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Monday, August 22, 2005

Rainy Days & Mondays

Your regularly scheduled blog post has been interrupted by yet another animal emergency in my backyard. Sometimes I wonder if we have a sign out back that can only been seen by critters.

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He seemed normal enough. Young, curious, eating raisins, crackers and cat food. He was young enough to not be afraid of people but old enough to be away from his mom.

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As the morning progressed, he should have gone back to his home. He instead opted to hang around the Lane Estate a while longer.

I told Mr. Lane that the most obvious sign of a rabid raccoon was for it to be up and around during the daytime. And before I could say another word, the poor thing started frothing and seizing. I know he is just a raccoon but it really made us sad to see him that way. We decided to watch him but keep a safe distance between us.

I went online to checkout symptoms of rabid raccoons and found out, our little friend, no doubt, was going to die. From what I could tell, he was somewhere between the second and third stage of the disease. There is no cure and no hope.

I called our local animal control, you know the place that has yet to provide us with assistance during all of our critter crises, and of course, they proved useless, again. Animal control only takes care of stray dog complaints. I asked when they will be changing their name to Dog Control. They gave me attitude and the game warden's phone number.

Another new development that I've yet to blog about, my brother in-law Corky, moved from Portland, Oregon to be closer to his family here in Illinois. Mr. Lane and I offered him a place to stay. Although, he decided against actually moving in, he has been here for a week. He intends to stay with their sister until he finds a place of his own.

Corky is a huge movie buff. All of the talk about the rabid raccoon had his wheels cranking about Stephen King's 1983 horror movie, Cujo. Besides having a very active imagination, he is an animal lover. He was very upset that I called animal control. I explained that in this stage, he will continue to approach people, even neighborhood children. He will eventually bite someone.

After an hour of waiting for the warden to get back to me, I called the county sheriff. I explained the situation. We joked about our shitty animal control and the crappy county we live in. He told me to get all of the neighborhood kids to stay far away and said he would send a rookie deputy over to get his feet wet.

As we hung up, my phone rang. It was the warden. He was in the midst of some big investigation. Yeah, right! The warden asked if my husband was home. I told him he was and asked why.

"Well, ma'am, I am right in the middle of this here investigation and I can't come out to help. I think your husband outta take his rifle to him."

"Yeah. Um... my husband doesn't have a rifle. Don't worry yourself though, we called the sheriff and they are on the way."

"Great. Well tell the officer I said to gone ahead and shoot it. He can just dump it off in a corn field."

"Yeah, okay. Bye."

What kind of stupid fucked up redneck hell do I live in? No doubt the animal was going to be put down. But to assume my husband owns a rifle is beyond ridiculous. Poor Corky was mortified by the warden.

He said, "They're really going to kill him?"

"Yeah sweetie. There's nothing that they can do for him. He would otherwise die a very slow painful death."

"So they are just going to shoot him right here in your yard?"

"Probably. We need to send all of these kids home."

"Lois, you're kidding me right?"

"No. That's the way they do things here."

"Oh my gosh! That is just crazy. You know, if we were in Oregon right now, there would be a line of protestors keeping them from shooting the poor thing. They would call this animal cruelty."

"Sweetheart, I love animals. I really do. But I think it's much more cruel to not only take our chances on a child getting bit but to let him suffer. Maybe you need to go inside too."

"No, I'm fine. I can handle it."

The kids went to their respective homes and the deputy pulled into the driveway.

"I've never had a call like this before. Has it bitten anyone?"


Corky asked, "Are you going to kill him?"

The officer could tell by his tone that he was sad and really didn't want the raccoon to die. "I'm afraid so young man."

I tried to get Corky to go inside but he just had to be there. The officer used a low impact rifle with plastic tipped bullets. He said he was using that as a safety precaution because of this being a residential area. I think he also felt compelled to explain to Corky what he was doing.

He is now buried in our backyard turned Pet Cemetery. He is among friends. Picasso, a stray cat that was hit in front of the house, the opossum mom and three of her babies. Corky tried to make himself feel better by thinking aloud. "He didn't suffer. He had a decent last meal. He was petted and loved. He got a nice burial too."

I prefer happy endings too but this is life with the Lanes. Nothing is ever perfect. R.I.P. Ricky Raccoon.