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Raccoon Summer

In June, I ask my partner if we can foster a dog.

“We won’t just foster it,” he says. No.

Our elderly sheepdog was put down in May, and she left a 90-pound vacuum in the house that I wasn’t ready to fill—but I thought fostering would be fun.

In July, I ask my partner if we can foster raccoons.

“It’s illegal to keep raccoons,” he says. Yes.

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They show up in a cat carrier with a little bit of food and a soiled terrycloth apron to sleep on. I feed them four times a day. They have diarrhea, and they seem to have an affinity for exploding all over my partner. After the first four times, he mostly refuses to pick them up, and I take over the four-times-a-day feedings of cream-thick raccoon formula, specially ordered from a boisterous, eccentric man in Illinois.

They transition to a mixture of rice cereal and formula, which dries like wallpaper paste to their fur, my garage floor, my clothes, my hair. I smell like raccoon and I change clothes multiple times a day and it’s all worth it when they sit on my shoulder and purr in my ear and groom the back of my neck.

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Jetpack is out of camp for most of the summer, and my partner is working long hours, and I’m covered in wallpaper paste and raccoon poop.

Jetpack tells the neighbors about our fosters, and now we’re those weirdo queers with the son who wears dresses and has pet raccoons. I don’t think the neighbors are surprised.

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They transition to kibble and one of them gets mean. He bites me, he bites Jetpack, I freak out. My partner freaks out. After some back and forth with the raccoon rescue, we decide to keep them, even the biter. They’re wild animals, right?

Somewhere between those two paragraphs, I tell my neighbors they’re being racist. They take it about as well as most white people when you call them racist.

Somewhere between those two paragraphs, two organizations I love start to fall apart, but we are knitting them back together.

Raccoons are crafty. They can be mean when they feel threatened. They’re intelligent. They purr and the coo and they scream. They’re destructive and they make excellent parents. They have deft little hands and they eat damn near anything. They survive.

I think I’m getting my raccoon feet under me this summer.

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PHOTO CREDITS: LEVI SABLE

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