in the dark, much like Pepe le Pew, I can’t tell the difference between a cat and a skunk.

When you drive by a skunk, you think, “Hey, you know what?  That smells kind of bad.”

But when your dog takes a direct hit to the face and then comes into your kitchen, the input to your senses can no longer be described as a smell.  It’s a full sensory overload.  The concentrated stench of burnt rubber and sulfur would have made Satan dry heave.  It felt like a NASCAR race had just taken place inside my mouth, and all the drivers had just burnt their hair with curling irons. 

All of this is just a long preamble to explain to my neighbors why I was running around in my underwear at 1AM last week, cussing and chasing the dog with the garden hose, soap suds flying everywhere.

“Sorry I’m not there to help,” Kara told me after my initial pass at the dog, though part of me figured this was cosmic payback for the time both kids caught a stomach bug while I was in North Carolina.

“I can’t go to the store with the kids asleep upstairs, so I just had to use what we have in the house: Palmolive and Head & Shoulders.  Memphis still stinks, but she won’t be getting dandruff anytime soon,” I replied.

“What about baking soda?  That might work,” Kara suggested.

One helpful Internet post I’d read on the topic of skunk remediation said that if you didn’t get rid of the smell right after the incident, the odor could persist for up to two years.  So I dumped half-a-box of Arm & Hammer on the dog.

“Did it work?” Kara asked.  Memphis looked pasty and pathetic as she rolled around in the yard.

“I think it helped,” I replied.  “But if a heat wave comes through tomorrow, she might turn into a casserole.”

You can bathe Mike Todd in tomato juice at

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