Ahh, summer. I love warm weather. I love the way the sun feels on my skin. I love sitting on the patio, reading a book, listening to birds chirping in the distance and enjoying the sweet fragrance of the honeysuckle that grows along our fence. There’s something so calming about summer.
Then there are the critters. Ugh.
In addition to the seemingly endless parade of ants, spiders, centipedes, stink bugs, bees and wasps, we have the pleasure of groundhogs and skunks.
I probably wouldn’t be as concerned about the groundhogs and skunks if it weren’t for the dogs. I have three dogs: Maggie, Rocco and Frankie. Maggie is a lab/pit mix, Rocco is a Jack Russell Terrier and Frankie is a dimwit.
A few summers ago, I was sitting in the living room watching television when Maggie and Rocco tore out of the house at breakneck speed. How did they tear out of the house, you ask? Oh, we don’t have a screen door on our slider, so we sometimes leave it open a bit so the dogs can get in and out when the weather is nice. Why don’t you have a screen door, you ask? Oh, that’s because Maggie clawed at it a few times then finally broke through it when she saw a delicious squirrel.
Anyhoo…they flew out of the back door over what I assumed was a squirrel. I walked over to the door and saw something kind of…waddling…across the far end of our yard. It was dusk, so it was kind of difficult to see what was back there, but Rocco was losing his mind over it.
Me: Honey, what’s back there? Is that a goose? I think Rocco may have caught a goose! OMG, go get him! Make him stop!!
Halfway to the back of the yard, he turned around in horror.
Jack: CLOSE THE DOOR! CLOSE THE DOOR!
Jack: CLOSE THE DOOR!!! SKUNK! SKUUUUUUNK!!!!
Jack ran back to the house holding Rocco, gagging violently with his arms extended and his face turned to the side.
Oh. My. God.
You know how back in the day we’d watch Warner Bros. cartoons? Remember Pepe Le Pew’s little puff of a cloud? Yeah, that’s nothing like what really happens. Turns out skunk stink comes in the form of mucus. Lots of thick, slimy mucus. Dripping from Rocco’s face.
I was in a panic. I had heard that tomato sauce helped get rid of skunk scent, so I held Rocco by his collar (he was still fighting to get back to the skunk) and hollered from the backyard for my son to run to the basement and get tomato sauce.
He brought me a can of diced tomatoes.
Desperate to do something, I opened the can, dug into it with my hands and smeared/smashed little chunks of tomatoes into the effected areas.
It didn’t help. Shocking.
I hosed Rocco down as best I could and ran him into the kitchen. Meanwhile, Jack got on the internet, found out the real solution (heaven forbid you need it…1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1 tsp of dishwashing liquid). Of course we didn’t have enough hydrogen peroxide, so I asked Jack to run to the store for it while I continued to bathe Rocco in the kitchen sink.
Jack has a very sensitive gag reflex and does not do well with bad smells. The first time he changed a diaper, he almost vomited. He had to walk away from the baby a few times to regroup and finally put on a full-face gas mask (he was in the National Guard at the time) to complete the task. Needless to say, the skunk incident left him shaken.
Jack: Can you smell it on me? Do we smell like it? Our olfactory senses are dulled!
Me: Our what?
Jack: Our olfactory senses!!
Me: What’s that?
Jack: It’s our sense of smell!!
Me: Why didn’t you just say ‘sense of smell’? Who uses that word? I’ve never even heard that word. What are you, some kind of scientist?
Jack: FOCUS! Who cares?? CAN YOU SMELL IT ON ME?? I can’t smell it anymore, but I know we probably stink!
Me: Can you please just go to the store?
We scrubbed Rocco down about six times that night. The internet potion worked pretty effectively, but we could still pick up a hint of skunk from him whenever it rained over the next few months.
Last summer we brought Frankie home. He’s a sweet little thing. Not a drop of terrier in him, so he doesn’t feel the need to chase and/or maul animals. One sunny morning shortly after his arrival, the dogs were meandering about the yard while I was sitting in the kitchen, sipping my coffee and getting my bearings about me. Suddenly I heard an unusual bark – not the ‘I want a treat’ or the ‘I see a jogger’ or even the ‘Die, squirrel, die!’ bark – so I decided to investigate. As I approached the slider, I was horrified to see Maggie and Rocco playing tug of war with a fully grown groundhog. And by ‘tug-of-war’, I mean Maggie had him by his shoulders and Rocco had him by his legs. Did I mention that he was still alive??
Frankie was standing a few feet away, head tilted to the side, most likely wondering if this was a better option for him than the Humane Association.
I ran full speed through the shit field that is my backyard – barefoot, in my pajamas and braless (holding my breasts in place with my hands) – screaming at the top of my lungs:
NOOOOOOO!!!! MAGGIEEEEEE!!!!! ROCCOOOOO!!!!! STOP IT!!!!! STTOOOOPPP!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Total. White. Trash. I can only imagine what my neighbors must have thought.
I scooped up Frankie and ran back into the house with him. By the time I got there, the groundhog was dead and I was on the phone with Jack.
Me: You need to come home.
Me: Because Maggie and Rocco just killed a giant groundhog and you have to clean it up.
Jack: Ugh. I’ll get there as soon as I can, but I have a meeting.
Twenty minutes later, a turkey buzzard the size of a toddler landed in my yard and ate the innards out of the groundhog. It was like my very own episode of Wild Kingdom.
I can hardly wait to find out what this summer has in store for me.