As Alfie and I go for our daily walks in the early morning, it is dark.
I usually don't wear my glasses as I can see fairly well, at least well enough to see cars coming, stuff on the sidewalk, etc.
I have had Alfie so many years, that I trust him walking along beside me without holding his leash. He is leashed, I am just not holding on to it. If I sense that he has seen or smelled something and is about to chase, I usually can grab or step on the leash to prevent him from getting away.
Recently, we were out and heading east on the trail along Wilbur Street. We then turned north along 10th Street. Just as we got past the NRD Office, Alfie looked over to the back of the building and then took off. I was not fast enough to grab the leash. I looked to where he was heading and could make out a black and white object.
"Please be a cat," I remember thinking.
As I ran after Alfie, and got closer to the object, it was obviously a skunk. I grabbed the leash and pulled Alfie away. I heard a little bit of a moan.
For a few seconds, I couldn't smell anything. When we got back on the trail, I knelt down and sniffed Alfie. And there it was, a skunk smell. And then I sniffed my arms. We had both been sprayed!
There was only one thing to do — head back home. As we turned around, I looked over and the skunk was moseying its way to the west.
Upon arriving home, all I had was an oatmeal shampoo to bathe Alfie. That would have to do. I didn't have any tomato juice and wasn't going to a store at this early hour. Plus, I didn't smell any better than Alfie.
My co-workers let me know that Alfie was not the only one who smelled like a skunk. I knew I had a "fragrance."
On my way home from work, I purchased a liquid skunk remover. Alfie received a second bath. Plus, I sprayed him with some “dog cologne.” It seemed to help.
A few days later, we attended the Doggie Splash. The mixture of the skunk spray and the pool chlorine reacted in a negative way and Alfie smelled even worse than when he was initially sprayed. So, Alfie got a third bath in less than a week and in his body language, told me he was none too happy with his human.
Since this first incident, we had another skunk sighting a little further north of the NRD building, under the apple trees. I now keep a hold of Alfie's leash until we are past the NRD building and the apple trees.
And what's that saying about bad things happen in threes? Just days after the second sighting, as Alfie and I had just left the house and were walking down 16th Street to Wilbur Street, a skunk appeared from my front yard, crossed within five feet of us, and proceeded to crawl down the storm drain. Both Alfie and I just stood there, not moving. Neither of us were sprayed.
Three skunk sightings, once sprayed. Overall, I guess we have fared OK.
Doug Cook is a member of the Jeanette Hunt Animal Shelter Board of Directors.