Brooke here. No pictures this time, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
Yesterday morning, Brown calls me into the living room and points out what he thinks is a raccoon on the other side of our backyard fence. From twenty feet and a window away, it looks like a possum to me; it’s on its back and doing a little wiggle-dance in the mud. My first thought is that it’s doing the possum version of a bird taking a dirt bath.
We watch it from various windows–I finally accept it is a raccoon–and we gradually realize it’s dying. The raccoon is moving its forelegs but not its back legs: I think it’s been hit by a car and has dragged itself somewhere to die; Brown thinks it fell off of the roof and broke its back. And now we’re in the awkward situation where we realize one of us should do something with the business end of the shovel, but we are not business-end-of-shovel people.
Plus, dying wild animal. Keep your distance.
Brown ended up calling Animal Control, who asked Brown to describe what he saw and then sent someone out immediately. Like, Jimmy John’s freaky-fast. And that’s when I started to worry, because even though the raccoon was barely moving its back legs, it was still able to move them intermittently. Hello, warning sign of paralytic-stage rabies!
Zu is fully up-to-date on his vaccinations, and thanks to a crazy rainstorm, he hadn’t been loose in the yard that morning (see: woman in her pajamas, standing on the front porch, yelling at the dog on the other end of the retractable leash to hurry up and do his business, no it doesn’t matter where, because we are all about to drown, that’s why!). But I’ve called Animal Control for roaming dogs before, and it usually takes them at least thirty minutes to show. So they were taking this seriously, and now we were, too.
The Animal Control guy shows up, Brown takes him to see the raccoon, and the guy stops dead in his tracks.
Brown: “What do you think? Does it have rabies?”
Animal Control Officer: “I’m not allowed to comment, but is your dog up on its shots?”
And then the raccoon was taken away. I would be very surprised if it is still on this mortal coil of ours. Or if its head is still attached to its body.
Total guess on our part whether the animal had rabies or not. Unless Animal Control contacts us for a follow-up and property inspection, we might never know what was wrong with the raccoon. We also assume the officer is not allowed to comment until the tests come back, because he’s just fueling speculation and panic until then.
I know this blog paints a nice picture of a quaint do-it-yourselfer shack in the middle of the woods, but we’re smack in the middle of suburbia. We live within walking distance of a Target. There’s a major highway a few miles away, and an international airport some distance after that. We ain’t in the boonies out here, guys.
Read up. Be aware. And keep your distance.
(p.s.: And get your animals up-to-date on their shots. I personally know two good dogs that were put down because it was local “policy” to do so when there was even a chance they had come into contact with a carrier. It seems like a Dick Move of a policy but it’s really not, and it’s completely avoidable if you take care of your pets.)