Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Scent of an Elk 

Today I went on a hike and saw what looked like Billy breakdancing on the trail ahead. He had discovered something foul to roll in, which I suspect was elk shit, although it smelled more like dead cat. I screamed but he had already finished adorning himself, and he shot me a look of defiance and triumph and ran off ahead. When I caught up I saw that his shoulders and neck were now solid black, like he was wearing a perfect little shrug of elk shit, and he spent the rest of the hike insuffurably smug and full of himself, strutting around like he was prince of the forest. I had to drive home with the windows open, and even then I was retching.

It could have been worse. A few years ago I read an obituary tribute of a dog named Earl, who was quite famous around Sun Valley and had recently died of old age. In the obituary, Earl’s owner recounted a hike he, his wife and Earl took deep in the backcountry, during which they came across the putrid carcass of an elk. Once it dawned on Earl what it was, he ran to it and began furiously scratching at its stomach, which was taut and swollen with decomposition gases. Before his horrified owners could stop him, Earl had torn into the stomach, stuck his head into the belly and attempted to crawl in. Even using their combined strength, the couple could barely drag him away. They aborted the hike and drove home while Earl sulked in the back of the car. The next day his owners went to work as usual. When they returned, Earl wasn’t there to greet them. They searched the house but Earl was nowhere to be found. They noticed a foul, faintly familiar odor and traced it to their master bedroom, where in their bed, under the covers, was Earl, gnawing on the head of the elk they found on the trail the day before. This meant that Earl had scaled a 10 foot fence, traveled 15 miles into the back country, detached the elk’s head from its body, carried the head back 15 miles, scaled the fence with the elk head and dragged it up to the stairs into the bed, where it was waiting for them, like a nightmare scene from The Godfather. Earl had accomplished all of this in the time that they had been at work.
Click here for more dogs in elk stories... This poor woman actually had to drag the elk carcass on a tarp to her backyard because her two dogs refused to come out.

I had no idea that dogs loved dead elk so much. it's a little disturbing.
In Canada I was assured that the only thing to get the smell of skunk out of a dog is tomato juice, and every dog-owner has a catering-sized can of it in the garage against the eventuality.

But I was never sure if they were kidding the hick English visitor...
I'm guessing that obituary was written what, two days after the elk event?

I know if it was my dog it would have been .....
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