Friday, March 27, 2009

The time I had a baby raccoon for a pet

I'm starting to slowly put posts back up, but only the ones I really liked. This is also one of my favorites, and probably old enough that not many people read it.

We moved from Buffalo, NY to Connecticut in 1975. We moved from a city into a very old house in the middle of nowhere. My mother made friends with a lady up the road who lived on a farm. I'm not sure if they were friends before or after my sisters started dating the lady's sons, but that doesn't really matter to the story. I was only about four years old at the time of the move.

The farm up the road had a chicken coop with a hen house, and it was being raided on a regular basis. I don't know if just the eggs were being taken, or if it was worse than that. I do know that they were a blended family with about 7 children to feed. It was not a loss that they could afford.

One night, the man of the farm heard a ruckus outside and went out with his shotgun. A huge raccoon was raiding their hen house and he shot her. As she was dying, she gave birth to a bunch of little helpless baby raccoons.

The man of the house was not a bad man, he was protecting the food that they needed to survive. He asked around to find people who were willing and able to take on the baby raccoons, instead of letting them also die. My mother has always been a sap for babies and taking in strays, and we took two of them.

We bottle fed the baby raccoons. We were never able to domesticate them, they remained wild animals. One of them died, despite our efforts. The other one could not get along with our cats and dog. We gave him away to one of my oldest sister's hippie friends. I'll never know what really happened to that little guy. The story I was told is that the hippie friends had him in a car with the windows rolled down, and he freed himself while they were shopping.

He doesn't look as if he likes being held by me very much in this particular picture (although he seems to like me in the picture below):

When he was still a baby, I had a kindergarten Pet Day. My father and one of his friends brought him to my school and I won "Most Unusual Pet". I also got my picture in the local paper. Thank god it was a very rural town - read "Very White Town" - or I think my family may have had some trouble afterward.

I honestly did not know any better, I was five years old at the time. When the man that was taking my picture asked me my pet's name, I told him straight out, "his name is Tyrone, Tyrone the Coon."

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for ensuring that the only time I've ever been in the paper in my life is when I am uttering a racial slur.


BeckEye said...

In that first picture he looks like you're telling him to "stick 'em up!" So cute.

BeckEye said...

Oh my God....and "Tyrone the Coon" has me laughing hysterically.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Beck - that picture of you is gorgeous! You need to stop bringing yourself down to Paula's level...

Cora said...

Aww, too cute!

My neighbors took in a wild baby squirrel for a pet after its mother was hit by a car. They fed it with a little baby bottle and everything. One day it ran out the front door and right into the trees and never came back. I saw it happen, and I wouldn't be surprised if Tyrone really did do the same thing.

kate said...

Tyrone the coon! Oh lordy. That's good!

We had a baby raccoon for awhile too; I remember most how incredibly soft his hands were. It was as if he'd just come back from a mani-pedi. And I LOVE how they wash their food before they eat it. But they always remain mean little suckers, don't they?