When my oldest was little — let me interrupt myself here to mention that my oldest turned thirty-six yesterday. Thirty-six! Can you believe it?
Anyway, about thirty-three years ago or so, one of Emily’s favorite books was about a raccoon who used to raid a family’s garbage can until they started putting food out for him. I believe they called the critter Ricky. One of the kids in this fictional family suggested putting food on the living room windowsill in the evenings so Ricky could look in the window and watch TV with the family as he ate. They joked about it being his TV dinner.
Emily didn’t know what a TV dinner was because the only kind of frozen food she was familiar with was the stuff we raised (or shot or caught on a hook) and put in the freezer. But she started calling her baby spoon her TV dinner spoon, for reasons only she knew.
Remember baby spoons? I guess mothers still use them, but nowadays the spoon’s bowl is coated with a weird rubbery protective stuff. I don’t like them because they’re not as slim and easy to slip into a tiny mouth. Neither the book nor the spoon are pertinent to this conversation, however; I’m just rambling. (And looking for photos to illustrate the post.)
The fact is, I haven’t blogged for a shamefully long time, so I thought I’d share with y’all an interesting experience we had this morning.
It’s winter! (I’m demented enough to consider that a good thing.) It’s delightfully snowy, and the low temperature was about -8 F this morning. Being a dear sweet man, Craig went out to start my car and clean it off before I planned to leave for work. (I’d have done it myself, but he’s nice like that.) He came back in just as I was putting my gloves on — but he came in the front, rather than the back door we usually use. Because when he’d gone out the back door earlier, he was accosted by a raccoon, and he thought it best if we both used the front door instead.
Yes. Accosted by Ricky. The little bandit came out from where he had been hiding in some vines against the house, and when he saw Craig, instead of running away, Ricky came toward him. Craig stopped and took a step back, and Ricky ran down the basement stairs. Very odd! As he was telling me this, we looked out the back door to see if Ricky was still there. He was.
Note: Ricky may be a female, Ricki. But for our purposes, we’ll spell the name with a “y.”
As we watched, Ricky came out from the vines, walked in a circle, and went back in. Craig tapped on the door, and the raccoon came out again and looked at us, then went down the basement stairs again, whining all the way. It didn’t seem sick or injured, but it definitely wasn’t acting like a normal raccoon.
I wish I’d taken pics of it because it was really cute. But instead, I went out the front door, got in my car, and took off, leaving Craig to deal with the situation. Because I’m nice like that.
If we’d been in Ohio, we’d have contacted the county game warden. But apparently there is
no such thing here in Maryland. Craig’s phone adventures landed him at some state office in Annapolis, and they gave him a local number to call. But when he tried, it rang and rang with no one anwering. After a half dozen fruitless attempts, he tried calling the local State Police. They said they’d send someone out.
About ten minutes later a Statie appeared on our doorstep. Craig explained the situation, then brought him out to the back porch to observe Ricky through the door. The bewildered beast was still up to his weird antics, walking around in circles, in and out of the vines, up and down the basement stairs, chattering all the while. When Craig opened the door a crack and then closed it again, Ricky came up on the back steps and looked in. The officer said he’d never seen a raccoon act like that before and suggested someone may have been feeding it. That would explain why it wasn’t afraid of people, but not why it was hanging around our house.
Craig apologized for calling the state police out for something like this. He said, “When I lived in the country, if I had a problem with an animal I could take care of it myself. But I didn’t figure I could do that here.” The officer agreed. “No, you don’t want to do that here.” He said he couldn’t put the raccoon down himself, either, because it didn’t appear to be sick or injured. Instead, he gave Craig another number to call, which was for the local Animal Control people — but their office didn’t open until 11:00, and it was only about 10:30.
By the time 11:00 came around, however, Ricky appeared to have gone. Craig didn’t see him leave, but he did see tracks going down the snowy driveway, and we haven’t seen him since. We hope he found something to eat and a warm place to hunker down, but we may never know what became of him.
People who feed wild animals aren’t doing them any favors, because it causes the animals to become dependent. If the people then go out of town or stop the feeding for other reasons, the poor critters, no longer able to fend for themselves, are left to wander in the cold crying with hunger, like Ricky was doing this morning. Depriving him of his TV dinner is like leaving the family dog with an empty bowl.
Imagine if we had a little dog. If we’d let Fido out this morning, Ricky would have made short work of him. What if the raccoon had approached a little kid who didn’t know better than to try to pet it? Cute as they may be, wild animals are just that — wild animals. We shouldn’t treat them like part-time pets.
I really should use my camera more often so I can illustrate posts with photos that have something to do with the subject. I also should update my blog more often. I frequently think, “I’ll blog about that” but then I don’t do it. Maybe someday I’ll quit clowning around and get serious about it.