Event #227: Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday afternoon, I took Wobbles on our wobble-run, a little later in the day than usual. It was a really hot Friday. On the way back, now at my peak jog-pace, Wobbles swung slightly off the path and drew me up short when he stuck his nose in something and wouldn’t back off. I tried pulling him, he was too interested to pull away, so this was one of the rare times when I will stop and go investigate. He had sniffed out a live animal, a very small, baby raccoon, on the edge of the pathway, just off the side, in the brush. I didn’t want to intervene and pulled Wobbles away. Flies started landing on the baby, who was pretty clearly alone and abandoned. I walked a little way. I considered the options. Do raccoons have nests on land or in trees? I’m not even sure. Burrows, I suspect. There’s plenty of trees here, but also plenty of hidden spots amongst all the brush and woods and fallen-down stuff. Where was the nest? Why was the baby out of the nest? Was the mother killed? I looked ahead to see how much distance I still had to cover in this intense, somewhere-in-the-90’s heat. Did I want to carry it that far? Not really. Was there anything I could carry it with? And what could I do with it once I did? Nurture it? I didn’t know anything about raising a baby raccoon. But I have taken injured, abandoned wild things to rehab centers, so since this one seemed like it would die if I left it, I picked it up, wrapped it in a handful of the biggest leaves I could find, and I carried it the rest of the way. It was not easy, juggling an infant raccoon wrapped in leaves, my coffee mug, and Wobbles. By now, Wobbles needed a drink in the river from the heat, so we navigated the treacherous path to the river, and I gave him and the baby a drink. Baby did not seem to know what to do with river water. Baby didn’t even have his eyes open yet! What had I done? I should put him back. But the flies… the heat… the baby was going to die. So I brought him home with us. I had a cage, and an eye-dropper, and tried to give baby water. Baby doesn’t know how to drink. I did some internet research and discovered that rehab centers don’t take what they consider to be RVS. That stands for Rabies Vector Species. Well, they DO in fact TAKE them, but then they kill them. So again, certain death for baby. (Remember, I’ve had my rabies shots, one of the things I considered before I picked him up). Bob came home and met baby. Bob had been given a head’s up and agreed we should at least try to do something. But then, as I looked online for more information, since wildlife rehab was no longer an option, I found that it would be nearly impossible to try to raise this infant raccoon. And then totally impossible for it to ever be returned to the wild. Again, death for baby.

The site I found this on provided some pretty detailed instructions for returning a wild baby to its mother, so on the chance Mamma was still alive, Bob and I decided that baby’s only chance for survival, albeit slim, was to return him where we found him. We followed the instructions to the letter, including proper protection and warmth, and took baby back to the exact same spot. And provided Mamma did not get killed somewhere (this was not near a road), there was a pretty good chance that baby would get reunited. Let’s hope. None of the other scenarios were looking very hopeful for baby. Then, when we got home from all that, I found a new arrangement on my desk of me (my character) with Nuttah — and a little pile of hearts in front of us. Was this to somehow signify that she approved? Or am I just reading that into it? Here are the two pictures from this “event”:

My character with Nuttah and a small 'pile' of hearts in front of us.

Baby Raccoon


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