It’s not every day that you witness a bank robbery in broad daylight, or that the perp gets away with the goods despite photographic evidence of the crime.
Unusually, instead of the crime ending with a chase scene, it began with one—from my kitchen window, I saw a squirrel racing across the courtyard with a raccoon in hot pursuit. As the squirrel vanished around the corner, the raccoon came to a stop. Quickly, quietly, and efficiently, every single one of the squirrel’s food banks, contents painstakingly gathered and stored underground for a rainy day, were plundered and consumed.
Having disposed of the evidence, the masked thief strolled casually across the courtyard, completely unconcerned that I had opened a window and was clicking away with my camera (see photos). And why should he be? No evidence of a crime remained, and I doubted the squirrel was going to take the issue up with him.
As the raccoon sauntered over toward the back fence, I opened another window with a better view. Hanging out the window, clicking away, I sensed a presence by my elbow. It was my dog, Puma. He made no sound, but I could feel the intensity of his focus.
I have to give him credit, Puma has gamely adjusted to every eccentricity in my household since I first adopted him from a shelter in Montana. When he arrived in Seattle he was a Western rural dog who had never experienced big city living, and to him raccoons were varmints.
My first inkling that Puma and I were not on the same page concerning the preservation of wildlife came late one night. My cats began crazily freaking out and bouncing off the walls, while simultaneously Puma began to growl, something he never does. And it was a growl that really meant business.
With my hair almost standing on end, I was convinced that we were under attack by a serious unknown threat. I could hear sounds coming from the back stairs, which meant I must have left the back door open. Oh, dear. Bravely grasping my tiny flashlight, and wishing it was much more substantial as a potential weapon, I headed to the back door, Puma at my side.
Placing my hand on the doorknob, I could feel all the cats take a deep breath (and I’m sure I did, too), and then I did the one thing that convinced Puma I had lost my mind, I put him behind me and made him sit. I could clearly hear him say, “Are you nuts!?” But, bless him, he did it.
As I opened the door gingerly, the small beam of my flashlight illuminated the masked face of our intruder, a very large raccoon who was busily tearing into, and consuming, the samples of high-quality cat and dog food I had so conveniently left on the stairs for her.
With Puma guarding my back, I drew myself up to full height from the hunting crouch I had not realized I had assumed, and sternly told the bandit, “I’m going to count to three, and I expect you to put down the goods and exit the building.” There was a part of me that wondered what I thought I was going to do on three, but I squelched it, the best offense is a good bluff.
And the raccoon thought it over and decided that perhaps I meant business. But she let me know that she did not consider me a serious threat as she slowly sauntered down the stairs and out of the building. The cats stood down from red alert, and Puma, still shaking his head over the apparent daftness of his human, went back to bed. In his mind, I should have let him at the varmint.
Not long after Puma had his chance. We were in the backyard when suddenly he dashed out of sight around the side of the building. Rounding the corner, I discovered that Puma had treed two unhappy teenage raccoon twins.
Puma was grievously disappointed when I pulled him away—he was having fun. But the worst was yet to come.
While we were out walking one day, I noticed a raccoon entering a neighbor’s house through the cat door. Easily picturing the dismay of their multiple cat household I returned home to leave a message regarding their intruder and grabbed my camera. As Puma and I left the house again, I was surprised to see the raccoon drinking water from the small pond behind the iron gates of my next-door neighbor’s front yard.
The raccoon looked really awful, he had open wounds and many areas of fur were missing. Apparently, he had been hit by a car and dragged. He moved stiffly and was in pain, and I felt sorry for him.
But not Puma. He wanted a piece of that injured raccoon, but he was somewhat hesitant because he knew I did not share his perspective. The raccoon was calm, secure in knowing that a fence separated him from disapproving Puma. Sensing my feelings of compassion, the raccoon sent me a pleading look, and I caved.
Putting Puma on sit once again (and I had to tell him twice because he truly did not want to), I reached into the bag that I carried and pulled out my newly purchased deli sandwich—the one I had been looking forward to having for lunch.
Puma shot me a look of pure disbelief as I sacrificed half of my sandwich, tossing it through the gate to the eager raccoon. I just looked at Puma and shrugged.
All of those shared encounters flashed through my mind as Puma and I hung out the window observing the current raccoon nonchalantly stroll across the roof of my garage—the same masked bandit who had pillaged that poor squirrel’s rainy day food bank. As we watched the raccoon disappear over the roof peak, presumably to knock over another hard-working squirrel’s stash, I put my arm around Puma and gave him a quick hug of acknowledgment. For the first time, we were in agreement—this raccoon was a thieving varmint.
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.