The skunk makes us miss the days of the gopher

My dear wife Karen let out Ellie B in the backyard for a few minutes just when the sun was setting Monday night.

I heard the bark, the frantic one, the I’ve-got-an-animal-bothering-me pitch. I heard Karen calling my name with an equal amount of panic.

I smelled the hint of trouble as I saw my wife waving the broomstick and the dog stalking the butterfly garden fence and the black-and-white flash inside, among the plants.

Skunk, not gopher. It liked that spot under the shed and the butterfly garden, too, vacated after we’d trapped the other furry and carted it off to other places. Pepe was pretty patient, dishing a small spray to the dog, hitting her in the face and front end.

Our weapons to fight the stink and then the skunk.

Our weapons to fight the stink and then the skunk.

Down the steps and to the garden fence, I hooked the dog’s collar and dragged her up to the screened porch. Karen brought out the Nature’s Miracle and hydrogen peroxide, and we poured them onto rags and took our time rubbing Ellie B where she’d been skunked. We spend a half-hour, 45 minutes, longer, patiently working the smell out of our dog’s fur.

Mostly, it worked.

She smelled some, but we had to let her in the house.

Then we read up on how to rid yourself of an urban skunk.

Our first night of Plan Skunk Be Gone.

Our first night of Plan Skunk Be Gone.

On the way home from work Tuesday night, I stopped at the Valu Home Center and bought a box of moth balls and a Halogen Light.

I spread the camphor underneath the shed, and we focused the beam of the work light on the shed and the butterfly garden. Skunks are nocturnal. The online literature says keep the beam on in the yard all night, four days in a row. It says spread the moth balls where the skunks like to hang out. Check. Check.

It also says they don’t like urine. I think maybe …

We can’t let Ellie B out in the backyard by herself until we know that skunk is gone, gone, gone. Our previous beloved rescue mutt, Lissa, was skunked in this very backyard twice. We know the skunks love to hang under that shed. I’ve got to figure a way to block those couple inches from ground to shed. Solid blocks from Lowes on Saturday, maybe, laid down after operation Skunk Be Gone is successful.

Our good neighbor Lorraine suggests we could put the same humane trap that caught the gopher out, find out the proper bait, and drape a cover over top to keep the skunk calm to drive it away.

I do not trust that strategy.

We will win and recapture the yard nevertheless. Again.

Has a pet of yours ever tangled with a skunk? How would describe the skunk smell? Would you put a skunk in a trap in your car and trust it not to spray?

47 thoughts on “The skunk makes us miss the days of the gopher

  1. Poor Ellie B!!! 😦 No, I would never trap the skunk then drive it in my car. Of course, last year, I drove 2 300-lb. pigs in my car to our “chicks and bunnies” photo session and pig poop smells far (!!!) worse than skunk perfume, so maybe I would. πŸ™‚ I’d definitely invest in the blocks at Lowes to block up the space, though. Yikes! πŸ™‚

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  2. When we lived in Oswego County, two of our dogs had a run in with a skunk. One, Rusty, got a tomato juice bath to remove the smell. I don’t know how successful that was. Every new rain seemed to bring out hidden odors we’d have been happier to have forgotten.

    For our German Shepard, General, I was in our detached garage and saw General race toward a bush. Then I saw what looked like a cloud of smoke that soon carried a foul smell. General was incensed by that scent and tossed that critter up into the air several times. Needless to say, Mr. Skunk wound up going over the rainbow bridge – descented by now.

    Years later, when I lived in Syracuse, I had a pet skunk – descented. He became great friends with our cat but I was not home enough to socialize him/her better. So we gave her to the zoo and were told the skunk would have a happy home.

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    • I am amazed by these pet skunk stories that are coming out on this post, Judy. Descenting a skunk. I had never heard of that until now. Interesting concept. Not for me, I don’t imagine at this point of my life. I’m sure the zoo did give your pet skunk a happy home.

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  3. Skunks are something else! I am sure that God was showing us a sense of humor with them! I would miss the possum, too! We had a skunk that was so adorable come onto my ex-boyfriend’s porch, would eat his cat’s food that he set out. I wish they could not be so smelly!

