SKUNKS, Part I: Anosmia

Recently I learned that not all people can smell the odor that skunks emit as a self-defense mechanism.  As the statement below documents – these are indeed some lucky souls.

“One in ten people reportedly can’t smell hydrogen cyanide (a poisonous gas), while 12% of participants in one study failed to detect musky odors, common perfume ingredients. An estimated one in 1,000 lucky souls can’t smell butyl mercaptan, the rancid issue of skunks.”

For those who are interested, here is a link to a short article about how you people are weird:

I don’t think us dogs EVER miss an odor.  For instance, one little treat under a bucket and not only did I sniff it out, I was able to figure out how to get it – NO simple dog here!

Now you may be wondering why not smelling the odor of skunks is such a big deal and why I named this post Part 1.  Well, not only are we dogs good at sniffing out scents, we are also good at detecting motion – especially scurrying little movements – and then reacting to these moves by chasing.  Typically, this does not result in any capture of the enemy mostly because of all the fences you people build that not only thwart our pursuit but also gives the little guys a place to climb and or slip under.  Then there are all those trees that around here which I have tried climbing but for some reason haven’t been able to conquer.

Part 1 of my skunk stories was before my time so I am relating the saga not based on my own personal observations but rather what Sammy told me after Part 3 and retold to me after Part 4.

Part 1 takes us back to the days when Sammy was a little guy and was still hanging out with his twin sister Banshee.  The year was 2007 and the twins were left behind in Michigan to spend a couple weeks with our grandparents as our parents went to Montana (the state – not me :)) for a wedding.  They first returned home to Illinois before flying out later that week.  Upon arriving at our home that evening, they got a call from Grandma.  Turns out Sammy was having a terrible fit, crying, rubbing his face on the floor/couch/carpeting/whatever he could.  My Grandparents initially thought he may have gotten into something that caused some sort of allergic reaction or possibly even something posionous.  Well, he indeed got into something – the back end of a skunk.   Banshee was smart enough to go for the front end so came out relatively unblemished.   Sammy, however, got a blast of skunk stink straight in the face – by the way, if you have never been close to such a smell trust me that it is certainly something that makes your eyes tear up (re: Part 3 and 4).

Once she realized Sammy had been skunked she rushed him to the bathroom and gave him a shower and a good scrubbing.  Turns out this isn’t the best way to get the stink out as it removes the natural oils us dogs produce.  Suffice it to say that since then, all subsequent visits anywhere we are accompanied by a bottle or two of Natures Miracle Skunk Off.  Grandma was quite cross with Sammy at this point as not only did the house reek but she was now soaked from the bath.   At this point Sammy probably did the smartest thing he has done in his entire life – and his life was precariously close to ending at that moment – he put his muzzle on grandma’s shoulder, gave her that big brown eyes look of his, whimpered and gave her a kiss…instantly melting her heart.

It was shortly after this that my parents got the call.  Mom immediately jumped into action and called an emergency vet in Michigan that was less then a mile away.  To her amazement, the vet did not recognize this catastrophe as an EMERGENCY!  “But wait”, she said, “we will pay anything for you to help.”  This plea was met with a rebuffing about “real emergencies” that could come in at any point.  So there was nothing that could be done to help from Illinois.   Was it time to climb back in the car and retrieve their ill behaved children?  No.  The Grandparents were going to power through the smell and the unhappy, wet puppy so my Parents could go on their trip.

One aside here:  not only did Sammy get blasted but the skunk was finished off by the hunting prowess of Banshee.  As I said she was mostly unaffected by the event…this was besides the mess around her muzzle and chin which she was able to clean up herself – for the most part.   What she wasn’t able to clean up was the resulting mess in the backyard…which, in her opinion, was something no one should get close to ever again.  But alas, poor G-ma had to clean up this mess as well.

For the next week or so, candles burned, clothes were washed, windows were left open and visitors didn’t stay too long at Casa de Stink.   When my parents did return, they had a guest with them who was going to attend a Michigan football game.  The above story was related to said friend and he was repeatedly reminded that he was to at all costs not let on that their house stunk of skunk – which my parents learned after my Aunt went and spent a very short time at the house earlier that week.  Anyhow, on arrival, before even being formally introduced to my Grandparents the friend was knocked back by the stench and could not resist stating: “my god.  The skunk smell is overwhelming!” Great.  So much for the prep work on the ride to Michigan… and off they were to the store to by more candles/air fresheners.

(As a matter of full disclosure, I should probably also mention that the football team also stunk it up that weekend but like the house, they got better as the weeks passed – in fact the next weekend they pounded one of their arch rivals Notre Dame 38-0!).

Well that is pretty much the story of Part 1 with only one final point.  If only the friend was one of those mutants that can’t smell skunk everything would have turned out fine.   I guess that isn’t entirely true.   It would have been better if the whole lot of the residents at Casa de Stink (including the twins) were devoid of the ability to smell butyl mercaptan!

Part 2 to come soon.

Have a great weekend,


Evidence of those life saving big brown eyes and killer personality!

image image image

3 thoughts on “SKUNKS, Part I: Anosmia

  1. I would forgive you brother ANYTHING! that last picture of him…. ohmygosh.
    and YOU! you are a smart and ladylike little princess. you found the treat and left the bucket intact.
    and LOLOL! what a story!
    now if you would help me get used to the nights that my downstairs neighbor cooks hamburger helper or cabbage. or … you get the picture.


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