Teri Vance: A new year and no raccoon
Before we head into the new year, I think it’s only right to give everyone an update on the raccoon situation at our house. For those of you who missed the first column, we discovered a raccoon breaking into our house through the doggy door to eat the dog food.
Gary’s reaction was to try to kill it. Mine was to make it a pet — because it was super adorable, despite being a wild creature.
In response to that column, I received some of the best emails of my career. Seriously.
Resoundingly, the message was to get rid of the raccoon. Penni Eisele of Indian Hills put it succinctly: “Nail that DAMN door shut!”
“Nail up the dog door,” she wrote. “We once had a cat door. A skunk came in in the night to eat cat food. Our dog chased it through the house. The damage — $10,000. One of the worst experiences of our lives. Fortunately our insurance had an obscure clause that covered it. Took about three months to take care of.
“Nail that DAMN door shut!”
Jim McNeill wrote about his time working for the California State Parks System during summer breaks from college.
“I enjoyed your column and can understand the draw that raccoons have, but I really hope you were speaking tongue-in-cheek,” he wrote.
He said he worked with a ranger who kept feeding a raccoon in an effort to make it into a pet.
“It turned out badly for both the ranger and the raccoon,” he warned. “The raccoon became such a pest that we had to ban him from the visitor center and denied him his daily ‘treat.’ The result? The raccoon severely clawed and bit the ranger and had to be put down.”
He ended with this admonition: “Raccoons can be cuddly and cute when they’re young but as they mature they become aggressive and a threat to people and their pets. They’re wild animals and should be treated as such at all times.”
Paul Brugger even offered to let us borrow a trap to relocate our new visitor.
As it turned out, it was a relatively easy fix. After shutting it out for two nights (and the second night it returned often just to make sure it still couldn’t get in,) the raccoon moved on.
I know it was right to not continue feeding it, and I’m super relieved it wasn’t a skunk. Still, the thought of a pet raccoon — in theory — is pretty enticing.
I have had some consolation though. My sister gave me a raccoon ornament and my stepdaughter gave me the most charming raccoon cookie jar for Christmas. Every time I see it, I’m delighted all over again.
And I guess that will have to do. For now.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.