Before we brought Baby (our first family dog) home in May of 2008, we had all sorts of weird or wounded suburban wildlife hanging around. It was almost like there was some kind of magnetic force drawing misfit animals to our house.
It started with an overly friendly squirrel that we named Nutsy. The first time I saw Nutsy, she chased me down the neighbor’s sidewalk grabbing at my hand the whole way. (Something to be aware of when around fearless squirrels is that fingers and toes resemble peanuts!) The second time I met her, I was out on the deck talking on the phone. I felt something furry on my bare foot but, since we had cats, I didn’t think too much of it. Until I looked down. There was a squirrel sitting on my foot! I screamed and jumped but Nutsy wasn’t bothered a bit. She sat there calmly while I went inside and got some peanuts for her. That was the beginning of a long friendship. For the next five years, Nutsy visited our house regularly. If we didn’t have nuts outside, she’d come in to lets us know. I’d be cooking dinner and turn around to get something out of the fridge and Nutsy would be sitting in the middle of the kitchen. Once I went to throw a load of laundry on the couch and had to stop mid throw because Nutsy was sitting on the couch. She had absolutely no fear of people. She walked across our laps and one time even walked across Michael’s chest when he was laying down. She was bold with other animals too. One time, we saw her have a boxing match with a crow!
The next wildlife friend I made was a young one-eyed raccoon that we oh-so-originally named One Eye. She came to our house every afternoon and hung around all afternoon and evening, at first very close to me. When I sat on the swing on the deck, she sat in the trees right beside the deck. When I went out to the garden, she followed along the fence. In the evening, she sat leaning against the glass, looking in. I guessed that maybe her mom had run her off before she felt ready to be on her own. Whatever the reason, she stayed around and the next year brought her babies to our deck and one of her babies only had one eye. Then she disappeared and One Eye 2 brought her babies to the deck and one of them only had one eye. Three generations of one-eyed raccoons. It was very strange!
During the years of One Eye and Nutsy, other creatures also showed up. Some animal that I’d never seen before and haven’t seen since crossed through our backyard one day. A fancy pigeon tried to land on the swing while I sat in it. A parrot hung around our yard one day and we spent most of an afternoon trying to catch it. Then there were squirrels with problems. We had a super muscular, very cranky squirrel hanging around for awhile. (We named him Arnold, after Arnold Schwarzenegger.) There were squirrels with massively enlarged testicles and squirrels with neurological problems that made them shake and tip over. But the strangest was Tusky, who appeared to have tusks.
We guessed that his jaw was misaligned so he couldn’t keep his teeth shortened by chewing on things. He was one I wanted to trap to take to a wildlife rehab place but, when there are dozens of creatures hanging around, there’s just no way to trap the one you want to catch. So, we fed him and hoped he’d be okay.
One of the last creatures I adopted was a raccoon who had an injured paw and his tail had been ripped from his behind. He wasn’t quite as docile as the One Eye family so Don didn’t want him around. But I felt bad for him and couldn’t chase him off. I named him Choppy (because of the tail, although Rip would have been more accurate) and fed him and even squirted disinfectant on his raw behind while he was eating and I was hiding inside the slider, ready to slam it closed. He didn’t try to attack though. I think he knew he needed us because of how vulnerable he was. He came to our house in the daytime, rather than the night, probably because there were no other raccoons out then to attack him. (The last One Eye hung around less than her mother and grandmother and only came after dark.)
Amazingly, none of these creatures bothered my cats and my cats never bothered about them. Nutsy would actually push the cats out of the way to get to the back door and the One Eyes would sit peacefully on the deck while the cats walked by. There were more vicious raccoons that came later at night but my daytime bunch were all very peaceful and well-behaved, other than chewing up our lawn furniture.
After we brought Baby home, the raccoons stopped coming around and the era of strange creatures ended. The squirrels are still here but they’re much healthier now that the raccoons aren’t around. No more mutant or odd balls, just normal, if somewhat friendlier than usual, squirrels.
Although I enjoyed my strange bunch of friends, I will always keep a dog around to keep away raccoons and stray cats. They somehow know how to find me and I just can’t turn any kind of creature away, no matter how unwise it is to let them hang around.
Please forgive the terrible photo quality – all these photos were taken before I had a digital camera and my scanner does a terrible job of scanning.