“Girls! Girls! Come out here, quick!” My mom shouted at my sister, Roxanne and me from the living room.
We darted from our playroom and rushed to the window my mom was staring out.
Outside was a gnarly raccoon, crawling on a bale of hay.
“That’s odd; they’re supposed to be nocturnal. They should only be out at night,” my mother said as the creature disappeared.
“Maybe it thinks it’s night since it’s so dark and gray outside,” I said confidently, unable to grasp a full concept of a nocturnal animal at such a young age.
Sometime later, and no sign of the raccoon, Mom took my grandparents’ Rottweiler Tiffany, who we were babysitting, outside.
Tiffany and Mom began to wander to the back of the house, but when they came around the back corner, the raccoon was there.
Instead of fleeing, the grimy and matted-haired raccoon charged at my mother and the Rottweiler that easily weighed 80 pounds.
Wasting no time, Mom spun around and started sprinting back to the house. Tiffany stood her ground.
Tiffany was always a protective dog.
Only adopted a few months before I was born, she treated Roxanne and me like we were her puppies.
She even bit my grandfather once when she mistook a tickle fight for an attack.
Mom heard Tiffany and the raccoon fighting, and she began calling and calling her name, desperately trying to get her away from the deranged animal.
And Tiffany, being such an obedient dog, finally broke away from the raccoon and quickly caught up to Mom.
Once inside, we found Tiffany to be covered in blood and with no idea who the blood belonged to.
Mom, Roxanne and I all huddled around Tiffany, examining her for wounds.
But before we even had enough time to recover, a loud scratching rang from under the house. The raccoon was trying to break into the house.
Our house had a crawl space that ran from one side of the living room to the other. Recently renovated, we had a flexible duct work that the animal was tearing to shreds with the hope of finding an entrance.
And then the heating vent started to lift up.
The raccoon had torn away enough duct work to push the heating vent out of the floor.
Mom called my dad, who was taking an exam and too far away to help us in time as the heat vent continued to lift.
Nothing would scare the lunatic away.
Mom started banging on the vent with a spoon, Tiffany was barking and everyone was screaming.
Mom hurried us into her bedroom with Tiffany to guard us.
“Do not leave this room,” she said standing sternly over the heating vent, and she closed the door.
Frantic, my mother called our friend Bill, who owned the fish store next to our house.
“I’ll come hit it with a shovel,” he said casually and completely underestimating the gravity of the situation.
After the second frantic phone call, he brought his shot gun.
Before he arrived, the raccoon from Hell had disappeared. Mom and Bill went outside to search for the creature.
And once again, as they came around the back corner of the house, the raccoon charged at them from its hiding space in the basement stairs. Bill took aim and shot.
Later that evening, animal control found the dead raccoon in my sister’s and my favorite playhouse. The officer lifted the animal by its tail and inhaled a long sniff.
After seeing the disturbed look on Mom’s face, he explained that rabid raccoons tend to smell like cabbage after death.
Although the raccoon did not smell like cabbage that night, test results proved the raccoon was rabid.
Tiffany was, thankfully, up-to-date on her rabies vaccinations and was not injured.
The whole family had to receive rabies vaccines, and nearly all of the duct work had to be replaced.
And, to top it all off, we had to toss our playhouse as a precaution since the virus can live in the dark for quite some time.