Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a vicious breed. Determined, strong, and relentless when on the hunt. They are bred for work. And it’s work that they love. Widely used for hunting feral pigs, mountain lion, and black bear; they have no fear. With the stamina of an endurance runner, they are quite the successful hunter. An energetic breed, they have been known to jump as high as ten feet (I’ve seen my dog regularly jump a 12-ft high snow bank in a single bound). A highly trainable dog, they will our smart their prey and their owner.
Did I mention they are stupid?
This past week, Alby got skunked. Three times in the space of…oh, five seconds. And I was there to witness the horrible sight of MY STUPID DOG repeatedly hounding a poor animal that was simply making its morning rounds.
A morning like any other, I wake at 5:30am to take the dog for a walk before work. I dress, grab the gate key and head out the door with bleary eyes and a yawn that could catch a moth or two. We head along the edge of the vineyard, turn down the central farm road and head over to the gate. I unlock it, and open it wide.
Crossing the road, I head over into another vineyard that backs up against public land. Acres of grassland and coastal scrub that eventually leads down to a creek, the open spaces ensure that Alby will get a work out. Plus, it’s just a nice walk. No houses, no roads. Perfect.
We make it up a swale, me thinking of a scene I need to edit, Alby running in and out of blackberry bushes gathering ticks that I’ll have to pick off him when we get back, when we round a corner and head down a path that skirts a field of dense shrubbery (I don’t know the plants names down here yet, so you’ll just have to deal with shrubbery).
That’s when I see it.
It’s dark. 5:30 in the morning dark, but I see it. In the waist-high grass, a black mound with two pale stripes undulates down the path. Right. Towards. Us.
It could only be one thing.
For a split second, a smile tugs at my lips and I think “cute” just as Alby silently attacks.
His mouth wraps around the skunk’s head as the creature’s tail shoots up and an overwhelming stench fills the air. Alby jumps back, shaking his head and my eyes sting. Rubbing them, I move away from the snarling beasts, yelling at my dog to DROP IT.
It’s usually our fail-safe command. He knows, he damn well knows, what that means. It means, whatever vile thing is in your mouth, spit it out.
He attacks again.
The poor animal, hunkered down in the grass, refuses to budge as Alby comes in for more. It skunks Alby again.
I’m running away by this point, but glance over my shoulder to see Alby’s dim outline stagger away. He drops onto his back and tries to rub the offending fluid off of his head, gets back up, sneezes and heads in for another round.
The skunk realizes this dog is not giving up, and runs off the path and out into the grasslands he came from. But not before spraying another shot into Alby’s face that is right behind its ass.
I’m close to vomiting by this point, the stench is so bad. I don’t care what happens to my dog or the skunk. I leave them to it. But, Alby, true to his nature, comes after me.
You see, he’s a hunting dog. And good hunting dogs hunt for their owner.
Every time my stupid dog trees a bear, bobcat or ‘coon, he’s doing it for me. Baying at the base of a tree, he constantly looks back at me, waiting for my approval.
Poor dog. He’s owned by a vegan. When my dog annoys wildlife, all he gets is negative attention. And that gunshot he’s waiting for? Never comes.
Still. He’s hunting for me.
After harassing and, most likely, maiming the poor creature, he bounces over to me, thrilled by the day’s find. Despite that he probably can’t see or smell too well after that three-punch skunking, he is happy. He’s done his job.
Ah, if only that was the end of the story.
Gagging the entire way back to our little cottage, I tie Alby, poor stupid dog, to the outside spigot and go inside to tell my husband just what transpired. After concocting a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dishwashing detergent; we wash him from head to toe.
He reeked. I washed him again. Twice. He still smelled enough to induce gagging.
By then, it was getting close to time for me to ride into work, so I did. My husband had to work too, so Alby was left alone in the house, wet and smelling of skunk. At lunch time, I raced back to air out of the house and drenched him in Nature’s Miracle (if you live in skunk country and have as stupid of a dog as I do, I suggest having several gallons of this stuff stored in the house – I wish I had). Then off to work again for the afternoon. By the time I got home in the evening, Alby still stank, but I didn’t have the bile rising to my mouth. Another wash that evening and I thought, surely, that’ll get it.
Several days later…he still smells like skunk.