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Front Page » September 21, 2010 » Opinion » Raccoons have no respect for the aged
Published 1,496 days ago

Raccoons have no respect for the aged


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The room was dark, but the illumination of the neighbor's overhead garage light still gave glow to things that moved around. I was asleep, but I still heard it.

Clomping.

I raised my head up off the pillow and couldn't see anything moving about the room. I glanced into the corner and there was our blind Siberian Husky sleeping on her bed. A glance over the top of the bed's footboard brought the realization that the other Siberian I have in the house, the deaf one, was asleep by the bathroom door. I laid my head back down.

More clomping.

Then a big wet lick in the face was placed upon me.

It was the clomper...another Siberian we had recently inherited pretty much permanently this time. His big ears and large nose were right there blocking out the light from the street lamp next door. Then I heard a muffled "ahhhhhhhhhh." Actually it was more than muffled; it was a whisper. The clomper needed to go out.

I got up and looked out into the night through the window. The moon was rising through the trees to the east.

There was that clomping sound again.

"My hell Beau, I am getting dressed to let you out," I said to him as he slammed his feet down on the wooden floors of our house. "Give me a minute."

Now 14 years old, Beau is kind of an elder statesman among dogs at my place. He hasn't always lived with me, but he had been here on and off enough over the years so much that everyone, including me, knew he was the boss. Debarked when he was four because of a howling no one around him could stand, he had developed his paws to the point that you could tell when he needed to go to the bathroom just by the way he pounded them on the floor. Thus the nickname, the clomper.

As I removed the gate that keeps the dogs from wandering about our house at night I noticed the other two had been awakened by the disturbance.

They followed me to the mud/utility room at the back of our house. Miss Blind and Mrs, Deaf needed to have their leashes put on to muck about the lawn searching for the proper place to relieve themselves. The clomper needed no such contrived restraint because age had made him slow enough that even a near 60ish old guy like me could out run him. As we went out the back door Beau danced with joy as he ran (or what resembles running for him) onto the lawn and immediatelly got down to business. Meanwhile the other dogs were pulling me around under the apple tree trying to find a desirable spot to go.

Suddenly I heard a clunk near the house and there in the dim light of our colored patio lanterns I could see creatures taking a drink from the ornamental fountain that was turned off, but full of water. It was two raccoons. The dogs on my leash were ignoring them because they had found some cast off apples that had fallen from the tree and were eating them. But not Beau, not now.

In real time Beau often emulates the other two; he acts like he can't see something you want him to see, and often he acts like he can't hear you. He has the qualities many wives say their husbands have; selective sight and hearing. But that night he could see and hear and he knew what he wanted.

He wanted raccoon.

It was the first time in years that I had seen Beau act like he was three again. He jumped into the air as he turned around and started after the critters, clomping across the lawn. I could see what would happen but was largely unable to act with two other dogs (who would run off into the night if I let go) pulling me the other way.

To those of us who love him, Beau has always been tatamount to a handsome surfer dude. A very good looking dog with long hair, a muscular build and sweet eyes, he could charm anyone who looked at him. But bright he was not. The raccoons weren't impressed. They stood their ground.

He reached the fountain and they just drank like nothing was there. He "ahhhhhed" at them. They looked at him as if to say, "Who are you?" He stomped his feet but they barely noticed. Then he got too close. Suddenly, the hunter turned into the hunted. They jumped down from the fountain's edge and came toward him. He started to realize he was not only outnumbered, but also was not two years old again.

He clomped as fast as he could back toward me falling in a small ditch that runs across the lawn. He looked up at me pitifully as I shined my headlamp on him.

By this time I had the other two under control, and was headed toward the fountain. The raccoons saw me coming with the handicapped duo (of course they didn't know that) and they skedaddled. I turned around and Beau was still laying in the grassy ditch, mortified.

I put the other two dogs in the house and went out to get the big boy. I saw in him, myself. No longer able to move very fast because of bad knees and years that had caught up with me, he and I weren't so different from one another. I picked him up and carried him to the door. He gave one last "ahhhhhh" and we went in. I looked at him, turned and went "ahhhhhh" into the night too.

It was his, and my, final warning to those darned raccoons.

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September 21, 2010
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