When Otis got skunked: Dangerous and odiferous wildlife in the Big City

We were lucky the first time a couple of weeks back, but not so on Saturday morning when Otis confronted a skunk…and lost.

That first encounter started a few weeks ago when I had let Otis into the backyard for her morning constitutional, then heard her uncharacteristically barking her head off.  I threw on my robe and ran back to find her about 10 feet away from an angry skunk that had already sprayed a funky mess, missing Otis entirely, and was marching back and forth, tail up, in some defensive maneuvers.  I grabbed Otis by the collar and guided her back inside.  Close call!

Two mornings ago, Jim let Otis out while I drifted back to sleep, only to be awakened seconds later by a horrific sulfuric stench.  Once again I grabbed my robe and dashed outside, only to find Otis in shock, standing still, her face and head covered with the thick, yellow and foul-smelling discharge of a skunk that had done her worst then high-tailed it.

A quick search on the Internet turned up warnings of potential permanent eye damage as well as various solutions for eliminating the smell.  The most trustworthy (outlined by several veterinarians) was hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda and liquid soap; I ran to the Safeway to buy these supplies while Jim washed Otis with regular dog shampoo.  We applied the vet-recommended solution several times and while it helped, we made further progress only after purchasing a skunk-tested solution from the local pet store.  (Note:  After much research it turns out the tomato juice antidote is a wives tale, propagated by an infamous episode of “The Partridge Family”.)  Thankfully Otis did not get any of the discharge in her eyes, or we would have spent an entire Saturday at the veterinarian office.

I am continually amazed by the amount of wildlife in San Francisco, from skunks to raccoons to coyotes, including the pack that live across the street in Glen Canyon Park.  Oh, and the seemingly endless supply of coyote food, a.k.a. gophers, one if which Otis recently caught while on an afternoon hike.  We must learn to coexist with all these urban animals, including avoiding dawn and dusk in the canyon when those coyotes have been known to consume small dogs of unaware owners.  In our case, that coexistence now means making sure the coast is clear before letting Otis out back.

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About Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA

Having owned well-trained dogs all my life, I started Better Nature Dog Training to exploit decades of experience teaching across a number of fields. I am nationally-certified through the highly-respected Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and am a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. I teach people how to effectively train their dogs by clearly demonstrating that every interaction counts when training a dog to come when called, for example, or instructing a puppy how to best get along in life. I take a scientific and holistic approach to dog training. The scientific aspect comes from understanding dog psychology from an evolutionary perspective, knowing how dogs are both similar to and distinct from their ancestors, including the grey wolf. The holistic component derives from taking into account all facets of any particular dog’s situation, including upbringing, prior training, traumatic events and—most importantly—the characteristics of his home and family life. Training a puppy or dog can be a most rewarding life experience; it can also be stressful and perplexing. One of the best services I provide is taking the guesswork out while lending a sure, guiding hand in successful dog behavior development and modification.
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One Response to When Otis got skunked: Dangerous and odiferous wildlife in the Big City

  1. Peggy says:

    Wow! What an experience. I would never have thought of skunks in the city. Glad Otis is ok. Peggy

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