Here's an interesting dilemma in my life: my condo complex has a raccoon problem. See that photo below? It's of the world's largest raccoon. And it's in my parking lot. Even more disgusting is the fact that right after this photo was taken it slithered down into the storm drain. That's apparently where it lives.
I added those handy-dandy red arrows to make sure you could tell what blob I was talking about, seeing as it is a bit on the blurry side. That's because I took the photo at night, without the flash, through the window of my sliding glass door. That, and the fact that Riley was jumping up and down, knocking me off-balance, begging for the chance to save us from the raccoon that could eat him for a midnight snack. He's a protector, that 10 pound ball of fluff.
Mostly, the raccoon has been stalking my neighbor, Candace. On more than one occasion he/she has cornered Candace in the parking lot while she was walking her dog, Martini (who is about Riley's size but smart enough to be scared out of her wits). Candace was throwing garbage in the dumpster at one point and the animal leaped out of the dumpster at her. If there is anything that could get me to throw down my crutches and run, I'm pretty sure that would be it.
Last week, Riley and I were laying on the couch when he sat up ready to fight and I heard this annoyingly high-pitched screaming coming from outside. And there, on my patio, was the huge raccoon FREAKING OUT.
So, after calling my friend Susie to tell her about the crazy raccoon, I called Animal Control. Otherwise known as the most unhelpful people on the planet. (If someone from Animal Control is reading this, I'm sorry. But in this case it was true.) I explained to the woman that there was what I assumed to be a rabid raccoon on my patio and could they please do something about it? Ummm... yeah. Not so much.
Apparently the animal control people only have a contract with my town between the hours of 8 and 5. Even though it was before 5:00 when I made the call, catching a raccoon would require traps to be set out overnight and since they aren't contracted to come out during the night they wouldn't do it. Why, you ask? Because it would be inhumane to let the raccoon sit in a trap overnight.
Then the woman proceeds to ask me if the raccoon was female. She said it may be up around my house freaking out because it was in labor. I told her I had no idea if it was male or female. Did she think I went out to pet it and give it an exam? I mean, seriously. Then she asked me if there is a food source outside, like a dumpster. I explained to her again that I lived in a condo complex, so yes, there were dumpsters on every corner.
The woman then told me that if we could remove the dumpsters it would help the situation.
I'm just going to let you digest that comment for a second.
Ok, moving on. She then informed me that really, because our town is growing farther out we are actually encroaching on the raccoon's home... so it's really more us irritating them than them irritating us.
I realized at that point if I wasn't willing to join hands with the raccoon and sing "Kumbaya" I wasn't going to get very far with animal control. So apparently the raccoons have a permanent home in the storm drains.
All of this, believe it or not, reminded me of a story from my childhood. (You all knew it was coming eventually, didn't you?) There was a sweet little old lady that lived in the teeny-tiny town of Irvington, near where I grew up. We called her Grandma Colwell, even though we were of no relation... but we had known her forever and she babysat my dad when he was little.
Irvington, to give you perspective, had a building that housed a general store, post office, restaurant, gas station and hotel. All in the same building. Growing up we would ride our horses to see Grandma Colwell and she'd give us a nickel to buy candy at the General Store. Basically, think of the Walton's and you've got the picture.
My dad would sometimes take me with him to see Grandma Colwell and have lunch with her. She truly made the best apple pie I've ever tasted, but other than that my main staple at her house was peanut butter and jelly. Thank God. Because she would concoct dishes for dad and herself that I never really had an interest in trying. I may have been young, but I wasn't stupid.
I remember one particular afternoon when dad carried the dishes into the kitchen and came back out looking green. We sped in his truck the mile down the road to our house where he went inside and was not seen for awhile.
You've guessed by now, right? Yep... she fed him raccoon. My dad ate roadkill. And if Grandma Colwell was alive today I'm pretty sure she'd have a solution to my raccoon problem.
I'm just sayin'.