It wasn't a deer. He'd been very interested in them when we'd first moved in, but our yard is like a deer buffet. There are so many passing through on a regular basis that Luke completely ignores them.
It was too late though for those guys. So maybe it's a...?
I dragged back on the flexi and angled myself so I could see around the corner. Backlit by the back porch light was the very clear signature hunch-backed, fuzzy-tailed outline of a skunk.
He'd finished marking and went to stand anxiously by the front door. Bless that dog. If I'd had two dogs like Luke, we all would have gotten sprayed.
- Minimize collateral damage: I would have tried to sneak Pax inside before Luke noticed. I wouldn't put it past Luke to try to rub skunk-juice all over his brother and force me to deal with two skunked dogs. No, thank you.
- Contain the victim: I would have tied Luke's flexi to the porch rail and left him outside while I went in and gathered supplies. Under no circumstances would I let him in the house - he'd be rubbing skunk oil all over everything.
- Stock up: I would grab a bucket, a roll of paper towels, minty mouthwash (optional but helpful), baking soda, peroxide, and original formula Dawn. If I didn't have peroxide, I would substitute vinegar. If I didn't have the Dawn, I might try Palmolive or Dove, but nothing off-brand or harsh. Better to skip the dish soap if there's a risk it'll cause a skin reaction.
- Further precautions: I might change my clothes -- put on something ratty I didn't care about. I'd fill the bathroom with anything I might need for the bathing process later.
- I'd go outside and blot Luke with the paper towels as best I could. Absorbing the oil into something disposable makes clean-up a lot easier.
- Start with mint: I'd soak some paper towel in mouthwash and dab it lightly wherever I thought he'd gotten sprayed. Mint neutralizes the smell, so adding a drop of mouthwash to a skunky spot helps pinpoint where those spots are. I'd keep dabbing until I couldn't find any more smelly spots.
- Prepare the deskunking recipe: I'd put a handful of baking soda in my bucket, add a squirt of Dawn, and then drizzle in just enough peroxide to make a thick paste.
- Apply it: I'd scoop some of the paste up with a paper towel and smear it all over the skunk-sprayed areas. Since Luke would probably have gotten it right in the face, I'd be using a lot of paste there. Keep in mind that peroxide is a bleaching agent (it can turn black dogs a rusty color) and most of these ingredients are relatively caustic, so don't get them in anybody's eyes.
- Be thorough: I'd let that all sit for a while, sniffing at his fur, trying to locate any more skunky spots. Skunk smell is tricky (when it's really strong, you feel it in your gut more than register it as a smell). I'd want to be thorough. But if I noticed Luke blinking or rubbing at his face at this stage, I'd assume he got skunk oil in his eye. In that case, I'd hurry up and get him to the tub.
- Make a beeline: I'd lose the flexi and grab onto Luke's collar to take him into the house, straight into the tub in the bathroom. Do not pass go, do not try to play with your brother, no you cannot have a drink right now. Right to the tub. Before I turn the water on, though, I'd do one more quick sniff check. It's important to understand that water spreads skunk oil around, allowing it to travel down the hair shaft to the skin, where it's impossible to remove.
- Check again: before you add water, make sure you've blotted and baking-powder-pasted every fine, misty droplet of that oil.
- Rinse away the paste: I'd try not to get water anywhere I didn't put deskunking paste, that way, if I missed a spot, I can still get it later. I'd start out by flushing Luke's eyes, very gently with lukewarm water. I'd do that for a good minute at least, making sure his eyes look clear and clean. He'll hate it and shake his head a lot and get me and the bathroom soaked, but it's better to annoy him than to leave skunk oil, soap, baking soda, peroxide and/or vinegar in his eyes. Any of those things can cause major irritation and possible permanent damage. Then I'd get the rest of the pasty spots.
- Repeat as necessary: After he's rinsed, I'd towel Luke off and do another sniff-check. Apply more paste as needed.
- Wrap it up: Either bathe him or put him to bed.
You might be wondering, "What about those deskunking products they sell at pet stores?" I've deskunked a lot of dogs and I've tried quite a few commercial deskunking products, but I've never found one that works better than the baking soda and peroxide recipe. Feel free to try one and let me know how it works out for you.