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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Raccoon Syndrome

Before I begin here, let me assure you this is absolutely a true story.  It won't sound like it, but it is.  Here goes:
Night before last I wake up from a sound sleep (not unusual).  I laid there for a minute trying to figure out why I woke up and if I can go back to sleep.  Oh.  It's my dog.  Yes, Angel is a dog.  Not a polar bear as she has been accused of, but a dog, albeit a really big dog.  She barks sometimes.  Dogs do that.  But this - well this was more than barking - it was dog language for 'carrying on at a very high rate of excitement.'  The problem with this, of course, is that it's the middle of the night.  OK - maybe some past the middle.  My clock says 3:30.  I probably could have turned over and gone back to sleep despite the noise, but my neighbors crossed my mind.  I'd be willing to bet their clocks said 3:30 too and that they probably didn't want to wake up quite that early.  I glance over at my husband.  Still snoring. That figures.
"Okay, Angel.  Let's solve this dog problem."  I left my warm bed and tiptoed down the stairs so as not to wake sleeping husband or son (Duh - if this barking doesn't wake them, my bare feet in the hallway certainly isn't going to.)
I unlock the door and slip outside unnoticed by Angel, who is completely captivated at the moment by whatever she's barking at.  "Angel!  Hush."  No effect.  "Angel - be quiet!"  The barking gets louder.  So how's your mental image coming along by now?  I'm standing outside in my nightshirt in the dead of night talking to a dog that doesn't understand a word I'm saying and furthermore, does not care what I am saying.  It rained earlier.  I'm not too interested in walking out there too far in my bare feet.  Then, I hear it.  An odd sound, I can't quite place it.  It's a loud sound.  I can actually hear it over the incessant barking.  I listen a moment.  There is only one word for this sound.  Chatter.  Definite chattering is going on over there by Angel's pen just outside of my range of vision.  Obviously whatever is making that awful inhuman noise didn't quite get my admonitions for quiet either.
Then it dawns on me.  I know that sound.  It's the same sound a raccoon makes when a dog has it treed.  (I grew up in a family of coon hunters - its really not such a weird thing that I know this - okay maybe it is but that's not the point of this story).  A coon huh?  In town?  That doesn't happen often.  No wonder Angel is barking.  She probably has no idea what that thing in our yard is and its talking to her real mad like.  More mad than me - by a long shot!
So as all this sinks in, the thought of me being out there in the dark with a mad coon that probably has multiple deadly diseases isn't going over real well with me at the moment.  I go back inside and try to figure out what to do.  Chances are my neighbors can't see or hear this coon and they are growing unhappier with my dog by the minute.  From the window on the stairway landing, I look out into our north yard and I can see the shadow of this coon sitting there telling off my dog.  It is humongous as coons go - but then my dog is humongous as dogs go, so I guess they're a well matched pair each trying to win this war of words they are playing.  Time to call out the big guns.
I crawl back into bed and try to wake up my husband without him knowing it was me that woke him up (it's an art form and I'm pretty good at it)
"Would you go see what's wrong with the dog"
"Wha.....?"
"Can't you hear the dog barking?"
"You want me to go see why the dog's barking?"
"Yes"
"In the middle of the night?"
"Please?"
Obediently, if a bit reluctantly he gets up.  A few minutes later he comes back to the room, but the dog is still barking.  I think about saying something, but decide that's probably not my best option when he starts pulling on jeans. (Which immediately begs the question, "What was he wearing when he went outside before?" - Let's not go there.) So - shoes too! Yeah - this is serious.  He has spotted this coon and is going to go do something.  My hero.
Eventually the dog gets quiet and I fall back to sleep.  It's not until the next morning when I hear the 'rest of the story.'  There was not one but two coons in our yard.  Problem with that, one of 'em happened to be dead.  We don't know who the murderer was.  Maybe the big coon did it in.  Maybe it fell out of the tree.  Whatever the case, it wasn't going to move without some help.
The details of moving the coon are not going into this blog.  Truth is, I don't know exactly how he got moved and would like to keep it that way.  But, once moved, the big coon ran off to finish its mad somewhere else and Angel went back to sleep.  Good dog!  And just for the record, she may be big but her bark is way worse than her bite.  She's never hurt anything save a few heavy duty dog toys that got rather torn apart once they found their way to her pen.  The only way she might conceivably hurt anyone is by loving them to death.
So what did I learn from my coon adventure?  Just this.  Angel got my attention the only way she knew how so I - we - Ok, my husband, could take care of her problem.  Who wants to stare at a dead coon all night?  I decided then and there that if God wants my attention He may start out softly tapping on my heart's door.  If I don't answer, He may knock louder.  I need to answer his call before He has to take more drastic measures and break the door down.  Be alert.  Pay attention.  Don't miss the whole thing because you were asleep. If you hear Him knocking, always answer right away.  It's your wake-up call.