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Canine cologne leaves bad scent in the house

May 08, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

If I can do no other good in this world than to steer you away from the breed of dog known as the Jack Russell terrier, my life will have been a success. They are bad dogs. Very bad dogs.

I don't know who this Jack Russell chap was, but with hindsight I doubt he would have leant his own name to the breed. He might instead have called it the Al Sharpton terrier or the Bill O'Reilly terrier.

This is because Jack Russells are 17-pound dogs who imagine themselves to be 250 and capable of whipping anyone in the barroom.

Take our dog Jake Biscuit. Please.

To my knowledge, Jake has never started a fight that he's won, but he only views his defeats as encouragement and motivation for the next fray no matter how large or malodorous his opponent may be.

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Or small, for that matter. He went screaming after a cat recently intent on shredding it - until the cat took the fiendishly clever defensive move of just standing there and looking at him. Jake slammed on the brakes about 10 feet from the cat, obviously having failed to draw up the next phase of his battle plan after the charge.

It is his custom to boss everyone on the entire block around and when the cat failed to comply with his order to turn tail and run he was baffled.

If kitties were the most dangerous form of wildlife on our property, I suppose this would not be a problem.

But it was close to midnight the other evening when he demanded to go outside and give the premises one last inspection before retiring.

Ears, nose and tail all pointed to the heavens, he grandly gave the place a once-over, making sure he was the king of all he surveyed.

And that's when he first saw the skunk.

It was a big one, not that it would have mattered to Jake one way or the other. His feet spun madly in the air before he ever started to move, much like the Road Runner in the old cartoons.

Never mind that he had failed to achieve success in confrontations against any dog, cat, coon, groundhog, mole, rat, vole or opossum. This time it would be different. And he was right about that. It was different, though not in any positive way.

He's a fast dog, and he crossed the lot in three jumps exactly, barking, braying, howling, shrieking and otherwise announcing his arrival in ways that gave his enemy plenty of time to prepare.

Being the black of night, there was no seeing what happened, although a couple of remaining senses filled in the gaps. In a second, Jake's throatal cacophony ceased and the neighborhood grew deathly quite.

Then a fragrance gathered out over the yard. It started out low and then started to grow. Neighbors began slamming their windows shut.

Then the baffled dog returned from the sortie, pawing at his eyes and, in a word, reeking.

Naturally, he did not blame himself. He was only forced to retreat because his enemy possessed a poison gas, a weapon of mass destruction not sanctioned under the Geneva convention.

If anything, he blamed us for not having "inspectors on the ground," i.e., we weren't letting him out often enough.

Fortunately for the dog, I was asleep during the affair. I am certain that had I not been, our household would have awoken in the morning with one dog-dish too many.

Multiple baths have made no difference, and the scent is now all through the house. Our roommate tried burning one of those exotic, Far-Eastern incenses and I guess it's supposed to be a pleasing smell, but all things considered I sort of prefer skunk.

We've been told tomato juice works, but the thought of a tomato-dog-skunk brew is equally unappealing.

The only one happy over the whole affair is Jake, who is thrilled because he no longer smells like himself. This is very important to a dog for some reason, and he's re-marking the entire neighborhood, sort of like a "Guess who?" calling card to other dogs.

The experience has left me feeling dismally like the mailman in Marmaduke, who once pointed the animal out to his substitute and said "He doesn't bite, but oohhh brother..."




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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