He tends to be very protective- sometimes aggressive with strangers, very keen on running off any other animals on his turf.
We were down visiting some of my lovely and talented girlfriend’s family in Indiana for the Thanksgiving holidays. We had been there for a couple of days and my massive and usually territorial dog had been worn down by lovely and talented girlfriend’s mom’s repeated offerings of ham and turkey scraps. (and cheese, and gravy, and a little bit of mashed potatoes….) Mostly he was just lying around snoring and occasionally lifting his round belly off of the floor to go out and have a wazz.
It was on one of these trips to the loo that he started snuffling around like he had scented something. He was hustling around the yard, searching for something that only he could smell. There had been a bag with some turkey parts that had been discarded temporarily by the back door (and I presume forgotten in the heated rush and crush of a large family gathering for the feast), and I figured that maybe the neighborhood cat had been after them before we came out. As the dog neared the bag I thought, “Surely the cat has moved on by now… it wouldn’t just sit there and let itself be backed into a corner.”
The next few seconds were mostly a blur. I heard something (not my dog) hiss as the dog lunged behind the air conditioner. I started over there thinking “Aw, man, he’s going to eat somebody’s cat…” and yet there were no cat-like noises. No howling or any of that nasty low-throated grinding sound that cats make when they are threatened. So, I am scrambling to see what was going on, thinking maybe there was a (really stupid) (mute) cat backed up under the air conditioner hissing at the dog and waiting for him to go away, when I see the twin jets of skunk juice flying out of the corner at my dog. (If you have seen this, it is a very unique site. A skunk can spray that foul, horrifying stuff like a super-soaker up to ten or so feet. Since a skunk has two scent glands under his tail, they come out as twin jets.) I decided to let my old dog settle this one on his own, because at that point there was nothing I could do for him.
Egad, what a horrible smell. I have driven by places in the road where skunks have met their maker beneath the wheels of some car or truck, but this was that compounded ten times. It was the odor of evil. And it was expanding to fill the yard fast. I backed up as far as I could.
My old dog, tough though he may be, has only backed down from confrontations with two animals- once he and a goose beat each other silly while I tried to wedge my way in there and stop them from killing each other. I never realized a goose could raise a welt like that on someone, and apparently, neither did my dog. We both rather ignominously backed out of that confrontation and made a pact never to speak of it again. And the only other time he has ever retreated from a fight was last night, and when he found his way away from that corner where the mustard gas spraying rodent was sequestered, he was clearly beaten. Clearly.
He was drooling and sneezing and his eyes were running and he smelled AWFUL. I made him follow me to the garage, where I locked him in. There was no way he was going back into the house smelling like that. His ride on the leftovers train had just come to a grinding, screeching halt.
I made a run to the grocery store and bought six large cans of tomato juice and a bottle of some sort of enzymatic cleaner that was supposed to help with skunk smell. Washing him was an excercise of will- he wanted no part of a cold weather hose bath in the unheated garage of the house, and I wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until he had at least three baths… (Just to be on the safe side.)
Today he doesn’t REEK like he did yesterday, but he still has a little muskiness to him.