Posts Tagged With: Jordanian Dog


Skunk-smell-DTAs you may recall…


A year ago, Gwenie arrived from Amman, Jordan, saved from certain death by my dear friend Captain Cassie Wyllie, whom I’d met in Afghanistan during an air-ground engagement in the Hindu Kush. Gwenie’s arrival in our little Oregon town turned the household into utter chaos, and it has yet to settle down as Gwen blazes a trail through life that is one part raging curiosity, one part stark terror at everything, and three parts hurricane-force destruction.

I love this dog.11218233_10206445599236191_6241923071895765755_o

So, there we were, out in the ‘hood for a midnight walk not too long ago. I had just purchased a new leash for Gwenie which is a little longer and more robust than the ones we’d been using. As we stopped for a restroom break on my lawn, a dark shadow flitted across my neighbor’s driveway. Gwenie saw it first and bolted straight for it without any warning. Seriously, she went from full squat to Carl Lewis on fire in an eyeblink. She moved so fast and with such surprising power that she tore the leash right off my wrist before I could even react.


Last photo from that fateful walk….

I charged after her, but had only take  two steps when she collided with the dark shape and seized it in her mouth. Appalled, I shouted at her, thinking she’d attacked one of the local cats. I reached her as she was about to shake the poor creature back and forth. Before she could, I grabbed her collar and pulled her upward. She dropped the critter right on my foot.

I looked down. NOT a cat.  No not a cat indeed.skunk

For a fleeting instant, I thought she’d caught our black-and-white Gaulic stink badger (Mizette the papillon, which is a breed of dog I adore but am not convinced it is truly canine. More like the missing link between cats and dogs, with a strange stray gene set from Mephitis mephitis). That fear lasted only a second, though, as my eyes registered what was sitting atop my favorite pair of topsiders. Yep. A severely annoyed skunk.


North American Gaulic Stink Badger (easily misidentified with skunk).

Now, some may argue that Gwenie’s nibbling on the skunk made the poor creature feel unsafe. It was perhaps a microaggression; I will concede the point. However, I would also like to point out that this particular skunk has been a carpet bagger for months now, living under my house and nocturnally raiding the cat’s food for goodies. A few months back, I was out late and coming home when I encountered this little Oreo devil standing on my porch. It saw me, puffed up its tail and hissed. Yes, the thing actually hissed at me. Ingrate.


In the days before the Skunkpocaylpse, Gwen met her first goat. Here I am trying to keep her from freaking out when the goat walked up to her.

So there this skunk was, sitting atop my boat shoe looking terrified, annoyed and indignant.  I never saw it raise its tail. I never saw a stream of skunkstench. There was just a moment when I swear I was engulfed by greenish-yellow mist and the most repellent, noxious and nauseating smell ever to reach my nose assailed me. That’s saying something too, dear readers. I’ve been to New Orleans.

What followed seems to have happened in slow motion. The skunk waddled off to go hide under the house. Gwenie chased after it, but lost interest as I screamed at her while trailing in her wake. When I finally regained positive control over my Jordanian refugee, the skunk had disappeared under the house, leaving the entire neighborhood smelling like a cross between a sewage lagoon and a tire fire.

Gwenie looked pretty shell-shocked. I was trying not to barf. Together, we trudged to the front porch and I knocked on the door, not wanting to go inside in our current state.


In the pre-skunkpocalypse days, we were free to roam among our fellow humans, unfettered by stink badger stench. Here my daughter Renee and Gwenie pick out a a future rotting porch decoration during our refugee’s first ever trip to the local Halloween corn maze and pumpkin patch.

When the fam came to the door, our stench assailed them. Undeterred, Renee and Jenn swung into crisis mode. Jenn went to whip up anti-skunk potion #9: dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide–while Renee took the Jordanian Pup straight upstairs and dumped her into the tub.

Despite our best efforts, the entire house filled with skunk stench. It lingered for days, got into everyone’s clothes and wrecked the upstairs bathroom and dog-washing tub for human use. Vinegar and lots of disinfectant had only limited success. Meanwhile, in the ‘hood, the skunk’s WMD detonation filled the block with the wretched reek for two days even though it rained the entire time.

Meanwhile, the skunk has not been seen since the incident, which leads us to believe it is under the house, plotting revenge, possibly with the help of a domestic ISIS cell.

I sat down with Gwenie the other night to discuss the incident with her. I wanted us to both smell better before we had our little face-to-face. I told her we needed to chalk this incident up as a learning experience in her continuing education on life in America. Of course, I told her that she needed to rethink chasing after non-cat critters who are smaller than she is, lest she encounter something with even nastier defensive mechanisms, such as a porcupine or a badger or a wolverine. Her new motto: Can’t we all just get along?


Get along with all but the couch anyway. Came home to this scene not long before Skunkpocalypse night. Now, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions as to who might be responsible for this destruction, but….

Apparently, that will remain an open question. Cause even a week later, we still stink and nobody wants to be around us. 🙂

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Gwenie’s Story, Part III: Terror in the ‘Hood

IMG-20150115-WA0009So, as you may recall, we have a Jordanian puppy that came to us through the combined awesomeness of Captain Cassie Wyllie and Puppy Rescue Mission ( In her first days in America, she and I ended up marooned in the Cascade Mountains in the middle of the Willamette National Forest, about as un-Middle Eastern-like terrain as we could have selected for Gwenie’s debut in the Pacific Northwest.

