July 20, 2010

A big stinky problem

I have said to myself lately that life is a bit like Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray movie from 1990 something in which the main character lives the same day, over and over again. So it has felt like in my world. Get up too early, entertain Sacha for a while, go to work, entertain sacha some more, bathe him, put him to bed, clean up the kitchen, bounce baby when not demanding food but cranky none the less, cuddle said baby when she allows for it. Go to bed myself. Rinse and repeat.

Okay, so there’s more to it that that of course, but as a general theme, perhaps you get my point.

The routine was bucked today, however.

The tale begins in the dead of night, with Sacha waking and waling on about something…

1:17 am, and I’m on duty. It is my task to get in there where necessary and bring him down out of the stratosphere.

99 times out of 100, sacha doesn’t just wake up. He wakes up terrified or totally pissed off about something, and the scene does not deescalate without intervention. Without intervention he resorts to smashing his forehead against the crib railing, or throws himself over the top; that sort of scene. As I say, it’s my role to go in and manage the situation. Highly not fair to make Kate do it--she already has mandatory wakeups to feed Heidi.

Anyway, Mr. Sacha repeated the wakeup process a few times in the night. Pepper in wakeups for feeding from Ms. Heidi, and one dog desperate to go outside at some ungodly hour (o’dark stupid in army terms), and we had a night of little sleep well on the go.

4:17 am: Nellie is dying to get outside, again.

I plod bleary eyed down the stairs, grumbling something under my breath, and expunge said K-9 from the abode.

I sit at the computer to keep myself awake, waiting for Nellie to come back after dealing with her “Business”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll readily get up and let the dog out any time, rather than have her vomit on the carpet or do whatever she’s gotta do. And she always asks to go out; we never wake up to surpises on the living room floor, which is a blessing I suppose.

4:23 am: I hear a sound that I haven’t heard before. It was a combination of a hissing cat-like sound and a shriek; in my head, I immediately think ‘I really hope that’s a racoon trying to claw my dog’s face off, or maybe we have zombies in the garden, because if it isn’t either, it must be a


I fly out the front door and on to the porch to look down the side of the house and into the backyard. I do so just in time enough to see Nellie come wheeling around the corner with her tail between her legs, up the steps, and past me into the house. I then see the offending pepe le pew scamper deeper into the backyard.

It’s all too late by the time the smell hit me. Nellie has already charged upstairs, burying her face into our bedroom floor and the foot of our bed in a vain attempt to shake off the smell. Shoo’d out of the room, she comes downstairs to bury her face into her beanbag chair bed. Kate is up by now; inexplicably but blissfully having managed to escape the upstairs mayhem of Nellie’s intrusion with neither child waking up.

4:30 a.m.: We corral Nellie in the kitchen, not letting her go near a carpet or any soft surface for fear she’ll rub off more oil.

4:32 a.m. or so rolls around ,and I set to work cleaning the dog with baking Soda and dish soap, the best materials available at the moment.

4:38 am.: Heidi Awaketh.

It’s down to just me and smelly Nellie and a bucket of warm soapy water. We are banished to the front porch to complete the work. Nellie wants to go back in the yard to find the skunk again. Duh? she promptly - while soaking wet, plows her face into a dirt patch at the back of the yard to, once again, get rid of the smell. now she's stinky and dirty.

5:07, Sacha Awaketh.

I am in the middle of mopping up the kitchen floor with some lovely smelling orange oil. It masks the stench to a small degree. Kate has already managed to strip the bed and the beanbag chair is now in the garbage (she’s been wanting to throw it out for years. The mop job must now be abandoned to attend to (screaming) Sacha.

fast forward a few hours to 7:23 a.m.:

Relative calm has returned. Nellie still reeks. She, Sacha and I are in the backyard. Nellie is fixating on the stairs down from the back porch. Sacha is off in the corner of the yard, remaining motionless and not letting me come near him as he fills his diaper in secret.

Nellie creeps toward the stairs, and then I hear a ‘pfffft’ and the dog runs away again.

Pepe is holed up under the porch, and is sending off stinky warning shots at anything that comes too close. The air becomes acrid and pungent once again. I sound the alarm to Kate.

7:25 a.m. Sacha is still at a safe distance, still working on disposing of yesterday’s meals.

I throw a few rocks under the stairs, just to make sure we’re focussing on the right area. More ‘pffft’ and more stench.

7:35: I knock on the basement suite window, rather than the door, which is right next to the stairs. Occupants are advised to exit through our upstairs door rather than risking exiting the suite next to the stairs and being forced to run a gauntlet.

7:45: Sacha has been coaxed out of the corner of the yard and now wants to go up the back steps to get back in the house. He’s already two steps up. Thankfully no movement from under the steps. We ask sacha to come back down in a panicky voice.

I’m normally heading for the bus to work by now, but not today.

7:46 a.m.: Negotiations fail, and I’m forced to advance on the staircase and whisk Sacha to safety. He’s not happy about the decision and starts to cry about it. Heidi is crying about it, too. Nellie is being shoo’ed away from the staircase, again.

8:00 a.m.: Sacha’s Crayola crayons are used to draw an uncannily accurate portrait of the offending skunk, which is stuck to our side gate as a warning to any potential visitors. See photo:

8:15 a.m.: Sacha’s diaper has been changed, and I leave Kate with the two year old, the three month old, and a stinky dog which we’ve now barricaded on the front porch, allowing her access to neither the yard, nor the house.

8:16 a.m.: I walk away from the house, en route tot eh bus, feeling somewhat guilty that I get to escape the scene.


Pepe is resident under the porch. Exterminators will not 'off' the beasts, as it turns out, allowing only for the installation of an exit-only mechanism over their entry hole to their hideout. Meaning once the skunk has left their safehouse, they will not be able to return and they'll reestablish themselves somewhere else and make someone else miserable for a while.

In any case, the pest control folks won’t be able to make it to the house until tomorrow. SPCA offers some solutions, but their key word is ‘patience’. Dammit.

We’ll be watching our step until we get rid of Pepe, and, we have no guarantees that Nellie won’t have another encounter, particularly since she seems keen on a rematch.

As of time of publication, Kate is at home, and is still sane. The dog has been shampooed with some sort of concoction that seems to be working, with no guarantees she won't get skunked again before this creature vacates our property. Stuart is wanting to go back to Groundhog Day.