Last night Oscar wasn't so lucky. He evidently found a lurker in our backyard when I let him out at 11pm.
By the time he came in it was clear there was something amiss. Quite clear.
If it had been a summer night, at that late hour I might have considered putting him in the garage for the night. But as it was well below freezing, there was nothing to do but bring him inside. I did some surface cleaning with warm water and dishwashing liquid, which helped reduce the smell a bit, then told him goodnight and went upstairs to bed. Because he's afraid of stairs, the only way Oscar gets upstairs is if I carry him. Even though he slept on his living room bed last night, I was still aware of him, as the forced air heat wafted top notes of skunk through the ducts.
Today I had to be in the city for the day, and the groomer doesn't open before I had to catch a train (and was unlikely to be able to take him anyway with her busy schedule) and would be closed when I got home. So I went to a large chain pet store this evening to see what kind of product I should buy to bathe Oscar. I got some great advice from one of the groomers. "Don't tell anyone you got this from me, but use baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dishwashing liquid." And she recommended a rubber-tipped scrubber to help work the solution into his fur.
I had seen a recipe along those lines on the Internet but wouldn't have tried it if she hadn't suggested it: a ratio of a quart of hydrogen peroxide, a cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (I used about a quarter of these measurements). Mix and apply, being very careful around the eyes; leave on for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse and wash with a pet friendly shampoo.
Lying between my feet while the hair dryer is employed
Oscar was pretty well behaved during the slow process. After a long session with the hair dryer, he's looking almost himself again. And smelling much, much better.