Noodle versus the Skunk

Noodle, during happier times

Noodle, during happier times

Our dog Noodle got sprayed by a skunk last night.

I had just walked in the house from visiting with one my work friends. She had a design issue with one of her products which was causing issue for her and had asked if I would stop by. It turned out that it was pretty straightforward to figure out, and she had been pleased. It’s nice when things can be easy.

Getting back to the house, I unwrapped my dinner that had been left out for me and walked to the living room to where my wife and youngest daughter were watching the Great British Baking Show. “Sit down,” they said.

“I’m tired, can’t we watch something else?”

“This is almost done”, said my youngest. “They have much more yellow teeth than we do.”

“Who?”

“British people. Look.“

“I don’t want to look at people’s teeth. I’m eating.”

“You’re grumpy,” said K.

“Am not”, I said, but I definitely was. I ate a sprig of asparagus.

At that moment, we heard anxious, agressive barking. My youngest shot up. “Where’s Noodle?” She asked.

I shrugged. I hadn’t seen him when I came into the house.

The barking got louder. K looked concerned. “Wait, is he outside?” We live off a busy street, so Noodle being outside alone was never a good sign.

My youngest jumped up and ran for the front door. “Oh, no!”

I got up, carrying my dish with me. I ate a french fry while I followed.

“He’s not out front.” she said, turning back to me.

I put my plate down. We could still hear him barking. I started walking through the house to the backyard. At the steps, I could hear Noodle running around the grass.

“It’s okay,” I said. “He’s back here.” Noodle was running in circles in our tiny grass plot and rubbing his face in the turf.

“Come on, boy. Enough playing, in the house.”

Noodle looked up and then started trotting toward the back door.

And then I smelled it. There are times when I’ve been in the countryside or rural neighborhood  and have caught the scent of a skunk from far off. Though somewhat acrid, it mixes with the smells of the leaves, soil, and wood bark. I’ll take a breath and say, that’s not so bad. It’s almost nice, I think. That wasn’t what I smelled. Actually, I don’t know if I could say I smelled anything as much as I suddenly felt that an evil spirit had walked into the house. “NOODLE, STOP!” I shouted.

Noodle, half-way into the kitchen, turned to look at me.

K shouted from the dining room. “OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THAT SMELL?” She appeared in the doorway with her shirt over the lower half of her face.

My youngest walked into the kitchen, and quickly started backing up, her hands held out in front of her as if someone had just pulled a gun on her. “OH NO, OH NO.”

“Out, out, boy.”

Noodle cocked his head at me, as if to say, you just asked me to come in.

“Yep, I know. But, outside. Let’s go.” As he went out through the laundry room door, I shut and locked it.

“Was it a skunk?”

“Yes, it was a skunk.”

“Do we have tomato juice?”

“You don’t use tomato juice. There is something you use with baking soda.”

My youngest walked by. “I need something for my nose.”

Noodle started scratching at the door and barked.

“What do we do?”

“Give me a minute, I need to look this up.”

My older daughter who had been in her room with the door shut opened it up and looked out. “Wait... what is that...? Uh, no way.” She slammed the door and locked it.

I went to my laptop, opening Google and searching for “skunk + dog + recipe + smell”.

“What do we need?”

My youngest came back in the room. “IM REDDY.”

I looked up and saw that she had put a red paperclip over her nose. She handed a paperclip to K “HIR MOM, UN FUR YOU.”

“Doesn’t that hurt your nose?”

She shrugged.

“Okay, we need baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. Can you look to see if we have hydrogen peroxide in the in the bathroom?”

A moment later, my youngest called out “WE DUNT.”

K called out. “I’ll go get it.”

“MUM, I’LL GER TOO.”

“Traitor.”

“SURRY, DED.”

——

I walked by the laundry door and looked out the window. Noodle was standing on the back landing, occasionally giving a half-hearted scratch at the door. I had found a half-filled bottle of Febreze under the sink and had been spraying it with abandon around the house, but the smell of Noodle standing next to the house seemed to cut through everything. I grabbed his leash and carefully opened the door. Noodle pushed his nose past my leg to make room to get back into the house.

“Come on, boy,” holding up his leash and sidling onto the landing, closing the door and down the steps. Suddenly wondering why we were going for a walk, he followed me out to the backyard. The yard didn’t as much smell bad as make me feel like someone was punching my face right behind my eyes. I attached the leash to Noodle’s collar and placed the other end through the iron bench that sat rusting in the dark. I went back to the steps and coated the whole outside with Febreze, though I felt like I was using a squirt gun against a giant, smelly tidal wave.

A few minutes later, K and my youngest came home. “The smell followed us to the store!”

My youngest handed me the bottle of hydrogen peroxide. “People kept looking at us and sniffing.”

I grabbed a bucket and mixed in the baking soda and dishwashing liquid. I poured in the hydrogen peroxide and the mixture started fizzing. Rubber gloves, I remembered, I need rubber gloves.

Walking out into the backyard, Noodle looked up at me, struggling against his leash.

“Sorry, boy,” I said. “This is going to suck.”

There are few experiences like washing a befouled dog with an equally foul-smelling, fizzing solution in the dark while he tries to run away. I kept trying to say things like “good boy” and “it’s not so bad” when we both know that it was that bad and it wasn’t going to end anytime soon. Inside, K started lighting multiple insense burners so that house looked and smell like it was mildly on fire.

The amazing thing was that I didn’t see a single one of my neighbors. I had half-expected my old Silcilian neighbor, Ignacio, to come out waving his hand in front of his face and say in heavily accented English, “Your dog, he dumb-shit.” I would nod, “Yep, he definitely is,” I would say. But, he never came out. Nor did Ms. Mondal, the 90yr old Indian lady on the other side of us. I realized we had the olfactory equivalent of multiple dead bodies on our front lawn. No one wanted to see what was going on. They just wanted to close their windows, lower the blinds and light a scented candle. 

———

A cleaned and scoured Noodle, post-skunk encounter

A cleaned and scoured Noodle, post-skunk encounter

An hour later, I plopped down on the couch and looked down at my dinner plate, my favorite food ice-cold. I had showered and put on fresh clothes. I wasn’t sure what we could do with my other other ones. Burn them?

I ate a cold french fry. I looked over. Noodle was on the couch, looking thoroughly miserable. I had washed him with the hydrogen peroxide solution three times, and then my youngest had washed him twice with his normal pet shampoo. She sat next him and petted him gently.  He was squeaky clean, and smelled of a strange combo of baking soda and pet fragrance. Every once in awhile I could smell a whiff of skunk, but I couldn’t tell if it was Noodle, me or just a gust of wind from outside. Was it gone or did I just not notice it anymore? I realized I didn’t care.

My youngest turned the TV back on and restarted to the Great British Baking Show. It was near the end and the judges were deciding who was going to stay or go. I looked up from my plate. Wow, they really did have yellow teeth.