Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 23, 2018

Kepler Meets Skunk

(5 Minute Read)

Kepler — after endless scrubbings

Woof! Woof!
This is Kepler, Master’s Jack Russell terrier, writing another article for Master’s Bible-Science Guy Blog.
I have quite a story to tell.

Kepler’s Adventure

It happened just after midnight!

I was sound asleep on the sofa when the shwoosh of the glass door sliding open awakened me. Missus was taking my buddy Henry out on a leash to do his business before putting him to bed. Henry is a Silky Terrier whom we adopted several years ago.

I leaped from the sofa and charged through the narrow aperture before Missus could stop me. I knew this was wrong — I’m supposed to sit at the open door and wait till Master or Missus says I can go out. But I smelled things outside that needed immediate attention.

I thought, “I’ll obey next time. Missus will forgive me. . . . Master might not, but he’s upstairs. Maybe he won’t find out.”

So I’m free outside without a tether racing around in the dark. I smell mallard ducks, Canada geese, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, and raccoons. I also smell the presence of a new animal.

Turned out, this new smell was from an animal about which Master had warned me. We have coyotes in our town, and they occasionally feast on small dogs. We read about it in the local paper.

Master wants Henry and me to run back to the door if we smell a coyote. Will I do that? Probably not.

Because I can beat a coyote. I know it! I have watched them in our neighborhood and woods, and I know I’m faster and quicker. My brother Finn successfully hunts huge wild boars in Poland, so I can surely take down a mere coyote before it can eat me. I will tear out its throat first. Master will be so proud and impressed. But this new smell was not from a coyote.

In our area, we have furry raccoon-sized black mammals that patrol our neighborhood starting a little after 10 pm. Most people recognize such animals by white stripes down their backs, but ours are mostly black with only a small blaze or two of white. The new smell belonged to one of them.

Master has warned me to keep my distance from these creatures, but I don’t listen very well to warnings. Master says in that way I’m like Adam who ignored the Great Creator‘s warning about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden some 6,000 years ago (Genesis 2:16-17).

The new animal was lumbering along the woods line behind our yard. I thought, “A brazen intruder! I will catch it and kill it!”

I raced silently toward the slow-moving black shape. As I was about to pounce and clamp my jaws on its furry neck, Mr. Skunk raised his tail and shot out a sticky, stringy liquid all over my chest. It had an astonishing smell.

I turned and ran. I did not want him to shoot out more sticky goop and clog up my nose and eyes. “I will get the horrid beast next time,” I thought. I ran toward Missus who was on the patio calling me; she grabbed me as I tried to scoot by to pounce on a rabbit hiding in the shrubs by the house.

Missus took me inside, and Master saw bright neon-yellow goo all over my neck, shoulder, and chest.

It was the first time Master and Missus had ever seen or smelled fresh skunk spray. It smelled completely different from the typical, recognizable skunk smell. It was a strong, acrid chemical smell. Missus thought I had gotten into chemicals in someone’s garage like fuel, solvents, paint, or something. Eventually they realized I had been skunked.

Scrubbing Kepler

Missus mixed a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Then she scrubbed me with it in the laundry room sink . . . and scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed and rinsed. I could not believe how much and how long she scrubbed me. It was like she had gone insane over scrubbing!

She explained to me that this mixture oxidizes and neutralizes the odor-producing sulfur compounds (called thiols) produced by skunks. I thought, “But the smells are interesting. Why neutralize them?”

Then Missus bubbled on, telling me far more than I cared to know about the genesis of her de-skunking treatment. She said the mixture was developed by Illinois chemist Paul Krebaum who devised a method of removing smelly thiols from his lab by chemically changing them. The key was to oxidize the thiols. Mixing hydrogen peroxide with sodium bicarbonate produces oxygen which bonds with the thiols and neutralizes them. The detergent action of the liquid soap breaks up the oils in the skunk spray, releasing them from the fur, so that they are more accessible to be oxidized.
(See Lab method deodorizes a skunk-afflicted pet, Chemical and Engineering News, October 18, 1993, p. 90.)

Kepler, Cleanest Dog in the Country

I kept emitting a pattern of loud triple-sniff-snorts. It took several scrubbings that night even to get the viscous residue off my fur. Then again the next morning I had to have additional thorough treatments with the anti-skunk potion because I was still stinky.

Missus wanted to let the foamy mixture soak, but I am a Jack Russell terrier. We JRTs do not remain in one place very long for anything, much less a chilly wet laundry sink. But I really tried to be good, because Master and Missus wanted to let it soak as long as possible.

Except for the sticky gooeyness of the spray, I did not at all mind the experience, because my Amazing Nose that the Great Creator gave me appreciates all kinds of smells. As time wore on, the original odor gradually changed into many different smells. I actually enjoyed the variety of smells.

It was funny how Master and Missus didn’t appreciate the new smells like I did. Humans are very sensitive to the sulfur compounds (thiols) in skunk spray. They can smell them at extremely low concentrations (10 parts per billion), and they don’t like them at all. But I never object to smells; I don’t have psychological associations to smells like humans do.