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  4. Hi Mark, me again! Just as an aside, apparently skunks can be “de-skunked” by a vet and they make excellent pets once that is done. My Dad had a funny story of the time he was working as a sales manager for a commercial bakery in Moncton, N.B.He dropped by the local animal park (Magnetic Hill) to see the manager about getting their summer hotdog and hamburg bun business at their cafeteria. The manager sat my Dad in his office and said he would be right back. While Dad was sitting there a skunk wandered into the room. Dad said he was pertrified that he would get sprayed so he sat frozen in the chair as the skunk wandered around the room, then jumped up on the desk and curled up in the mail “In” tray and went to sleep. Ha! Dad was still sitting frozen five minutes later when the manager came back, picked up the sleeping skunk from the mail tray and set her on the floor.The skunk grumbled a bit then wandered out of the room. My Dad expressed his surprise and the manager laughed and said the skunk had had its scent glands removed and was the office mascot. He told Dad that they were excellent pets but it was rare that anyone would spend the money for the operation to remove the smell. The skunk had been brought in hurt when it was a baby and while the staff vet was fixing her up, he had to remove her damaged scent glands. Then, of course, she was unable to defend herslef in the wild, so they made her the office mascot.

    So there is that Mark, you could have your striped friend fixed an keep her. Ha! πŸ˜€

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  5. Oh, poor Ellie, and poor you and Karen for having to erase the smell. You could essentially turn this into a movie of some sort. A good comedy aside the consequence of the skunk punk. Hope all is well.

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  6. Mine killed a skunk back in the Spring and it’s last act before meeting the rainbow bridge was to spray her good. It served her right, but I can still smell it when she is wet. I found a concoction online that worked pretty well. I think it would be safe to trap and transport it.

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  7. Ugh. I like the “maybe …” idea. Skunks are the absolute worst. We had a flying nocturnal visitor a few nights ago — a bat. I’ll take that any day (or night) over a skunk.

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  8. Mark, you and Karen have created such an appealing outdoor space that all of nature wants in! And to answer your questions. No. Gross. No. πŸ™‚

    I thought tomato juice was the only way to get the smell off your pet…

    Diana xo

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  9. oh, this is so funny. sorry. well, next it will be, ‘the skunk wasn’t so bad when the bobcat came to call…’. and no, i would not put a skunk in my car, trap or not. i’ve never had a skunk spray one of my pets, and i feel fortunate. also sorry in advance because i cannot stop thinking of bill murray again…..

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  10. OH NO!!! I can so relate to this. One morning I opened the back door only to have Max run past me at lightning speed with the most godawful smell attached. He proceeded to run to my rugs and drag his head all along them. Lovely. When I finally caught him and realized what had happened Operation Stench-be-gone started. Unsuccessful on all fronts. Tomato juice? Nope. Hydrogen Peroxide concoctions and a trip to the groomer? A bit better. Seriously, Mark, no exaggeration, he had essence of skunk for a month. I live in fear of another episode.

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  11. Good morning Mark. Yes we had a white cat – Valerie – who got sprayed by a skunk. The vet told us to bathe her in Tomato Juice , so I picked up 8 – 48 ounce tins, emptied them into a bucket, put the bucket in the shower and started.washing the cat. Valerie objected vociferously but I managed and then turned on the shower and rinsed her off. I dried her with a big fluffy towel and set her free. It worked amazing Mark, there wasn’t even a hint of skunk left. However, there was an odd side effect – it dyed Valerie pink. She apparently decided to get even by embarrassing us and consequently spent every morning for a month sitting on the front step and gaining the sympathy of the neighbors as they walked by. She did fade back to white after about a month. Where we lived the animals could pass from yard to yard under the back fences, so there was no hope of keeping the skunk out but Valerie never got sprayed again..

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    • I think you were lucky to get the stink out with one Tomato Juice bath, Paul. I think after that you should have given pink cat Valerie a middle name. Campbell’s.

      I’m glad you never encountered Skunk II.

      Knock on wood for us and Ellie B as the light beams blankets our bacikyard as I write to you now, my friend.

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  12. Mark,
    Skunks are diggers so you’ll need to go down 4-5 inches (I used chicken wire) to really deter them. You could also try last years Mets roster spread around the shed…that will frustrate them to leave…

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  13. My old pal Essi ( http://tinyurl.com/ln8v45e ) has been skunked at least half a dozen times and is utterly disinclined to stop. She seems to like it–when she’s inside and a skunk is near she has a very distinct display of agitation. Excited agitation. At 12 years old, I wish she knew better. My tonic has always been a tomato juice scrub followed by mint oil–acid to counter the base of skunk spray. I’m interested in the Nature’s Miracle, however, and will seek some of it out because, like the Cylons say, “All this has happened before, all this will happen again.”

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    • The Nature’s Miracle takes all that homemade chemistry and puts it in a clear liquid. We think it works pretty good, Chuck.

      And, yes, Ellie B’s fur raises on her back, in the house, when there’s a gopher or skunk in the yard.

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  14. I am very glad that I live in a no-skunk island. I hope you get rid of this nuisance. Foxes are bad enough so you have my sympathy.

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