I live in a semi-rural area, so close encounters of the wild animal kind are pretty common. There was the skunk hanging out under our back deck who got rousted by the neighbor’s dachshund. El stinko for several days in the yard and in the house. Then the deer in the front yard, looking like live lawn ornaments before they dashed off to safety. I’ve seen possum crossing our road late at night. Then there was the time a red-tailed hawk perched in one of our oak trees plucked its prey and sent a shower of feathers down on me.
The most entertaining (and often annoying) characters sharing my neighborhood are the raccoons. They are bold, greedy and far bigger than you think they ought to be. They swagger across our property as if they own the place.
We used to leave our cat door open all night and we’d end up with a ransacked garage–cat food bags and cereal boxes ripped open. One of them discovered the cat door that led from the garage to the house. It scarfed all the cat food in the downstairs bathroom and left muddy raccoon footprints all over the floor. When we switched to a door that was supposed to open only to my cats wearing their magnet collars, the raccoons figured out how to foil the lock. No more cat door.
One of my three cats still spends his days outdoors, so started leaving dry food out for him when I was away. I figured out pretty quick that although it was safe enough during daylight hours, the moment it got dark it was fair game for the raccoons. They’d wipe it out and avail themselves of the water bowl for their toilette. I learned my lesson–no more leaving that fancy, very expensive dry food out. I didn’t need to feed the neighborhood.
Then last night, I noticed Zak (the kitty who appears in my masthead) staring out the sliding glass door into the backyard. He has a skinny little striped tail and it was puffed up as big as a raccoon’s. I looked outside and there was a bandit, complete with mask, peering in at me. I could swear the nervy little bugger was saying to me, “Hey, lady, where’s the buffet?”
The critter ran off when I got closer to the door, but he kept coming back to stare at me. Maybe he was willing me to put another bowl of crunchies outside. I guess hope springs eternal.