One Sunday morning a couple of years ago I came downstairs and noticed a wastebasket overturned. When did the dog do that? I wondered.
My husband, coming down a moment later, saw another overturned wastebasket and called out, “When did she do that?”
A minute later from the kitchen I heard, “This isn’t good.”
I came in to find him looking in a corner at a pile of droppings too big for our tiny dog to have produced it.
Our best guess was that a raccoon had somehow gotten in the house. There was no evidence that it had gotten to the second floor and it was clearly no longer on the first floor. That left the basement.
Neither of us wanted to face an angry raccoon alone, so we crept downstairs together, each clutching a golf club and a flashlight. We tiptoed around the stacks of boxes, shelves and odd abandoned furniture that inhabit our basement, shining the flashlights behind things and poking around with our golf clubs. No raccoon.
After we called pest control, my husband went outside to see if he could see anything and I took care of the Filthy mess on the kitchen floor.
It had rained recently and outside my husband found tiny muddy handprints climbing up a corner of the house.
When Mr. Pest Control showed up he was sure he would find a hole where the raccoon had come in through the attic. But it wasn’t upstairs, we told him. Still he climbed his ladder and went looking around for a hole. My husband finally convinced him to look down the chimney. About halfway down, comfortably wedged and sleeping, was a raccoon.
Mr. Pest Control helped my husband block off the air hole at the bottom of the chimney. (Remember how the unwelcome-guests got in?) The working theory was that the raccoon wouldn’t be able to get back in the house and would climb out the top to look for food. Mr. Pest Control offered to rent us a trap. If we caught it, he said it would be up to us to get rid of it. We paid him for his time on the roof and said goodbye. Then my husband spent the afternoon looking online for natural pest control strategies to discourage our raccoon from climbing back into our warm chimney.
The next morning after my husband left for work, I was walking the dog around the yard when I came to the corner of the house where the raccoon had climbed up. My husband had washed off the muddy handprints, but now there were dark red smears going up four feet.
I pulled out my phone and texted him a picture right away. “I think the raccoon is bleeding!”
A moment later my phone buzzed with his return text. “The raccoon is bleeding hot sauce.”