Saturday, January 16, 2010

the raccoon story

Someone posted a story on Facebook about a raccoon in their yard and it reminded me of a story that happened at our house a few years ago. It was a story I didn't want to forget, so I wrote it down. I've posted it here for you.

"Well, you damn well took your time calling me back!" This was the greeting I received from my daughter, Sarah. I saw that I had missed her call on my cell phone and called her without listening to the voice mail she had left. Her tone and her choice of words shocks me and I’m thinking, "excuse me? Do you know who you are talking to?"
She continues, yelling, "I've called your work, your cell, your pager, and your friends trying to track you down!" Okay, this must be something big, because she NEVER talks like this. "There was a raccoon in our yard; I think it bit Maggie. It was tangled in the wires behind the pool pump. Dave [her brother] and I got it untangled and it ran into the front yard." I panicked and matched her volume, yelling back "Do you have any idea how dangerous a raccoon can be! And it might carry rabies! Stay away from it!" She said she had already called the vet and he thought Maggie would be okay. Still, I worried that they had gotten so close to this potentially dangerous animal. So I reinforced the "stay away."
An hour or so later my husband calls my cell phone, "Why is there a raccoon on our porch?" For some reason this struck me as a particularly silly question, so I was tempted to reply with a silly answer like "Because I put it on a sit/stay when I left!" or, “it was on sale at Wal-Mart.” But I didn't, I just told him the story that I had heard earlier, and that I didn't know it was on our porch. I gave him the same advice I gave the kids- stay away. He said, "It growls at me when I walk past it… what should I do?" I said, "Keep your fingers away from its mouth." He said "do you think I'm stupid?" I refrained from answering that one, but I did form a few replies in my head.
I returned to my duties of the day and went to Sam's Club to buy supplies for our upcoming party. A few hours had passed, and I had forgotten all about the raccoon. I was in the liquor section and called home to have Sarah check our supplies. She is giving me the inventory when she stops mid-sentence and begins to scream and sob. Between the screams, I hear, "He's dead. Oh Mama, he's dead!... Oh no. Mama, Mama, get here quick, he's dead!" Between her screams I yell back, "Sarah, calm down” “Who's dead?" "What's wrong?" "Where is your dad?" “TALK TO ME!” But the only reply I hear is "Oh no, it's terrible, he's dead (sob, sob, scream)" I'm thinking, Daddy's dead? One of the dogs? What has happened? "SARAH, WHERE IS YOUR DAD!!?????" More sobbing "I don't know. Mama please hurry" Okay, Dad's not dead, he's just missing. Someone else is dead. “oh, no, oh NO!!” "Sarah, GO GET DARYN!" (He's our neighbor, and can be counted on to help out- like just last week when she let a scary stranger in the house to "check the gas meter" and then realized her mistake. Daryn was there in an instant to keep an eye on the guy.) Anyway, I keep trying to calm her and then I hear Daryn's voice saying "What's wrong?" Okay, good. Maybe he can calm her down and she can start to talk to me. Click. She hung up on me. But that's okay, I'm in the liquor aisle. I wonder how much trouble I'd get into for cracking open a bottle of Vodka.
It turns out that our dogs, Jake and Mopsy (one border collie, one cocker spaniel), had decided the raccoon (turns out it was a baby) was just the right size for a toy, so they played tug-of-war and catch with it's little limp body. But... it's not dead. Husband calls back, turns out he was in the backyard and could not hear the screaming. I find this really difficult to believe, since people three aisles away in Sam's heard it through my phone. He and Daryn decide to put it out of its misery and he picks up a 2x4, Daryn has a shovel. Dave and Sarah immediately stand guard- no one is going to kill this baby on their watch. Sarah's tears dry instantly and she puts on her best warrior face. "Put down the club, and step away from the baby." Greg relays all of this in my next phone call. "Now what do I do?" he says. I tell him to call animal rescue. Click. The Crown Royal looks appealing.
Animal rescue says they will wait until he arrives, but he's got to get the little guy into something secure to bring him out. They warn him against a cardboard box. Fortunately, the raccoon goes willingly into a big plastic bucket which Greg covers with a grate. He takes off for the animal rescue, a 35 minute drive. About an hour and a half later, he pulls into our drive with the bucket, from which you can hear growls and hissing. I question him.. "What did you do?" He said, "The rescue people said it is just a baby, and it isn't hurt, only frightened. We are supposed to put it back where we found it, and the mother will come back for it tonight!" I'm thinking, go ahead, ask me that "do you think I'm stupid" question again, because this time, I've got an answer ready. I'll go along with the advice, but… do we put it back in the last place we found it (inside Jake's mouth) or the previous place (tangled in the pool wires)? Instead, we place the bucket on its side, in the front yard with a pan of water and a bowl of dog food (what do raccoons eat anyway?) This morning, all that remained was an empty bucket and a 1/2 eaten bowl of dog food. But in my heart, I know this isn't the end of the story. I'm going to buy some Cuervo Gold, just to be ready.

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