After I brought this new perfume into the house, Missus had to take a lot of clothes out to spread in the sun . . . everything she was wearing when she caught me and washed me, along with some clean clothes that were hanging in the laundry room when I anointed the atmosphere with evidence of my skunk-attacking bravery. I saw her wash them all, adding to each load baking soda plus X-O Odor Neutralizer (a chemical available at Walmart).

Great Horned Owl

Conversation with Henry

My buddy Henry missed the whole episode, because when I escaped, Missus put him in his crate, and he went to sleep. We talked about it the next day.

Henry: “Why do you smell so different, Kepler?”
Kepler: “I got sprayed by a skunk.”
Henry: “What is a skunk?”
Kepler: “It’s a black raccoon-sized animal that roams our yard at night. If you get too close, it will spray you with sticky yellow goo with a powerful strong smell. Humans hate the smell, and it’s very difficult to get off my fur.”
Henry: “Oh, yeah, I remember Master warning us about that. Why didn’t you listen to Master and stay far away from the skunk?”
Kepler: “The Great Creator designed me to hunt and kill varmints. I couldn’t help myself.”
Henry: “How do we get rid of the skunks? Do they have any natural predators?”
Kepler:Great horned owls are skunks’ only natural predators. Sometimes the skunks they carry off to eat are three times the weight of the owl.”
Henry: “Don’t the skunks spray the owl?”
Kepler: “Great horned owls have a very poor sense of smell, so the skunk spray doesn’t bother them. Great horned owl nests often smell strongly of skunk. One researcher found the remains of 57 different skunks in a single great horned owl nest.”
Henry: “Wow! We need to get some great horned owls in our neighborhood to eat the skunks.”
Kepler: “Be careful for what you wish, Henry. An owl that can carry off a skunk can carry off you. Even though you are fast, you can’t outrun a great horned owl. It can fly at more than 40 mph.”
Henry: “Well, I will dash inside when I hear it coming.”
Kepler: “I don’t think so, Henry. The stiff feathering the Great Creator gave owl wings enables owls to fly nearly noiselessly. You would never know the owl was coming until its talons gripped your back and you were soaring back to its nest, paws flailing. Since you have been well-fed, you would be a very tasty meal.”
Henry: “Wow, Kepler, it’s dangerous outside! We have to watch out for coyotes, skunks, owls, and no telling what else. What should we do?”
Kepler: “Well, Master would say we should obey our master and should trust the Great Creator. I need to do that more myself.”

Till next time, this is Kepler signing off. Woof! Woof!

Questions to Ponder

1. What wise warnings have you ignored in your lifetime to your detriment?
2. What Bible passages use the idea of a foul smell (stink or stench) to indicate something abhorrent?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the 32nd article in a series of blog posts on a precocious Jack Russell terrier named Kepler. Numbers 1-8 are by Kepler’s master, the BibleScienceGuy. Numbers 9-30 are by Kepler himself.
Read the prequels:
1. Why I Named Our Puppy “Kepler”
2. Kepler’s Kind
3. Kepler’s Lopsided Trade
4. Kepler’s Amazing Nose
5. Kepler’s Business Card
6. Kepler & the Psycho Squirrel
(with video)
7. Taunting Kepler
8. Adam and Puppies

The following posts are by Kepler:
9. Who Taught Kepler?
10. Kepler Gets a Buddy
(with video)
11. Kepler Chases a Squirrel (with video)
12. Kepler’s Complaint
13. Kepler’s To-Do List
14. Kepler and the Football Weekend
15. Kepler’s Favorite Store
16. Kepler at a Truck Stop
17. Kepler & Henry Catch a Squirrel
18. Kepler Finds Killdeer Eggs
19. Kepler Finds Robin Eggs
20. Kepler Lives to Tell the Tale
21. Kepler, Bears, & Raccoons
22. Kepler Mentors Henry
23. Kepler Gets a Bear
24. Kepler Finds Strange Eggs
25. Kepler Finds Duck Eggs
26. Kepler Gives Thanks
27. Kepler’s Newest Enemy
28. Kepler Loves Bulldogs
29. Kepler Ponders Snow
30. Kepler Wants to Move to Australia
31. Kepler’s Dating Profile

Read the sequel:
33. Kepler ??? coming soon . . .

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday May 23, 2018 A.D.

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?
(Job 12:7-10)

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Responses

  1. Kepler sure is a smart dog! In case he and Henry haven’t learned their lesson about skunks, you might want to try a product produced in New Zealand — Jingos. It can only be purchased through their website: http://buyjingos.com/.

    Like

  2. Poor little dog! I grew up on a farm in Texas and learned well what happens to dogs when the skunks spray. They roll and roll in the grass to help the smell go away and they vomit, over and over again. It does not take a puppy long to realize that black and white visitor is not at all like a house cat.

    Like


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