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DALL·E 2023-12-17 20.09.55 - Skunk spraying a dog.png

A thousand cloves of garlic

Until she moved to the United States, the only skunk that Khandi had ever seen was Pepé Le Pew, an animated character she remembered from Saturday mornings spent watching Looney Tunes as a child. From her limited knowledge, she thought skunks were cute, misunderstood critters.


            That is, until her puppy grappled with one.


            Miracle was a black-and-white Boston Terrier, nine pounds of nonstop action. Khandi had found him at the animal shelter, where he’d been brought after being rescued hobbling along the highway, blood trickling from his butchered tail. Khani loved him so much that she bought a small bungalow with a big backyard for him.


            Miracle loved chasing his ball in their small yard. He loved jumping over fences, front legs soaring like Nijinsky. Most of all, he loved chasing anything that moved quickly. He also treasured cuddling up on the sofa next to Khandi, placing his head on her leg and looking up at her in adoration while she gently stroked around his ears.


            One evening when Khandi opened the sliding back door, she yelled for Miracle to come in, but he wouldn’t respond. He was staring at the base of a ramshackle garden shed and growling. Khandi walked toward the shed, urging Miracle to come to her.


            As her eyes grew accustomed to the dusk, she could make out an animal with a small triangular head and a flat face next to the shed. The animal had a white stripe from its forehead to its nose. Despite the black and white markings that were similar to her dog’s, Khani quickly realized that she was looking at a skunk. 


            She backed away and ran into the house. Miracle continued to make low, growling sounds, and refused to budge.


            Khandi frantically peered into her refrigerator, searching for the stinkiest food she could find. She pulled out a tin of sardines, emptied the contents into a bowl, and then placed the bowl just outside the back door. This time, Miracle answered her call and ran towards her. She grabbed him by the collar and tried to pull him inside the house.


            But it was too late.  The skunk had also run towards the sardines. It charged Miracle, spraying his backside. Then it devoured the sardines.


            The smell of a thousand garlic cloves filled the air.


            Khandi ran to her computer and googled “how to remove skunk spray from your dog.” She thanked her lucky stars that she had twelve Tetra Paks of tomato juice. She cut a corner from the top of each one and poured their contents into a large pot. Then she doused Miracle in the juice.


             She washed him with pet shampoo and rinsed off the tomato juice, bundling him into a large towel. He still smelled, although now she could smell the tomato juice as well.


            Since it was nearing her bedtime, she opened the back door and threw the towel into the yard. She recoiled from the strong skunk scent. She was thankful that her shoes were inside the door. She retrieved the dog carrier and lured Miracle into it with a treat.


            His wails kept her awake. “Poor little thing, you didn’t know,” she said to Miracle. He looked up at her with his big, wide eyes.


            “Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me that I should let you out. You can sleep on the bed, but you’ll have to sleep on a towel on top of the duvet. No diving under the covers,” she told him. Sighing, she opened the crate and allowed him to climb onto the bed. She eventually fell asleep.


            In the morning, she showered, dressed, slipped on her work shoes, and took Miracle for a short walk. The odor had become less garlicky and more like sulphur. Miracle now smelled like rotten eggs, but there was no time to deal with the smell. She didn’t want to be late for a meeting with her supervisor.


            She would call the vet’s office from work and find a way to remove the odor from Miracle.


            First, though, she had to get through the meeting.


            Her supervisor was seated at her desk. She stared at Khandi and looked around as if searching for treasure. “What’s that smell,” she asked, shaking her head back and forth.


            “I don’t smell anything,” said Khandi gamely. “Perhaps it’s someone’s lunch.”


            “It sure is something.”


            They ignored the smell and continued the meeting.


            “It does smell like highly fermented cheese in here,” said Khandi.


            “I’m going to track down who brought fermented cheese in to work. They’ll hear from me,” vowed her supervisor. Khandi left the office and did everything she could to keep away from her co-workers. Instead, she walked to the printing office and picked up a carton of publications normally delivered to their workplace. She ordered coffee and treats from a local bakery, walked back to the office with them, and left them in the small kitchen area.


            At 4 p.m., she told her supervisor that she had to leave early to bring her dog to the vet.

            The subway was packed even though rush hour was just beginning. Khandi squeezed into a space near the door, hoping there would be no delays.


            “What’s that smell?” yelled a man in his twenties. “That’s disgusting!”


            He was looking straight at her.


            “I smell it, too,” she said. “I wonder what it could be.” She stared steadfastly at the subway map, hoping no one was staring at her.


            Fortunately, the training was slowing down. As soon as the doors opened, she scampered out.

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