The Raccoon That Selected His Own Friend

Years ago my Mother and Dad retired to a cottage overlooking the Potmac River in Placid Bay, Virginia. The scene was one of the most beautiful views on the Potomac River where you could see for miles. Their place overlooked the Harbor View Yacht Club and we could sit in their living room and watch the boats come into the Yacht Club at night.

It was a busy place especially in the summer and on holidays. There were some magnificent big house-boats, sail-boats, and other types of boats that docked there to spend the week-end; and at night the water came to life with sparkling lights bobbing on the water like a small village. 

One day my Dad visted his favorite pier close-by the house to fish for his favorite fish the crappy. He had gotten settled on the pier and was sitting there watching as all types of small fish came to the surface of the water to get a good look at him.

Dad didn’t want anyone to catch "his" gold fish and every time anyone would be at the pier he would approach them to say, "Hey, don’t hook those gold fish, and if you do, please toss them back in," he cherished the gold fish and he didn’t want them to be caught. We looked any day for someone to tell him to mind his own business.

Dad would cast his line out and get a few good nibbles but he just couldn’t hook anything this particular day. He was interested in watching his pole when a beautiful raccoon came up to sit down beside him. When Dad finally noticed it was sitting there, he sat still because he wanted to see what the raccoon wanted. The little critter was looking for a friend and Dad happened to be the chosen one. He was the friendliest little critter you’ve ever seen.

Dad finally got a bite that took his line bobbling through the water, he jerked and hooked what he thought was a fish. He reeled and then gave it some slack and continued reeling until he got it in. He couldn’t believe what he saw, "A small snapping turtle hanging on his hook."

Mr. Raccoon put his small paws over his eyes as if to say, "Don’t you dare keep that snapping turtle, it belongs to the river, this is its home."

Dad unhooked the turtle and the two of them took it to a shallow part of the river to return it back into the water. He allowed Mr. Raccoon to smell the turtle before he released it back into the water. The raccoon followed behind Dad’s every step and they began a friendship that lasted for several years. 

Mr. Raccoon had class…he had the most beautiful markings distinguishing him as one of the rivers most striking creatures walking the banks of the Potomac River.

Mr. Raccoon looked like a bandit sitting there with Dad as they fished. He’d sit looking down into the water for hours with tiny paws dipping in as the fish surface to the top. He’d never catch anything but it was great watching him try to.

When Dad would catch a fish, Mr. Raccoon had to inspect it and then smell it. They fished from the pier and river-banks for years and they loved every minute of it. When the raccoon would get tired he’d put his tiny paws over his mask like he was hiding them from the light. He was an adorable little bandit anyone would be proud of.

One day Dad heard a noise at the sliding glass doors and he looked up to see Mr. Raccoon gawking in the door at him and trying to pry it open. He could not believe his eyes and he wondered how in the world the raccoon knew where he lived? Dad yelled, "Mother, Mother, come here to see who has come to visit us!"

Mr. Raccoon had missed Dad and he came to see where he was. Dad slid the door open and Mr. Raccoon walked in like he’d been visiting for years. He came to Dad immediately and began rubbing his body on his legs. He stayed with Dad several hours before wanting to leave and before he left he rubbed himself all over Dad’s legs again. 

Oh what a beautiful critter he was and he was as intelligent as he was handsome. His special featured bandit mask was unbelievable and Dad found himself in love with him. He felt the little critter had wanted him as a friend at a special time and a place and he loved him. 

The news got around the small boating community about the raccoon that had taken up with a man in their town. Mr. Raccoon began to return repeatedly and it got so it was a routine.

Dad decided to put in a doggie door that Mr. Raccoon could come in and go as he pleased, and before long, Mother had fixed him a bed in the corner hallway. He became their best friend and their love for him was beyond telling anyone.

He’d eat his dog food breakfast at the house before he would leave to hunt in the mornings. Raccoons get wet and dirty and it takes a lot of patience and cleaning up to keep them clean and with no mess in the house. They’re agressive, destructive and temperamental , and they don’t want to be bossed. If they love you, they’ll not try to attack you, but if they don’t, look out.

Mother had to put child locks on all the kitchen cabinet doors, vanities, etc., because Mr. Raccoon would scavenger into everything in the house. His tiny paws were like hands pilfering through anything and everything. Raccoons love toys just like cats and dogs and they’ll try to sleep in your bed too.

They also love different types of foods, i.e., fish, poultry, vegetables, and they love desert too. They’re knowledgeable and trainable too and they can be great pets but best if they’re outdoor pets.

Mother’s health got bad and they had to do something about Mr. Raccoon. They decided to take out the doggie dog and allow Mr. Raccoon to return to the wild. It was a sad place around there for more than a month, the raccoon would stay on the porch for hours trying to get inside to Dad. 

One day Dad was sitting on the pier fishing and a few trappers came by to see what he had caught and they showed Dad their trappings. When Dad saw they had Mr. Raccoon among their trappings, tears swelled up in his eyes and ran down his cheeks…he couldn’ speak for a few minutes, and he looked up at the trappers, and said, "Men you’ve killed the best pal I’ve ever had. This little critter has fished with me for years. He was my best friend. Look he has on the flea collar I put on him."  

Dad was uncontrollable for a long time and he cried daily about Mr. Raccoon. He grieved over Mr. Raccoon until the day he died and he never forgave himself for putting the raccoon back into the wild. 

The writer of this short story is Barbara Kasey Smith and it is an actual story of a happening in her life.