Let me begin by saying I think raccoons and squirrels are cute. Their infringement in our human world doesn’t bother me. They’re just trying to find something to eat, and, after all, they were here first. I admire their spirit of survival.

This morning I woke up and went to the garage. The trash can is overturned; it’s contents spread everywhere. The dog’s food container is flipped over and half-open. Kibble is scattered throughout the garage. I enter the house to find Duchess cowering under the coffee table, something she only does when she thinks she’s been bad. I report what I’ve seen to my Mom and the first thing she says is, “Raccoons!”

images-7.jpegApparently there’s a bit of an ongoing raccoon problem here. Or should I say “war.” My father’s practically rabid when he hears the news. “Damn raccoons! We’ve had to bungee cord the garbage cans, put out traps, block all the dog doors at night, and they still break in!” he rants. Poor Duchess. She had done nothing wrong, but thought she had. Probably because she’s been punished before for knocking over trash cans. She reminds me of a story my Dad tells:

When I was a baby, one day I did what babies do, and soiled my diapers. My Dad turned to my sister, a year older than me, and as a joke, points to the mess in my diapers and asked her in a serious voice, “Did you do this?” “I don’t think so,” she replied timidly.

So, sometimes we feel guilty for doing something we didn’t do. Again–poor Duchess.

Back to the raccoons. My Dad is tearing around the house as he looks for his rifle and bullets. Considering the amount of swearing, it doesn’t seem he can find them. images-8.jpegWhile I listen to the commotion, I gaze out into the backyard. It is full of birds because I just fed them the day before. Suddenly, a squirrel, its cheeks bulging, pops up and starts stuffing seeds into his mouth. “There’s a squirrel out in the yard,” I say to no one in particular, however my Dad must have heard me because the noises from his office become more frantic. My Mom opens the back door slowly, so as not to scare the squirrel. Duchess squeezes out and makes for the squirrel. My Mom runs after her, screaming and waving her hands like crazy. The dog tears around the yard looking for it, my Mom runs around in circles yelling, “Get it, Duchess! Get it, Duchess!”. Our neighbors must love us.

The squirrel is, of course, long gone before we can get anywhere near it. We enter the house to find Dad, armed and ready. He is fuming. “Why the Hell did you do that?” he yells. Man, is he angry. “Bloodlust,” I whisper to my Mom. After things settle down, I ask a few questions. It seems my Dad, an avid hunter, shoots a bunch of squirrels and raccons every year. I ask my Mom, “What does he do with the dead bodies?” “Throws them in the trash can,” she says.

I’m the one who empties the trash here. I am not looking forward to the day I open the lid to find a pair of glazed, beady eyes staring lifelessly at me.

Those eyes are the reason why I’ll never go hunting.