The Smell Off Charley


I really thought there was nothing that could ever happen to Charley that would make me want to distance myself from my wonderful four legged friend. I mean, I love my yellow lab unconditionally. It was his charging my chest that helped me locate my tumor in my chest directly leading to a discovery of breast cancer just five short years ago. It saved my life.  He was one of the centers of my life, or so I thought.

That was until two weeks ago. ….

Jim took Charley, our lovable, exuberant household pet for his nightly after-dinner walk. Mind you, this is the same dog that took third place in dog training when all the other dogs failed to show up the day of testing.  If they had bothered to, there is no doubt that he would have tested in last place. I think it is safe to say, ‘Come’ means “Walk this way” and not “Run away from me.” Also, “Stay” does not mean he is allowed to go sniff all the other dogs’ behinds freely and aimlessly.  But this is Charley’s translation. He makes up his whole language and follows it not ours or the trainers! But in spite of those mishaps, all in all, he did amazingly well on command for the test.  Oh there were a few uncalled for barks here and there, but overall, we could not have been prouder.  The other two dogs did distract him some but that is not entirely his fault.  And our trainers could not have been happier to see us leave with Charley in tow.  I guess they just don’t understand big labs that love people as much as we do. 

Jim walked Charley all the way to the end of our street up the hill where one neighbor has bushes lining the entire front yard of his property.  Charley began tugging furiously on the lead.   This was not a true cause for concern.  What dog is not anxious to smell the ground and check out what critters have been there previously.  However, when Jim noticed what he first thought was a cat, and then noticed a distinct pattern of a white stripe running up its back, he pulled on Charley’s lead quite strongly to yank him back out of the bushes.  This was to not alarm Mr. Skunk.

Fumes arose looking a lot like the cloud from Linus’s blanket.  Jim wishfully thought Charley was not nailed too bad by the spray too badly because he had pulled Charley back out of the bushes in time when the smell came but how much had hit the dog, remained to be seen, or should I say, smelled.

As he approached our house with Charley, the smell picked up in intensity. Walking in the front door, it smelled like Mr. Skunk had come along the path with him and walked right in the door making himself at home as Charley’s shadow.   Into the tub went Charley immediately to be scoured.  Jim attempted to hold his breath while bathing as the ventilation in the bathroom is not enough to compensate for the overpowering smell coming off Charley.  He felt even Charley looked queasy off his smell.  He washed Charley multiple times, losing count but doing whatever he could to overpower the horrendous smell.

Jim put a call into me at work so as to notify me that there was not a dead skunk in our garage. He said I would smell one when I pulled in that evening but the smell would actually be coming from our home.  I suppose I should have felt relieve knowing there was no dead animal on our premises but the thought of that smell in the home was not at all inviting!

 When I pulled in the driveway, for some reason, the door was not properly closed all the way and Charley slipped out.  Before I could get a hold of his leash, he was gone. He shot across the subdivision, in the darkness of night, and took off wondering around the encircling farmland.  He was met with yells of “Charley come back” and “You want some cheese?”  And naturally he did what he always does, flat out ignores the pleas to return, preferring to keep us running after him.  Except this time, it was too dark for us to follow.

We were quite worried he would get hit by a car as he is not road savvy but could not do a thing but wait and pray he didn't get hit, did not go far and would wander back home.  We heard dogs in the area making a large racket  Partially, no doubt because a dog was running around free on their property. We were sure also because of his odor! We prayed he would make it home and safe but could not do much but stay on our plan to continue trying to irrigate the smell from our house.  What a horrible night.

Within a half hour, there was a sound at the garage door. I, as of yet, had not been in close proximity of Charley since his encounter with the skunk and somehow knew it was him. Now was my first hello.   I went to the door to let him in, opened it and about fell backward.  Phew, was the smell disgusting!   It was real easy to be upset with him for running away and almost upset he had returned. I suggested to him he go lay down in the farthest corner of the house, far away from me!  And surprisingly, he understood and listened, after downing a water dish in his usual style, drooling half of it over the kitchen floor.

Later that night, he jumped on our bed. To make up for running away, he put his head up by me.  I about gagged.  He had gotten sprayed directly by his head since that was closer to the bushes so it was the most intense area with the smell. Hence, I preferred, if anything, odd as it sounds, his rear-end be facing me. So I did what any woman would do that finds skunk disgusting, I went upstairs to another bedroom, closed the door tightly, lit a strong smelling candle and laid down for a good night sleep! 

Since that time, we have washed Charley with peroxide, tomatoes, and a mixture of baking soda with Dawn and peroxide, mixed with doggie shampoo.  You name the combination and we have tried it. About the time we think the smell might possibly be gone, it rains in middle Tennessee. Doggone it; every time he gets wet, we are confronted with that skunk smell again. They say dogs have incredible noses and can smell smells from far away. I wonder what he thinks of the odor he emits on those days? Does it nauseate him like it does me?   It has helped alleviate my appetite on rainy days for sure! 

I know he feels unloved a lot lately but I can’t help it. I find it hard to love someone so smelly.  It is like an unkempt person with bad personal hygiene.  Only with Charley, this skunk smell is worse.  We have been burning candles like we are having seances in our house. Anyone who wants to donate to the cause, yet we will accept candle donations!   But please do not report us to the local fire department. We do keep Charley’s tail out of reach of the candles burning.

My sister read recently that a skunk smell on a dog can last up to a year.  I pray that this is not the case with Charley.  If it is, I feel certain we are going to be looking for a doggie psychologist to help Charley deal with doggie neglect feelings.  I may love him unconditionally but I will not give him TLC unconditionally if he can’t get back to just smelling like a damn dog!
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