Water Barrels and Raccoons

Brian and I got up at five this morning, on purpose. Part of our commitment to being healthy is walking, and it’s much cooler at five a.m. than five p.m. We can take the dogs, and grit our teeth through their zigging and zagging the first mile.

Upon returning home, we did not even get the harness off June before she and Oscar were on the deck growling. Next to the deck in the corner of our yard is a rain barrel, there from previous owners, and on the rain barrel was a gangly baby raccoon, making a lot of noise.

When I say gangly and baby, I really mean the equivalent of a middle schooler–all arms and legs, little body, big head. (Sorry, middle schoolers I know.) I’m going to call this one Judd Nelson, for the sake of clarity.

Judd Nelson was not just reacting to the dogs–Oscar and June are really good at protecting us from possums, raccoons and joggers. None have entered our house since we got them. They haven’t ever attacked anyone, they aren’t vicious–they just bark. A lot. Judd was worried about something, and Brian figured it out first.

“There’s one in the barrel.”

So I grabbed a broom; Judd scuttled over the fence to be with his momma. We got a stick, put it across the opening, and sure enough, here comes a soaking wet, terrified adolescent raccoon (all arms and legs) who gets to the top and sees Brian and I, and he just freezes.

(I’d put the dogs inside by this point; they watched all this from the dining room.)

We set up planks to get him either off the barrel into the yard or onto the deck. I at one point grab gloves, but practice better judgment and do not try to grab a scared, baby raccoon and contract scared, baby rabies. (Brabies?) He eventually, after we retreat, got onto the deck, into the yard, and then up a tree. Then down, then over the fence, then up our neighbor’s tree.

We hope he found his momma; I thoroughly searched the yard before letting out the dogs. (Copperfield, our wonderful, handsome, kind of dumb and super chill tabby cat, just emerged from the bushes–how long was he in there?) I believe all will be well, that the world can be both hostile and beautiful to a baby raccoon.

Imagine what would happen if I took this kind of care with every human I met.

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