5 Things A Raccoon Taught Me About Life

How I rescued two orphaned raccoons and the lessons they taught me

5 Things A Raccoon Taught Me About Life
Rusty and Rabie, the two baby raccoons I rescued in 2014.

I grew up on a 27-acre farm in Maryland and spent weekends at our larger farm in West Virginia. There, we had over 200 acres of mountains, a creek, a family (not our family) graveyard, and all the wildlife you could handle.

I spent my childhood making mud pies, playing with Barbie dolls, swinging on tire swings, wading in mountain creeks, and climbing into treehouses. We also rescued every animal that came into our yard.

My mother was Cherokee Indian and said, “You never have to look for an animal, if he needs you, he will find you.”

This is how I grew up.

Back in 2014, a friend of mine was working on a construction job site in the city and called and said he was bringing me a present. In the background, I could hear alien-like noises that didn’t sound like a handful of wildflowers (my favorite) a diamond ring, or a box of chocolates. When I asked him what it was, he laughed and told me to wait and see.

When he came over an hour later, he was carrying two baby raccoons, about three weeks old! They were squealing like banshees! I was terrified of these loud, wild animals until I got a closer look.

They were orphaned, hungry, and about to be put down when my friend intervened.

I did tons of research about baby raccoon care, so I started bottle feeding them, intending to release them when they were 12-14 weeks old.

The next day, I was in love!

I knew they were wild animals, and one could never own a wild animal, could they? I also knew that being wild, they may one day turn on me, so I tried not to get too attached.

I made sure they were warm, had plenty of fresh water, and I would hide food from them so they could learn how to forage on their own once they were released.

As the days went by, I would go out in the yard to check on them and find them high in the trees, and when they heard my voice, they would scurry down to “find” their breakfast I had hidden on the nearby woodpile.

After a couple of months, they had a home in my back yard and on my back porch. They had plenty of land to roam, plenty of fresh water and food, and fruit trees galore! They were in paradise!

I had no idea they would purr like kittens when you pet them, or they would chase a ball like a puppy. They love to be rolled on their backs and have their tummies tickled, just like a dog.

They also hid on the woodpile on my back porch and when I held out my arms and said, "Come to Mama," they would run and jump in my arms. When I said, "Give me kisses," they would nuzzle my chin and give me gentle whisper kisses. It was amazing and incredibly adorable!

In watching these lovable little creatures, I learned some lessons from them I thought pertained to life.

1. Climb High

Always reach for the highest branch and don’t be afraid to take a risk!

2. If You Fall Down-Get Back Up

Sure, you are going to fall down in life, but get up, shake it off and try again.

3. Be Curious

Never lose your sense of curiosity! Always be open to learning more, doing more, and be more adventurous!

4. Be Playful

Always find time to play! Life is to be enjoyed and every day should include some type of playtime. Why are kids the only ones who get to have recess? You are never too old to climb a tree.

5. Grapes Are Good

If there is one thing a raccoon likes to eat, it’s a grape! Eat healthy foods and take care of your body. Grapes are very filling and a delicious snack you can eat anytime.

Sadly, after several months, the raccoons took off on their own. I suppose the “wild” in them took over and they no longer needed me. I miss them and often wonder of their fate but know in my heart I did something good for a helpless animal. I hope the things I taught them helped them in the wild. I know the things they taught me will stay with me a lifetime.

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The Writer Chick
The Writer Chick
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The Writer Chick

Lisa V. Proulx is an award-winning and international bestselling author, an award-winning speaker and storyteller, a publishing consultant, a feature writer and columnist, and the Editor of The Brunswick Herald newspaper in Maryland.

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