Friday, May 25, 2007

Wild Kingdom

Dorrie is half Beagle, half Treeing Walker Coonhound, or at least that’s according to the rescue people in Arkansas, where she’s from. And looking at her, that sounds about right to me.

So you’d think a half-coonhound living in the Bronx would suffer from a certain level of frustration of her genetic destiny, no?

Well – no.

That’s our mama raccoon, who lives in a hollow in a tree by our neighbor Nate’s house. She’s been around a while. Two summers ago, after Milo died but before we got Dorrie, she actually walked into our kitchen a couple of times looking for catfood – one memorable time when Mya and Kay and I were up late sitting at the table, drinking, and I had to actually chase her out.

Last summer we noticed her tail hanging out of the hole on a regular basis, and figured she was probably nursing babies in there. Sure enough, they started crawling around the tree and eventually one fell out -- luckily both of our animals were inside. It scuttled across the yard, frantically chittering, and she swooped down like an avenging angel and scooped it up by the scruff of its neck. We would see her moving them across our neighbor’s roof, probably shifting them from one den to another the way cats will move their kittens.

Dorrie discovered her this spring. It was like every single cell in her body suddenly pointed at this animal up in the tree, and she would jump in circles on her hind legs, run around frantically, bark, snarl, and practically hyperventilate. When she ran out of steam she’d lie on the back porch and just watch the tree for hours.
For the past couple of days, the mama coon has been hanging around outside her den, wedged into the place where a few branches meet just above the hole. We imagine her babies must be getting too big for her to be in there with them. She does not look happy about this at all – between Dorrie, Mr. Bonkers, and Nate’s large loud mastiff, she doesn’t look like she’s getting out much. But still she stays there, guarding her hole and her litter, looking for all the world like a pretty but vaguely harassed single mother. If she had a job, she’d be a waitress. She has a beautiful face.
Today was hot and sunny and still she slept outside, with her fur unkempt and her tongue hanging out (some people got out of work early for the long weekend and were able to witness this in person). I hope now that it’s dark, and Dorrie’s worn herself out and is sleeping sprawled out on the cool kitchen floor, the mama raccoon can go get herself a bite to eat and a drink of water. This afternoon we were actually toying with the idea of hoisting some catfood up the tree for her, in case she’s too scared of the general barking dog population to come down and forage. Even better would be to scatter a large amount of kibble on the flat roof of Nate’s house, preferably right over his bedroom, because he is on our Serious Shit List – but that is another post for another day.

Until then, sweet dreams, mama raccoon. May the trash cans of the neighborhood upend themselves quietly for you.



Blogger Kitt said...

Wow, great story! Great shots! Lovely to have that slice of nature right in the city.

8:35 PM  

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