Apr 10 2013

Are you learning the right lessons?

My German Shepard got skunked! Again!!

That makes four times in 6 months. The first time was the night after we saw one of our favorite clients. They live in the woods and we- wisely- advised her that skunks were out and it would be smart to have a bottle of de-skunking solution handy in case of the possible encounter. It happened to be our last bottle so when OUR dog did get sprayed, we had to make do with homemade recipes. Grrr. A month later we heard a ruckus outside, then smelled the distinct waft of skunk permeate the home. With a sigh, Deryl and I didn’t even have to look to tell what had happened. At least this time we had our special blend on hand. Then we got two emergency night calls for large dogs that got skunked and needed a mobile vet to do the dirty work of bathing and checking them for injuries. After that, we started telling everyone not to let their dogs out for that last pee break at night before banging a pot or something to clear the yard, but one night we didn’t follow our own advice and, to our horror, Athena grabbed a skunk and swung it around, getting a full blast of ode-d’skunk in her face.

For months, she still smelled despite all sorts of baths and products but finally, the unique stench faded and we could put the memories of the skunk era behind us. Or so we thought.

We went for a lovely overnight backpacking trip last weekend. We carried our tent, sleeping bag, food, utensils… even a shovel for you know what. Heavy packs, caves, steep climbs and gorgeous terrain ended in an blissful evening of campstove made pasta and fig newtons. Athena carried her own pack with her food and was having a wonderful time. Deryl and I went to bed and Athena curled up in the tent vestibule and we all went soundly asleep. Until it happened. The smell. Deryl and I snuggled deeper into our sleeping bags, praying that it was just a passing skunk and not our dear Athena, but by morning, we were blessed with a smelly German Shepard once again.

You would think she would learn! I mean, they live by their noses so isn’t it worse for them than for us? She can remember the single time I got the can opener out so why can’t she learn to stay away from black and white stripped bundles of fur??? Then it struck me. I bet she WAS learning. She was probably learning how devilsh these creatures were, and was taking great care to seek and destroy all of them in order to save the family from their terrible attacks. It made me think. We make logical conclusions all the time but how often are we ‘learning’ the wrong lesson? The skunk events have made me re-think some of my life lessons in which I came to instinctual but ultimately destructive conclusions. Every event can be interpreted in alternate ways. Your response to a skunk-like event in your past may be to attack and become protective, but possibly, we can learn other methods of dealing with the threat. Perhaps, if we learn new methods, we can avoid being skunked!

Rebecca Saria, DVM

Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, But by the Moments that take our Breath away…

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