My dog is lacking in the wisdom of ancient repugnance

Back in October, I worried about Coco possibly having a close encounter with a local skunk. I called it one of my worst fears, which it is, and I have dreaded the night when Coco and a skunk actually cross paths.

It finally happened on Thursday "night," then again last "night." (The two encounters took place first in the wee hours of the morning.) Around 3:00 a.m Friday morning, Coco woke me up in an agitated state letting me know she wanted to go outside. I'm groggy and half awake, so I just let her out to "do her business." Except, instead of coming back inside as she normally does, she was hitting the fence in an agitated state while whining. I had to get a flashlight to investigate, and there was nothing there, but I immediately smelled the skunk. I made her come in, and she had enough of the skunk scent on her that it was annoying, but not so much that it was an emergency. Obviously she had not been sprayed, but I suspect she rubbed up against some area that had had contact with the skunk. I was so upset I couldn't get back to sleep easily, and I gave Coco a stern lecture. Hah! Little effect that had. For last night it was exactly the same thing; Coco knows the damned thing is in the yard, and she woke me up to go skunk hunting. Stupidly, I let her out again (I guess I hoped that my yard was back to its "normal" state and all would be well), and I heard her jumping at the fence, obviously in hot pursuit of a skunk that had (thank God) had the good sense to leave. Perhaps they're smart enough to know when they're dealing with a dog that is nutty enough to take a musk blast and then kill them anyway. (I certainly hope so, but I don't like these highly speculative odds...)

The whole arrangement is unacceptable, big time. As I see it, I have a right to let my dog out in my own yard at any time for any reason. And no damned smelly-assed weasel relative has any right to mess with me.

The problem is, arguments based on rights and fairness are lost on wild animals.

So I remembered that some of the comments to my last post about skunk worries were quite helpful. "Captain Ned" offered a kitchen variety recipe consisting of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, Veeshir discussed the tomato juice option, and Sissy Willis mentioned a commercially available remedy which she said worked great on her skunk-sprayed cat.

The worst case scenario hasn't happened yet, but after such precariously close encounters, I thought I'd go out and buy the commercial product, which I found at Petsmart.


It contains some sort of natural enzyme, and has received rave reviews, and I am very grateful to Sissy for telling me about it. I hope I never have to use it, but I believe in being prepared for emergencies, and I'm glad I got a bottle.

I was intrigued by the French translation just under the skunk on the label:

Demenageur d'Odeur de Mouffette

Mouffette is the French word for skunk, and so because Coco is quite full of herself and thinks she is a princess, I have been scolding her using the French word Mouffette. (Non non Mouffette, Coco!) Whether this will have any effect I don't know, as I am afraid Coco may be one of those stubborn dogs described at UC Davis's pest management page for skunks:

Some dogs will confront skunks whenever they get an opportunity. Even though they suffer when they get sprayed, some dogs never learn.
I did not need to read that, which is a way of saying I didn't want to read that, so maybe I did. I'm afraid that Coco's answer is "Oui oui Mouffette, Eric!"

The UC Davis site (along with other sites) suggests household ammonia as a skunk repellent, so I poured some ammonia based cleanser along the problem fence area, and I hope it helps.

Maybe I should try scolding Coco in Latin, for the Latin name for skunk is Mephitis. Which means the French word is basically their version of the original Latin word, which BTW, comes from a stinky goddess of the same name. She personified toxic gases!

In Roman mythology, Mefitis (or Mephitis) was the personification of the poisonous gases emitted from the ground in swamps and volcanic vapors. Mephitic, derived from Mefitis, is an adjective in the English language meaning "offensive in odor"; "noxious"; and "poisonous."

Mefite is also a solfatara, a gaseous fissure, associated with the Roman Goddess, Mefitis. It is located in Italy along the Via Appia between Rome and Brindisi. There, the ancient Romans would rest on their travels and pay homage to the goddess by performing animal sacrifices using the fissure's deadly gases. Today, it lies near the village of Rocca San Felice in the province of Avellino (Campania region). The solfatara still emits deadly volcanic gasses originating from the Vesuvian volcanic system.

Ancient wisdom? Or ancient repugnance?

Whatever it is, I wish Coco had some.

(I better not tell her, or she'll claim she's engaged in religious worship....)

posted by Eric on 08.21.10 at 09:10 PM


Just set a Havahart trap and transport it to an upscale neighborhood.

While waiting for the skunk to be trapped, you can entertain yourself by figuring out how to deal with a skunk in a trap.

There are also baby enclosed skunk traps but real men will avoid them.

rhhardin   ·  August 22, 2010 3:21 AM

When I was growing up in Colorado, we had a cocker spaniel that managed to get sprayed at least once a year for 15 straight years.

That was annoying, but he also managed to get porcupine quills in his nose or mouth almost as often. That was a real failure to learn.

GaryC   ·  August 22, 2010 11:25 AM

Have you tried scolding the skunk?

M. Simon   ·  August 22, 2010 12:09 PM

Have you tried misdirection?
Get a squirrel feeder to attract some rats with fluffy tails to keep Coco occupied.

Veeshir   ·  August 22, 2010 2:21 PM

Personally I use a flash light and a firearm when skunks show up in my yard. I have a Ruger 10/22 which when used with CCI CB Longs is pretty quiet or if it isn't really late I have a 12 gauge with #6 shot.

ScottM   ·  August 22, 2010 6:45 PM

I commend Coco's desire to protect you from skunks. She merely misunderstands which essence of the skunk you desire protection from.

Perhaps she doesn't fully understand the reason a skunk stinks up the whole place, therefore she wishes to eliminate the entire skunk.

She is a dog, not a Congresscritter, therefore not attuned to nuances of rights.

Thank her, give her a treat and a big ole hug from me :-)

Donna B.   ·  August 23, 2010 2:14 AM

I do look forward to all the various lessons one might take from Coco and extend to good governance and the actions of a good military.

Like any good dog, she'd rather take the "gas" than you have to suffer it first hand.

And... can you possibly guess from my meanderings that I've been married to a Marine for many years?

It has its interesting intervals!

Donna B.   ·  August 23, 2010 2:33 AM

Eric: Your link made me go back and google my kitties' strange encounters of the odiferous kind through the years. Best remedy turned out to be homemade mix of baking soda, peroxide and dishwashing liquid:

In my cats cases, I think any remembrance of encounters past was overridden by their instinct to go for the jugular!

Sissy Willis   ·  August 23, 2010 11:43 AM

Donna B. nailed it above. To elaborate: peroxide - 1 qt., baking soda - 1/2 cup, dish washing liquid - 2 table spoons, mix well and then apply with a medium soft brush and rub it in thoroughly. We live in the middle of a 20 acre wood in the Ozarks and it has become an annual ritual. Both our mutts love the attention. One man's opinion--this beats anything I have tried over a lifetime spanning 78 years. Enjoy that "personal time" with your dog and don't rinse him off too soon.

Cec Moon   ·  August 23, 2010 7:53 PM

One thing that worked for me in the past besides the Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap remedy was ...buying Coyote urine (one of the skunk's natural predators) and marking our territory. That made the skunks stay away and my dog stayed skunk free for a few years until he passed away.

Rosemary, The Former QOAE   ·  August 24, 2010 9:31 AM

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