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A Woman's View: On dogs, cats, and skunks
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Judi Tabler

Our dog and cat are big babies. The grey-striped feral cat, Mama, has become totally domesticated and has tasted of the richer things of life now. She wants those things all the time…basically, my undivided attention to rubbing her head and scratching her hind end. She meows, begs, yowls, and actually has 2 different languages; one is ”feed me.” It is a side-ways, scratchy, yeowl, and the other is her “I want some lovin’” language- a pleading, soft meow for attention.

She drives me nuts.

Our dog, Piper, the black female Lab, is totally obsessed with getting petted and stroked, and she repeatedly wedges her head in under my arm to force me to pet her head. She licks my hand, taps my leg with her right front paw to remind me that she is there, and then, gets as close as she can to me before I need to tell her to lay down. Piper flops to the ground and rolls over on her back to anyone, any time, for love and attention. 

We own a hot tub. I love to soak in the evening whenever I can.  However, the cat climbs up on the edge where she hopes I will notice her.  If I give her a few head rubs, she turns her back to me so I can scratch the top of her rear portion. Oh puleeeze.  I try to read. Pretty soon she is giving me love with her head, butting up to my head, and nuzzling in my hair.

Oh brother.

The dog hears this going on, comes out of her place in the garage, and joins the party, reaching up to lick my hand which is hanging over the tub. This is ridiculous.

Fred suggested I splash the cat, Mama, with a bit of water, just to get her off my head for a bit. I have tried it and it worked. 

A few nights ago, when it was turning dark, I retreated to the hot tub. It was a beautiful night. I climbed in the tub, opened my book, and began to read while the bubbles churned around me. Ah bliss. 

Suddenly, a strong skunk odor permeated the air, almost burning my nose. It was the strongest skunk smell I have ever experienced.   “Dear Lord, help. Is that skunk here on the patio, close to this tub?  Piper was nosing around the outside perimeter of the patio. I wondered if she got sprayed.  Oh dandy. 

I peeked cautiously, turning my head.  I was about ready to hold my nose and go under the water, thinking that I could maybe hide.  My vantage points from the lip of the tub being quite inadequate, I slinked down in the water. But the smell! Oh, the smell!

I reached up behind my head to see if the odor had gotten in my hair, and I smelled my hand. YES! The odor, the smell, the stuff in the air, had permeated my hair! I had not been the victim of a direct hit, but I had definitely gotten some shrapnel.  Where’s the skunk? Oh, where is it?

I clambered out of the tub, soaking wet, looking to my left and to my right, afraid of what I might see. The dog saw me, approached me, and began licking my wet leg. Go on dog! Stop. This is serious!

I scurried into the house. But first, I needed to tell Fred.

If you remember the incident where we shot the skunk in the cage and it blew to smithereens? Well, this odor was as intense. But the stink had still not wafted into the house. I found Fred.  I told him the story. There I stood. He got a strong whiff. It was ME. My hair! Oh no, somehow, I got sprayed!  I looked out the window to see if the black and white perpetrator was out there. A giant in my mind.

By then, the intense odor had filled the house.

I lit a candle. Candles work, by the way. They burn down the smell. I turned on the fan over the stove, and hoped for the best. I shampooed and scrubbed my hair three times. It worked. The smell left.

I hope to never be surprised by a skunk, a crocodile, or a rattlesnake. They are all the same to me.

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at