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The Life & Times of Rocky Raccoon
 by Jan Rifkinson   

"Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy"

Jan, "come here NOW" Carol said in a no-nonsense tone (I tend to dawdle) so I ran towards her voice. "Truman is barking @ an animal, he may have it cornered."  (Shades of Pound Ridge & Burton cornering a really frightened opossum with huge claws years before entered both our consciousness.)

I looked out on the lawn, pitch black, and stupidly ran towards a decidedly different bark. And in the dark I could sort of see Truman circling an unfortunate raccoon, Truman just looking for an opening, barking, barking, barking. (Thoughts of our herding experience  flooded my mind.)

"No, Truman" I yelled in my most authoritative tone.  A quick, dismissive glance from Truman was all I got for my effort.  I tried again.  "Forget it", "Leave it" quickly followed, also without result.

Now part of Truman's inattentiveness has to fall @ Rocky's feet because he charged Truman a few times which only intensified Truman's resolve. We all know by now that Truman doesn't back off.  But the fact remains Truman wasn't giving me much respect.

Poor Rocky now had a 2nd challenge -- me.

As I thought about herding sheep,  I realized I was in the wrong position. This raccoon was not about the follow me.  Think of a circle -- diameter about 4 feet -- Truman on one side, me on the other, Rocky in the middle looking first @ Truman then @ me -- back & forth like watching a tennis match.  Could I apply what I learned @ the NAWBA herding clinic to this situation? Probably not.

"Carol, get me a stick, mop or broom" I called out keeping one eye on Rocky, the other on Truman, trying to call him off, Rocky charging & retreating, looking first @ Truman then @ me -- back & forth.

I was frustrated, afraid for both Truman & Rocky Raccoon, angry, impotent @ my lack of control over Truman while his testosterone flowed.

I tried moving around the invisible circle to be next to Truman thinking that maybe we could both drive the raccoon off but the other participants changed position so the net result remained the same -- me on one side, Truman on the other, Rocky in the middle.

Carol arrived with a "spiffy" dust mop handle which I tried to wield as a herding crook, trying to reach over Rocky, pointing it @ Truman, attempting to get him to retreat, back off, lie down, anything.  And, although, I was making very slight progress with Truman, Rocky decided any hesitation in Truman's attack provided a good opening to charge.  Finally, in desperation, I swung the mop handle in the direction of the raccoon, thinking I could jump out of the way if he charged me, but like a golfer who had just teed off, I instinctively looked down the green to see where the ball was going & in that split second, Truman managed to get into the circle and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him carrying his prey off by the scruff of the neck to another part of our 2+ acre lawn.

I raced after him, screaming "drop it" -- a command we successfully use when fetching the newspaper or carrying groceries from the car to the kitchen.  To my surprise he did and poor Rocky lay there, quivering slightly.  Was he seriously injured, was he just scared stiff as I had seen when Ruben brought us a live rabbit years before?

"Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said "Rocky you met your match"
And Rocky said, "Doc it's only a scratch
And I'll be better, I'll be better doc as soon as
I am able"

I kept Truman @ bay & finally got him into the house.  Then I went back out to check on Rocky. As I stood there grazing @ his poor little body -- no signs of blood -- he began to shake & then he was quiet.  I left him where he lay. 

"Now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival"

But that was not to be.

It was cold & rainy that night so I did nothing but, early the next morning, with Rocky still lying in the same spot, I placed him in a plastic bag & removed him from the scene -- stiff as a board. Then I let Truman out but he seemed to have forgotten all about poor Rocky & went about his normal routine of checking the fence lines for any sort of intruder.

I called Ridgefield's K9 officer to report the incident because I wanted to know about rabies. He instructed me to pack Rocky on ice & said he would courier him to the state capitol where an autopsy would be performed.  Until then, Truman was to be quarantined.

I hadn't noticed any strange behavior on the part of the raccoon & I watched Truman like a hawk for signs of *anything* unusual.  He seemed fine but I wasn't about to take any chances. We cancelled our trip to the BONE (Bouvier of North East) event that weekend & I kept Truman in sight at all times.  He ate normally. He drank normally.  He eliminated normally.  He maintained his habits & attitude.  He was alert & playful.

My concerns about over-vaccination caused me some reflection.  I titer Truman for most things & vaccinate him against rabies every two years with a three year booster.  Was he still protected?  I had heard about rabid raccoons but what else could they carry?  What kind of contact had there been in that split second when Truman attacked, killed & carried off his prey?  Then I thought about Sabrina, Sam & finally Carol & myself.

Several days later, the K9 officer called to tell me that the raccoon had tested negative for rabies.  Whew.

Now I'm even more determined to gain control over Truman @ times of "high energy".  Herding, agility, Schutzhund, ring, obedience?  Don't know.

I hope the Beatles will forgive me.

Jan Rifkinson

JanRif, Truman & Sabrina
Ridgefield, CT
ICQ 41116329

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