I am writing this entry to clear up the rumors and misinformation that have been disseminated throughout the Saint Louis and Facebook community.
Let me set the stage:
We live in an urban neighborhood within Saint Louis City – less than 2 blocks from a 24-7 coffee shop, a wine bar, a book store, and a bunch of restaurants and boutiques. Think Pacific Heights, Cambridge, Georgetown. We have a nice-sized yard but can hear the buses and pedestrians of Euclid Boulevard less than 200 feet away.
We have seen possums in the backyard, and on one or two occasions have spied a family of raccoons climbing in and out of the largest tree on our property but they’ve never acknowledged our presence and have stayed clear of the house.
So, you can imagine my surprise when, last Friday evening around 7:00, while enjoying a glass of Gloria Ferrer Brut on our back patio with my husband Bill, a wild raccoon launched a surprise attack on my leg.
It was still light out. Bill was on his laptop looking up potential Labor Day getaways, and I was looking at Bill, and therefore away from the attacker. Our cat, who I wouldn’t call a guard cat under the best of circumstances, was lazing on the patio stones between our chairs, picking his toe-claws.
The raccoon must have completed perimeter surveillance and then approached from our collective blind side, as I was not aware of him until he had attached himself to my leg. If you’ve ever been attacked by a dog or cat, even playing, you can envision what it was like – two clawed paws on either side of my calf, mouth in wide-open, full-on “I plan to eat you for dinner” mode.
Now, I need to explain that I have always *loved* raccoons. My childhood stuffed animal, who currently resides in my bedside table, is Raunchy the Raccoon. (My siblings are nine and twelve years older than me and apparently took to saying “that thing is so raunchy”. The name stuck.)
While others call them fuzzy rats or dumpster divers, I’ve been defending raccoons for thirty years. The cute hamburgler mask! The pointy little nose with the cute whiskers! The ringed tail! I love them so much that I posted a Facebook entry when we started carrying Angel Dear’s Raccoon Lovie.
So, you can imagine my shock, and disappointment, to find a hamburgler face staring up at me with wild-eyed hatred and a mouthful of my Joe’s Jeans.
In my mind I was saying “Oh my God Bill this raccoon must be rabid get the cat and get inside and call 911 before I die of rabies!” but apparently what came out sounded more like “AhhheeeeeeeEEEEOOHHHHHHHHHEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKk!!!!!!!!!”
Bill didn’t realize it was a raccoon at all until I had shaken it free – which took a surprising amount of force. The raccoon hustled about 6 feet away and then reared around for more – up on his hind legs, arms waving … it was straight out of a National Lampoon movie. Bill threw a chair cushion at him, which he mauled for a second or two before focusing his attention back to us.
I managed to grab the cat and get indoors – I remember having a mental debate about whether I should take the Bose sound system or the Waterford champagne flutes with me (they’re discontinued!) – like I would never see our backyard again. Bill chased the beast into a tree, but the raccoon still only went to the first comfortable landing, turned around, and hissed down at Bill in disdain.
Once we were both inside, I rolled my jeans up. The raccoon had pierced my shin with both fangs but the wound was not deep since I’d been wearing jeans. We both remarked about what a moron the insane, whacked-out rabid raccoon was to go for the one of us with pants on.
Then we called Animal Control and got a voicemail telling us they were closed for the holiday weekend and to call 911 in the case of an animal bite. So we called 911 and they asked us what we thought they were supposed to do. Bill gave them some very creative and I thought effective suggestions.
Finally we called our friend Rob Corley, an ER doc. Rob and his wife Amie had invited us to New Orleans for the weekend but we decided to stay home to save money, so I said immediately that the Louisiana voodoo gods were paying us back and that we would never NOT go to New Orleans again. He sent us to an ER nearby.
I won “most exotic” case of the evening at the ER. The nurses all got a kick out of us, and had fun trying to pawn the job of sticking me with foreign substances off onto less experienced colleagues. We could hear them on the phone at the nurses’ station: “You stick them where?!? How many times?!!?” I eventually got 7 shots – 4 around the wound, 1 on my thigh above the wound, a tetanus shot in my arm and the vaccine shot in my arm. I could explain why I got all of these where, but the CDC does it much better: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/
I had to go back again yesterday, and will get two more vaccine shots this Friday and next.
So, that's the story.
To answer some of the many questions that have been posed:
- So far, I have not displayed any signs of turning into a raccoon, a werewolf, or a vampire.
- I do know the difference between a bat, a possum, a squirrel, a raccoon, and my own cat. To those of you who sounded incredulous until you discovered that my husband was also a witness: I hope you get mauled by a raccoon too, so that I can say I told you so.
- You can only get rabies from a bite, so, unless I bite you, you should be fine in my company.
- No, we have not torn down any trees lately, nor are we planning on putting a strip-mall in our backyard. This is not a Disney movie.
- I do not know if the raccoon is “OK”, unless by “OK” you mean “normal”, in which case I can say with certainty that the raccoon is NOT OK.
- We called Animal Control again today; they said maybe they’d stop by, if they were in the neighborhood, and take a look around.
- Therefore, if you are in the Central West End, and it is daylight, and you see a raccoon: RUN!
- We haven't decided whether we're going to continue carrying the Raccoon Lovie. We might see what our fans think.