Last week, I wrote about the raccoon who took up residence in a tree stump in my backyard. I came up with several theories to explain its presence there. He may have been:
- the reincarnation of Abin Sur,
- a MOVE-like squatter, or
- the victim of a Nigerian time-share scam.
The animal’s sluggishness and lack of response to having a rock tossed into its nest left me to conclude that it was dying. However, as one of my coworkers pointed out, the raccoon probably took up residence because it needed somewhere to birth its babies. It’s that time of year for them. I guess there’s some sort of symbolism in my seeing decay and death while other people see life, but maybe that’s just my zombie-fixation showing.
So on Monday evening I called the local animal hospital to find out the protocol for dealing with this guy, and that led me on the merry chase of calling the police’s non-emergency line, then the animal control facility in a nearby town, and ultimately The Wildlife Rehabilitator.
TWR, who lives in my town, confirmed the likelihood of my coworker’s prognosis on Tuesday morning: Raccquel Raccoon was likely getting ready to spawn little raccoon kids. “So, um, what do we do about that? Because I’m really not ready to start a family. I mean, I just got a dog!”
She told me that her daughter, who handles varmint-evictions, would call and check out the scene in the stump. She said, “She used to handle animal control in the town, until the other party took over after the election. They fired her after 8 years. And she’d done a great job. She was even working with the Mine People [a.k.a. the Jackson-Whites] on a spay/neuter program!”
“She was gonna spay and neuter the Jackson-Whites? That is AWESOME!”
“. . . Anyway, the fee to remove a raccoon is $175. But if she has babies, then it’s $225, because we have to house them together while they’re rehabilitated.”
“House them? Seriously? I was figuring I’d have to pay you for a burlap sack, some bricks and a length of twine.”
“Well, it’s not like raccoons are an endangered species or something. . .”
“We take our job very seriously! These animals need to be rehabilitated before we let them out in the wild.”
Great: now I was stuck envisioning this raccoon in a group session at a rehab clinic with Britney, Lindsay and Amy Winehouse. I thought about sparing Raccquel that fate by borrowing one of dad’s rifles and drilling her. Then I thought about the possibility of a ricocheting bullet catching me in the throat and killing me, and how people would laugh because I was too cheap to call in The Wildlife Rehabilitator and her daughter, The Raccoon Whisperer, to take care of things. [Note: Of course, when I told Dad about this situation, he volunteered to come over and shoot Raccquel. I still would’ve ended up getting hit by a ricochet.]
I told her to go ahead and set it up. She didn’t call back for the rest of the week, so I started thinking of what amount of Kevlar I’d need to wear to feel safe. Then I thought about calling in a stump-grinder to take care of Raccquel’s home, without telling him that the raccoon was living there. Then I thought about the premise of Bosom Buddies and feared that Raccquel would take up residence in my attic or boiler room, dressed in drag.
With enough other stuff going on at work, I was able to put off thinking too much about the situation. Friday morning, TWR called to say that she and TRW were in my neighborhood, and would check out the situation with Raccquel. I was convinced that they took a few extra days in hopes that she’d have given birth, earning themselves an extra $50. It was to no avail. They called, live from the stump, to tell me that Raccquel was there, alone, and that they’d get her out that morning.
“I forgot to mention; watch out for the dog-crap. That’s how Rufus & I discovered this whole thing, after all.”
When I got home that night, there was no sign of my tenant in the tree stump, nor any struggle and zombified animal control staff, so I figure that things went smoothly, and Raccquel was safely in rehab, learning that opening people’s trash cans is just a cry for help.
Au revoir, raton laveur!
* * *
Coda: Friday evening, I took Rufus out for his bathroom break, and noticed a policeman walking in the woods behind my neighbor’s house (and mine).
“What’s going on, officer?” I called out.
He looked up, saw me, and said, “Get your dog inside! There’s a bear somewhere down the hill!”