Last night, Randal and I are innocently sitting, watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (what else is there to do on a Friday night, I ask you?). It was about 10:00 p.m. Then the dog, who had been sitting curled up on the couch with us, asked to go outside. No problem. We put the outdoor light on out back and sent him out, then went back to our show.
5-10 minutes later, we heard the weirdest noise outside. At first blush, I thought the dog had started to growl to be let in, though usually he'll give a short sharp bark. But no, this was a manic, slightly crazed constant "what-are-you-and-what-are-you-doing" kind of growl. The kind he usually gives to pieces of cardboard and plastic bags that have the temerity to move on their own, except more high-pitched and urgent.
I went to the back door and looked out, then shrieked, "Oh my god there's something in the backyard!" The dog was on the patio growling fiercely at something black and long-tailed that was cowering, back arched, under a plastic patio chair. I can't even remember who tumbled out of the house first, me or Randal, though Randal (as usual) was the braver of the bunch and went over to snag Rion and also close enough to get a glimpse of what this animal was.
As the thought crossed my mind, "Is it a cat? Or - no, not a-", Randal shouted, "It's a skunk!"
Without further delay, Randal hauled the dog back by the collar and into the house just behind my fleeing back. And within 5 seconds of getting indoors, the smell hit us. Rion had been skunked. And now the whole house was getting skunky, too.
Randal ran upstairs with the dog in tow (who followed somewhat reluctantly, as he still wanted to go outside to confront this intruder some more), and I spent the next 10 minutes running around the house, first trying to locate some tomato juice (we drink it regularly but turns out that we, of course, are almost out at the moment) with which to wash the dog, and then with an air freshener spray bottle, trying to get rid of the horrible smell.
So I am happy to report that tomato juice does, indeed, rid a dog of skunk smell, even when one only has a tiny amount of juice left (good thing Rion is a Jack Russell terrier, I guess, and not a Newfoundland dog).
Poor Rion, looking scruffy, undignified, and, well, REDDISH, post-skunk.
On the other hand, air freshener is not an effective agent against eau de skunk. Even this morning, I get occasional whiffs of skunk smell. Hopefully it's not actually too bad; i.e., we didn't just get used to the smell when in fact our house reeks. Yuck.
As for the skunk, I don't know where he came from. We've known there's a skunk around, as every few nights, there will be a distinct skunk smell in the air. I'm always a little nervous when we take night walks that we will run into him (though apparently the thing I actually needed to fear was suicidal chipmunks). But in my own backyard??? Is nothing sacred?
Today we are going to comb our yard (shouldn't take long - it's tiny) to ensure that there is no skunk hideout. Randal was doubly-brave and checked it out last night, but didn't see anything. I just want to make sure, however. Do skunks jump fences? Because I'm pretty sure they don't know how to open gates and then close them nicely behind them. How did the skunk get in here? And why? Is he stealing from our garden?
All this, and more, on an upcoming episode of Pixxiefish in the Sea...or, ahh, with any luck, NONE of this upcoming because there will NOT be any further encounters with skunks! (knock on wood)