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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Le Pew et La Cathedrale

Every morning at 6:44, I go out of our house with our 6th graders to await the arrival of their limo ride to school (hey, the State of Kansas and USD 265 pays for it; might as well be a limo). And, yes, we walk out at 6:44; but that’s another blog post about the Herndon neurosis called, “Five Minutes Early is Fifteen Minutes Late.”

At some point during this school year, the boys convinced me that we should let our Lab mix, Maggie, come outside with us for the 5-10 minute wait. Oh, why not? It was still dark at 6:44 so I figured she could get into very little mischief. And yes, I let her come out of the house into our garage without a leash. This breaks a rule and causes me to sweat a little, but that’s another blog post about the Herndon neurosis entitled, “Rules are Made to be Followed to the Nth Degree.”

Almost every morning, Maggie bounds down the garage steps and heads for the driveway to sniff the concrete and the grass along the edge. She usually gives everything a good once over and then comes back to the garage to hang out with us till the bus comes. After it drives away, she sprints to the newspaper. She either sits down by it or runs in circles around it. No, she won’t pick it up and bring it to me. I have to walk down the drive in my pajamas and pick it up. The fact that I’m wearing my pj’s and I’m outside breaks another rule. Oh, the blog posts that will follow!

Just this week, I’d commented to the Hubster that the sun was coming up earlier these days. It was not nearly as dark as it had been even last week at 6:44 am. I was a bit concerned about letting Maggie go out with us in the sunlight for fear that she might see a cat up the street and take out after it as dogs are wont to do.

But I didn’t need to worry about cats. No, this morning, as we waited for the yellow limo, we saw something creeping through our neighbor’s yard. I thought, “Oh, no, it’s a cat!” As I was trying to get the words out of my mouth, something like, “Boys! Grab the dog before she sees that cat!,” all four of us (three humans, one canine) realized it wasn’t a cat. It was (dramatic pause). A SKUNK.
A skunk, people. In West Suburbia, Kansas. Walking through someone’s front yard at Oh Dark 30. 

As we all dove for the dog, she saw it and did what dogs do: lost her mind. She bee-lined for it and caught up with it in the middle of the street. All three humans were screaming their heads off. “Maggie! Maggie stop! No, don’t get any closer! Don’t move! Come back!” Of course, we all know that to dogs, this sounds like, “Maggie! Blah, blah, blah! We’re excited about something! Maggie! Ignore us please and chase that cat-thing!”
About this time, as the skunk was raising his/her tail in greetings and salutations, Max decided he should step in and rescue his beloved canine. I have to say I don’t know when I’ve moved faster, especially for 6:44 am. I lunged for him and caught his hoodie and screamed “Stop! Don’t get close!” Thankfully, to a boy, this sounds like “Stop! I will kill you if you move!” when said by a pajama-clad mother.

We watched in horror as Pepe Le Pew did what skunks do. Maggie took the attack in the face and immediately turned tail and ran for us. The three of us hadn’t stopped screaming since we first saw “the cat.” My screams changed from, “Maggie! No!” to “Boys! Get away from her!” I had this vision of her running up to them and rubbing her sprayed self all over their clothes.
Maggie came back to our yard and was doing the weird dog thing of running with your rear up in the air and your face sliding along in the grass. She was furiously trying to wipe the vile skunkness out of her eyes.

I grabbed for her collar, still screaming at the kids, “Stay away! Don’t let her touch you!” when I became aware of Isaac saying, “Mom! The bus!” I looked up to see the bus slowing to a stop and the four or five kids on board craning their necks to see the crazy woman in a purple coat, red reindeer pajama pants, and a pink knit hat desperately trying to hold on to a crazy black dog without touching it.
I’m imagining the following interrogation on that bus: “Dude, who was that crazy woman at your house?” “Dude, what was she doing to that dog?” “Dude, what did she have on?” “Dude, was she screaming at someone?”

To which my 13 year olds would have answered, “Dude, there was a skunk!” and “Dude, I’ve never seen that woman in my life.”*

I managed to get Maggie inside and took her directly to the shower. Unfortunately for him, the shower was currently occupied by The Hubster. I’m sure it kind of ruined the enjoyment of a nice hot shower to have your wife fling the door open and shove a very reluctant 40 pound dog in. He could hear me screaming, but was having a little trouble understanding me over the hysteria. Finally, he heard, “Skunk!” and “Maggie!” and put the rest of the story together. He’s smart like that.

Thanks be to God, the spraying wasn’t too thorough. Monsieur Le Pew wasn’t packing a full load or perhaps all the screaming led to a failure to perform. Whatever the reason, the shower seemed to take care of Maggie’s new perfume.

Our house, on the other hand, has a distinct parfume de Pew. To anyone out there who has ever given me a scented candle as a gift, we owe you our eternal thanks. It looks like a cathedral in here. A sandalwood-vanilla-citronella-wet-dog cathedral.

At 6:44 am tomorrow, the dog will stay inside.

*Update: Max called to ask if I could pick him up after school. I asked him if he was having any skunk smell issues. He said, "Yeah, my shoes and Spencer's jacket." Spencer is his seatmate on the bus. Max said, "The whole bus smells now." Somehow, I think a bus full of 11-to-13 year olds may have already had an odor issue, but I'm sure we didn't help it this morning.