Monday, December 03, 2007

My Life as a Monty Python Skit

This past weekend, while my parents were in Atlanta, I agreed to babysit their dog Kali. We’ve done this before; she’s good friends with our dog Luna and the girls love her. She’s an Australian Shepherd, just over a year old and full of energy. Also she pees 96 times a day. Our yard is not fenced, but the dogs know the boundaries and they don’t go into the neighbors’ yards or the street, so I just let them out the front door when they need to go and (when it’s cold) watch them from the door.

Friday night, I let them out around 11 pm and they went running off together, playing, and disappeared around the side of the house. After a minute or so, I started calling and I had to call them a few times before they both came tearing back towards into the front yard, Kali rubbing her face and body on the ground and rolling around. Then the smell hit me. It smelled like they’d unearthed a vat of toxic chemicals. My first thought was skunk, but I’ve never smelled skunk like that…it smelled like skunk, if the skunk was on fire. It was so strong I could taste it. I got the dogs in and the unholy stink filled the house. Skunk, I was sure of it then. Great. It’s 11 pm and I’m just in no position to deal with this. I threw them out on the screen porch, threw baby powder all over them (Don’t ask why; I thought maybe the powder would absorb the skunk oil) until I could figure out what to do with them. I would have left them there all night, but it was a cold night and supposed to get colder. I lit three candles and some incense, went into my bedroom and turned on a movie, trying to get the skunk taste out of my mouth. We decided we’d come up with a way to barricade the dogs in the kitchen for the night until I could go buy a truckload of tomato juice the next morning and deal with it. We knew the house would stink, but we couldn’t figure out any other option.

Half an hour into Fay Grimm, I hear a cry from the girls’ bedroom. We stop the movie and run in there. Ariela, who likes to sleep with her sister in the top bunk sometimes and chose to do so this evening, has sat up in bed, leaned over the top railing and was vomiting what seemed like gallons of vomit onto the floor. From 6 feet up in the air, she effectively repainted the entire room in vomit. I handed her a bucket (too late) and we got to work cleaning up the room to the best of our ability. We did the best we could, put down about a box of baking soda and some towels on the floor for the night, moved Dvorah into the guest room and went to barricade the kitchen.

Now it’s midnight, so I figure I’ll put the dogs out one last time before bed, hoping they’d maybe rub off a little more stink before coming into the house. Luna went out, did her thing and came in. Kali went out and when I called her in…I guess she could tell I was pretty unhappy, so she wouldn’t come into the house. Now I’m really unhappy, because it’s freezing cold outside, I’m in my nightclothes and bare feet and the damn dog won’t come in the house. Dvorah is still up now, and more dressed than me, so I made her get a coat on and she put on my shoes and went out to chase the dog around the yard, with me calling for the dog and pretending to be happy, so she won’t be too scared to come in. Finally we get the dog in (I’m furious now), barricade the two of them in the kitchen and go to bed. I’m awake every half hour, tasting skunk. I said to Stuart “My mouth hurts; I’m not really sure it’s skunk. I think we’ve been poisoned.” He laughed at me and told me to go back to sleep.

Next morning I wake up to Dvorah yelling “Daddy, Luna is throwing up!”

I think: Where do I find the next train to nowhere?

I discover online that tomato juice does not work on dogs, and find a mixture that supposedly does. I run out to buy a vat of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Come home, get Kali in the tub and discover that, not only does she really not like being in the tub, she’s terrified of running water and keeps trying to jump out of the tub, so I have to have one hand on her at all times, just to keep her there. I mix up the magic potion and begin applying it to her as she stands in the tub - tense, shaking, miserable and trying to jump out at every opportunity. The directions called for rubber gloves, but I figured I wouldn’t be able to really feel what I was doing if I was wearing gloves, so I was doing this with my bare hands. Halfway through, my hands start to burn. I ignore it, finish up, and set the timer for 10 minutes, which is how long the dog is supposed to sit with this mixture on. I’m still forcibly holding her in the tub and trying to console her (not working) and now keep her from shaking the stuff all over the bathroom. Finally the timer goes off, and now I have to rinse her off, but we’re still dealing with the terror of running water, so that makes the rinsing fun. Then once I’ve rinsed her off, I have to wash her again, this time with dog shampoo. Now my back is starting to ache from leaning over the tub at such a weird angle, holding Kali in the tub and using the other hand to lather and rinse. Finally I get her completely rinsed off and wonder, how on earth am I going to get her out of the tub and outside without her shaking all over the house? I wrap the freshly twice-cleaned dog in a towel and carry her outside. There, she shakes and shakes and shakes and then tries to dry herself on the ground. Which (of course) is muddy. I clean the mud off her the best I can, throw her on the screen porch to dry a little more, and bring Luna in so I can go through this entire process with her. Ask me if I wore gloves this time. Right. So after I carry Luna through the house in her towel (she’s a 50-pound dog) and then wipe the mud off of her and throw her on the screen porch, Ariela says to me “Mommy, look at your hands!” They’re covered in tiny red dots, all over. I wash them the best I can and put on a good hand cream and that seems to help.

Then I went out to by presents for a baby shower I was attending the next day, picked up a pizza, came home, got the kids dressed and we all went to see the Spanish Dance version of the Nutcracker (the nutcracker was a bullfighter and the rat king was a bull) and then returned my parents’ dog.

The solution seems to have mostly done the trick, although there are faint remnants of skunk still on my dog and Kali is a little worse, since she took the brunt of the hit (stupid dog) - but who cares; she's at my parents' house now. The house smells a lot better and my hands are OK. Ariela is feeling better; seems to have been just a case of the midnight vomits. The moral of the story is…there is no damn moral.

Well, according to Dvorah, the moral is this: If you see a black and white “dog” with a big fluffy tail, don’t ever stick your nose in its butt.