2002-09-10 � random racoons

random ramblings and recent racoon invasions

This morning, the banner of the National Post read: "September 10th: the Last Simple Day." Jack picked it up as we were going out the door to deposit him at the train station.

"Okay," he said. "I'm all sympathetic about 9/11, really I am. But this is going too far don't you think? What's next? September 9th: the Last Simple Day Eve. September 8th: The Day Before the Day Before The Last Simple Day?!!!"

I think he's just bitter 'cuz his birthday is September 15th and he's afraid it's going to be over shadowed yet again.

There has been some diaryland discussion about racoons in recent days � see Sooner's diary. It seems that one of Sooner' s co-workers has been providing a sumptuous buffet every night for a bevy of the bushy bandits, luring them into her backyard with sandwiches and other savory snacks. This is not a good idea for several reasons, many of them having to do with disease, but hey! it also provides me with the opportunity to share some of my specially cultivated racoon knowledge.

This past spring, when I took the Wolf in to get her vaccines updated and heartworm medication, my vet advised me to get her vaccinated against leptospiriosis, a disease carried by skunks, racoons and other woodland critters. Incidents of leptospiriosis had waned over the last decade, but last summer, there was a huge jump in the number of dogs in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) coming down with the disease due to the high number of racoons frolicking in neighborhood garbage cans.

Apparently, it's a pretty nasty disease, causing gradual organ failure and eventual death. It can be spread to humans as well, either through contact with racoon carriers and their feces directly, or through infected pets. The House of Wee, or rather its external environs, has been host to many of these masked beasties. Our trash is reknowned amongst the critters of the Lakeshore for it's garbagy goodness and despite all of Jack's clever trashcan trickery, many of our mornings have been devoted to cleaning up behind rascally rodents.

So needless to say, I took the vet's advise and got the Wolf vaccinated. Whilst she was sticking needles in my furry daughter, the vet warned me of some of the other dangers racoons can pose to dogs. Adorable though they may be, they are in fact quite vicious and fearsome critters.

She told me of a golden retriever she treated years ago who had stumbled upon a racoon near a creek. The racoon leapt on to the dog's back and tried to drown him in the creek by forcing his head under water and holding it there. It also clawed up his belly, nearly eviserating the poor woof. The golden retriever triumphed in the end, killing and burying the rampaging rodent, but he just barely escaped with his life. She told me of another dog that wasn't so lucky.

About a week after she told me this story, I woke up in the middle of the night to let the Wolf out for a pee. I flipped on the back porch light and then leaped back with a scream. Flattened against the french door was a rotund racoon, a black paw shading his eyes as he tried to peer into the house. The Wolf growled, hackles raised, and continued growling in the most loud and fearsome way at the racoon on the otherside of the glass. They were literally nose to nose with only the glass of the door between them.

I banged my fist on the door and yelled, but the racoon just blinked and continued staring at my dog. I opened the door a tiny bit and slammed it . The racoon didn't even flinch. I banged and hollered some more. Undaunted, the racoon continued to stare. The wolf started barking, deep rumbling woofs, and still the racoon stood there, flattened menacingly against the door.

Looking past the back porch, out into my back yard. I saw two more fat coons scaling the slats of the fence. Three smaller ones were running along the top rail of the fence between our yard and the neighbor's yard. And three kitten-sized coons were cowering in the shadows atop the neighbors' deck. Varmit invasion.

I turned and with the wolf on my heels, ran back upstairs to wake Jack up. By the time we got Jack out of bed and back downstairs to view the spectacle, all of the racoons including the bold bandit that had been flattened against the door, were lined up like fat, furry tin cans on the back fence. We stared at them, they stared at us, the porch light making their eyes look beady, red and demonic.

"Holy Shit," said Jack.

"grrr-rrrw-grrrGRR," said the Wolf.

"Nah-HA," said the racoons, sounding just like Nelson Munce, you know, the mocking little thug on the Simpsons. Or at least, they LOOKED like that's what they were saying.

Eventually, we got tired and went back to bed. The Wolf had to wait until morning to go out to pee.

I've been ever so cautious about letting her out for midnight tinkles ever since.

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