Back in the valley the next morning after our mountain adventure, I figured I ought to show Gwenie the neighborhood. The leash was not something she was terribly thrilled with at first, but she soon got used to it as I walked her around the front yard. That said, the sad puppy eyes she kept flashing at me suggested I was crushing her little soul with this new torture device. Resigned and broken, she trudged around whining every few minutes to let me know she was not okay with this gig. Fortunately, after a bit, she perked up and began bouncing along beside me as we explored the yard. I bent down and pet her and said, “Not so soul-sucking after all, is it dog?”  She ignored that and did her best to still look wounded every time she caught me looking at her.

Now it was time to introduce Gwen to the neighborhood. we stepped across the front lawn, crossed the threshold of the sidewalk and out into the street. The minute we left the property, she fell behind me. I turned and looked at her. Here was my puppy, a world traveler, survivor of snow and car marooning in the mountains, staring at me with an expression of abject fear.

She got up off her haunches and tried to leap back toward the yard, bucking furiously against the leash. I tried to calm her down, but she would have none of that. So, I moved back to the lawn. The minute we made landfall at Chez Bruning, she calmed down and sat quietly beside me.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. The last warrior animal I had, Volunteers the cat, tore around the neighborhood at Mach 2, getting into everything, attacking dogs, making friends and reveling in every bit of trouble he could find. He once chased a tennis ball for blocks after Renee threw it for him down the street. I had to run after him to make sure he didn’t get gobsmacked by a commuter returning home.

Volunteers eagerly awaiting Ed's next throw of the tennis ball. This was a game that went on for months between the kids and our Katrina refugee.

Volunteers eagerly awaiting Ed’s next throw of the tennis ball. This was a game that went on for months between the kids and our Katrina refugee.

Gwenie saw everything beyond the realm of our yard as a potential threat. For two days, I worked to coax her off the lawn. I have a place of my own that is my writing refuge about a half block from the house, and I was able to convince her to go back and forth between them. But stray from that pattern, and she would flat out refuse to budge. At times, I even had to carry her between the two places.

So, I had a puppy I couldn’t take for a walk. I had no idea what to do. Clearly, my pup had suffered trauma. She’d watched two of her litter mates die in Jordan. Her mom had vanished long before that. Before Cassie found her, she was slowly starving to death in a little den, only a few weeks old. Combine that background with the car rides, plane flights, cages and disorientation over coming to America, it was no wonder she wanted to stick close to the one place familiar to her.

Each night, I took Gwen out and inched her a little at a time, out of her comfort zone. Within a few days, we could make it across the street, outside the normal path we took to get to my other place. I was excited, things were looking up.  I have plans for her–road trips back to the woods and nights on the beach in Aptos, California. But first, we needed to be able to walk around the block. Baby steps.

One evening, I put the leash on Gwen and took her out front. She padded across the lawn, nose pointed for my other place. But I stopped her and said, “Okay, darlin’, we’re going up the street tonight.”

She whined. She gave me the Please, Writer, noooo! look of pure, doggy anguish. We needed to do this. I was not swayed.

I stepped off the curb, and Gwen reluctantly followed. She bolted toward my other place, but the leash stopped her cold. Then she tried to make a break back to the house. Nope. That didn’t work. I waited patiently. It was a cold night, and our breath was fogging around us. The lamp posts nearby cast orange pools of light on the asphalt. Beyond them, the ‘hood was unusually dark. Clouds overhead blocked the starlight and the moon. Gwenie scoured the blackness, looking for threats. I stood and let her do her thing until she calmed down at last.

We started walking up the street, the opposite direction from my writing loft. Gwenie trailed behind, whining periodically. We reached the edge of our property which sits on the corner of two cul-de-sacs. I paused and let her get used to being beside in me in the street, twenty feet from her familiar lawn.

“Okay, ready?”

She didn’t really look ready. But I think I saw her muster up some courage, and I took a step. She followed. Two more and she was trotting next to me.

“Good girl!”

She jumped up and pawed my hip, so I stopped briefly to stroke her head.  She was building herself up for a new adventure, and perhaps she was starting to trust me a little. All that she had known for the last few weeks now was not going to go away. She wouldn’t be torn again from what she found safe. She would be with me, and it would be okay.

We moved forward together and I sensed confidence flowing into my little refugee.  I wanted to make it to the intersection about three blocks north of our place. If we could do that, I figured she’d be able to do anything with me.

We reached the edge of the next cul de sac over. Suddenly, Gwenie recoiled. She keened and kicked backwards, uttering sounds I’d never heard come from a canine before. Fearing she’d cut her paw on something, I spun around to check on her. Terror filled her eyes. Her mouth hung half open, and she was desperately backpeddling. What had happened? There weren’t any people out. No other animals.

“Gwenie! Gwenie! You’re fine, relax!” I kept telling her. She didn’t believe me. Something was about to get her, and I was keeping her from escaping.

I knelt down and tried to coax her over to me. She tugged hard at the leash to get away. That’s when I realized she wasn’t even looking at me. I followed her gaze. She was staring at the naked cherub statue in my neighbor’s front yard.

A faux stone statue had panicked my puppy.

I scooped her up–she weighed all of about fifteen pounds at that point–and carried her home. Enough for one night. We’d try again tomorrow.



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