Monday, June 20, 2011


The other night Ryan and I were walking home from a baseball game. As we walked towards the entrance of the apartment building I stopped and pointed out two young raccoons. They looked a little too young to be without their Mom, but she was no where to be scene. As they saw us, they tried to run and jump up into the flower bed. They were so little they couldn't really manage it, and I began to worry about dogs or drunk jerks walking by. One made it up and ran into the bushes. Then the most adorable thing happened. The raccoon left the safety of cover and ran to the side of the flower bed and reached down a hand to help his stranded sibling. Animals can't be altruistic? Kiss my ass.

I'll admit to a soft spot for raccoons. My home growing up, thanks to my step mom, always had some sort of rescued animal. To this day I'm pretty sure my dad and step mom never went actively looking for a dog, they always just kind of  showed up - and we lived in the middle of no where. As a kid I played with two Arctic wolf pups rescued from a crappy, and abusive road side zoo - until we found an amazing animal sanctuary, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, for them to live out their lives. I helped raise litters upon litters of kittens. And my favourite: helped raise a few litters of raccoons too!

Que Rolo:

Let me sleep!

I think it was my first (and only) summer back home from university. I live about twenty minutes outside of a small town and I was on my way home after a long day at work. There's a little retirement pre-fab home park about half way to my parents house that had a couple ponds and lots of wildlife. In front of the park I noticed a little lump of road kill, which always pulls at my heart strings. As I drove by I could have sworn I saw the lump look up at the car. I drove almost all the way back home, stopping short to pull into my neighbours driveway to think. Had it really lifted it's head? Couldn't have, your just being crazy... Right? 

So I drove all the way back.

As I got out of the car, I realised I was right. The lump that was formally a young raccoon was indeed breathing. It wasn't really moving, and there was blood coming from her nose but she was breathing. Whether it was going to live or not I couldn't leave it there. I wrapped her up in an old sweater and drove her home. 

We found an abandoned kitten the same night! Best friends. 

After waking up my step mom by crying and screaming words like "Baby," "Car," and "Blood" she brushed the sleep from her eyes and grabbed a cat crate, heating pad, and a syringe. She handed everything to me with instructions to keep her warm, but not too warm in case of dehydration, and to see if she'll drink water from the syringe. I spent the night with her wrapped up in my sweater with me on the couch, waking up now and then to see if she wanted a drink. By morning she was opening her eyes and taking a good amount of water. After a conference with our vet it was concluded she has no broken bones but was probably hit in the head, causing her brain to swell. She was showing good signs but I was told not to get my hopes up. 

That day Ryan came over to see me sitting on the couch talking to a bundle that he thought was baby. I'm not sure if he questioned that well enough, considering I'm not one known to enjoy holding human babies... He came over to see the "baby" and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw what I really had. But come on, kind of cool right? After I convinced him that no, not all raccoons had rabies we took turns giving her water. 

Over the next few days we realised she couldn't really move the right side of her body. The vet said it was probably more to do with the brain swelling, not a spinal injury, and would get better as she healed. It actually made caring for her waayyy easier then the litters that came before her because she kind of just moved in circles and couldn't climb. All the little circles inspired us to call her Rolo. She had a little pen that we set up in the living room but could also be moved outside. She was very nice considering she was a was a wind animal. She growled and nipped a bit if you touched her on her right side because she couldn't see out of that eye or protect herself. She'd sit on my lab, come over for pets, and she LOVED to play little games with all the toys we got her. To help her get a little exercise my dad put down a 2by4 that Rollie would lean her right side against and use her left side to walk. A little coon raceway!

I like this picture bc it looks like she's giving me the finger!
She got progressively better and better and we'd often take her outside to hang out in the yard. She'd go exploring for bugs or the bits of food I'd leave for her to find. We couldn't leave her unattended in fear of hawks, but we were always able to find her because her best friend (a kitten we found the same night) was always standing vigil.. and eating her food. 

At the end of summer my parents drove her up to Aspen Valley and she spend another year and a half there getting ready for release. The sanctuary has this huge raccoon village where she stayed after she was well enough to live safely. It's full of tree's and little raccoon forts and jungle gyms - basically raccoon heaven if your not well enough to live in the wild. I'm happy to say Rollie was released in 2009, healthy and fat, into an area far away from any more cars.

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