Category Archives: Wildlife

Boxing Houdinis

My morning meanderings were interrupted today by a request from Mum-in-law: with heaven only knows what trickery, the dogs had managed to escape their kennel. One had wandered up to Nan-in-law’s house, the other, as became clear from a glance out the window, was happily trotting in circles, sniffing the snow.

Left dog (Molly): Up at Nan's. Right dog (Carmen): Happy circles in the snow.

Before I moved here, my pet ownership experiences were sadly limited. My grandparents had a Yorkshire Toy Terrier (which is not really a dog) but living in London, in rented accomodation, put paid to the idea of my own dog or cat – and the critters I owned when I was little don’t count. My rabbit went mad, was given to a local animal park that had a warren and, when we went to visit, had killed off all its colleagues. My fish were neither furry nor huggable and my brother’s guinea pig just sat in the garden being big.

Joining a household with so many animal inhabitants was one of the many pleasures of my Wyoming exodus – largely because these ones are so full of personality and bounce. A little too much bounce, in today’s case; my task for the morning was to round them up and get them back indoors.

Previous escape attempt.

Carmen was easy to catch up with: offer her a cuddle and a bit of attention and she’s yours for the taking. Her closest animal relative is Eeyore; she likes to make out as if nary a soul has petted her in all these long years. Were she able to speak, her doe-eyed catchphrase would be: “Thanks for noticing me”.

Molly, on the other hand, is the most enthusiastic dog I have ever met. Literally everything excites her; she can generally be found sniffing, digging, plotting or thieving rags from Dad-in-law’s back pocket. Her victory list of bowled-over visitors encompasses children, adults and unwitting Englishwomen.

Our dog, Maggie: Princess, darling, general ball of adorable.

Apparently, part ownership in a pooch has honed my dog herding skills. I clocked Molly’s ears bouncing over the snow line, called her name in my most masterful tone, watched her screech to a halt and discovered she was still interested in the concept of bowling me over. She had a 100-foot run-up. I watched that jubilant boxer hurtle towards me and couldn’t work out whether to fling myself to the floor or leg it for the hills. There wasn’t time to decide but, thankfully, a small sidestep prevented the bum-on-snow she’d intended. All that remained was to bounce her towards the house.

That’s now two dogs and a Tasmanian-Devil-in-disguise that will mind me. Anyone know how to achieve the same effect on a slightly bitey kitten?

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Raccoon Karaoke

Inspiration is a funny old thing. Voila a warped version of the evil raccoon, courtesy of the ever-imaginative Sparky Malarkey.


Fluppets Lied To Me

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, I had a Fluppet in the shape of a raccoon. Regard:

See how adorable that is? Look at its plaintive face and fluffy little body. Imagine the delight that little hand puppet instilled in me when used by one or other of my parents as a tickling tool and/or storytelling device. Literally the cutest stripey little bastard in the world, a raccoon…. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Then I met one… dear Christ. Regard once more:

Ominous, no? Not the same thing at all. Not to mention that an actual raccoon is not a small critter that would fit snugly on a seven-year-old’s hand, but a big bulky bastard that outweighs our dog on something like a two-for-one basis.

Mind you, that’s not the best comparison I’ve ever made, because our dog is a Delicate Flower and two growth stages away from being outweighed by my kitten. For my English compadres, think of a raccoon as a whole new league of badger: fluffy in theory, bad-tempered in person.

The problem is, raccoons tend to come out in pictures like so:

This is not the truth. This picture almost certainly portrays a group of raccoons posing for effect. I’ve been told that a raccon around these parts will lead a dog to water and then hold its head under, and I believe it, because a raccoon, in my newfound experience, is a lot more like this:

I recently had dinner with Hubby’s best friend, along with his girlfriend and family, during which I was told there was a raccoon outside, in a cage, that they’d had to trap because it kept going after the chickens. They were planning to take it far, far away before setting it free.

I asked if I could have a peek, still under the impression it would want to give me a cuddle, and thus destroyed a lifelong belief. They are fluffy, it’s true, but they are also unnecessarily huge, sport claws the length of my fingers and hiss in an unnerving manner when approached.

Not cute, not cute at all. I’m dreading meeting a porcupine, which I’ve always assumed to be about the same size as a hedgehog, but am told is the circumference of a bin lid.

Still not convinced? Regard one last time:

See? Not cute, just bitey.