Outdoors Column: Slow Learner

Jag, our terrier, sees himself as quite the hunter. He is not particular about what he hunts, which occasionally gets him into trouble. He is starting to look a little rough from multiple scares from past battles fought; most won, some lost. He cleared a knew hurdle in his hunting career Saturday when he hunted down a skunk.


I have noticed several skunks that had been hit on the highway in the last week or so. They must all get out and wonder around at this time of year. It is unusual to see a skunk on the highway or anyplace else, except during a couple of weeks in spring and again in the fall. One must have had the urge to wander somewhere near where Jag was hunting. It more than likely did not end well for the skunk, and I know it did not end well for Jag.


My wife and I were working in the yard Saturday, preparing for winter, as the dogs ran around, enjoying the pleasant fall day. It is not unusual for Jag to take off and go hunting, so we did not think anything of it when he was gone for an hour or so. We decided to take a break in the garage about the time he re-appeared. Jag is an outside dog, but does enjoy coming into the garage when we go in. He stepped inside the door when the smell of skunk filled the garage like a thick acrid cloud. He was escorted back out faster than he came in.


On observation, we saw Jag’s eyes were watering and he seemed generally unhappy. The most common place for skunks to spray a dog is in the face. This seems to be a very effective defense. When threatened, a skunk will turn their tail and plant their hind feet, letting go with a stream of toxic fluid. The dog, thinking they are going to make short work of a slow-moving animal, suddenly finds itself facing the wrong end of the skunk and gets a blast that not only burns the eyes, but smells bad enough to make most animals leave.  I have only known one exception to an animal being turned away by skunk spray.


Hooch was half Rottweiler and half mastiff. He was a giant happy dog with no fear. He seemed to especially enjoy hunting skunks. When I would be out in the timber cutting firewood, Duke would be using claws and jaws to rip apart hollow logs to catch whatever might be living inside. When he would get a skunk was a great day for him and not so much for me. While sawing away, I would see motion out of the corner of my eye. It would be Hooch, bounding toward me with a skunk hanging from his mouth. It is impossible to out-run a happy dog that wants to show you his latest prize. If he caught a mouse or squirrel, he would just eat it. If he caught a skunk, he had to bring it to me. Duke spent much of his life smelling like a skunk and did not seem to mind at all.


It was during Duke’s tenure my wife came across the recipe to remove skunk aroma from dogs. It is very simple and effective. Mix a quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Rub the solution all over the dog, concentrating on the affected areas. Let is stand for a few minutes and wash off.


Some dogs never learn, but most do. If you have a slow learner in the family, keep the recipe handy.