August 19, 2012

Raccoons in the Hen House

Right now, as I’m typing this blog, I can hear the baby crying next door. He’s been having a rough week and the mornings have been particularly rough. He wails, unhappy about one thing or another, and his grumpiness sets a tone of unease throughout the immediate neighborhood. It’s not that anything is terribly wrong. His Mom tells me that it’s the small things that set him off — not being able to watch Elmo, watching his parents go off to work and the nanny (who is very patient and sweet) his only entertainment, a dropped toy — and his response (at 2 years old) is so over-exaggerated his parents must work hard not to chuckle at his angst and antics.

His disquiet is, no doubt, partly because none of us slept well last night. First it was the cat with the bell around his neck prancing through our backyards loudly tinkling (as in the bell) setting off all the dogs (including me) into a barking frenzy. (Why is it, I asked myself, that he can roam freely through the neighborhood and I am always confined by a fence or a leash?). And then, if that pesky cat wasn’t enough, the chickens in the neighbor’s backyard coop went into a panic flapping and squawking and frantically bouncing around their hen house.

I barked again (setting off all the other dogs around us) and finally Gretchen got up (it was after midnight), grabbed a flashlight, and headed out to see what on earth was disturbing the chickens. Billy, the neighbor behind us, did the same thing — standing on his porch with a flashlight aimed at the coop while Gretchen stood on the bench on the back porch and aimed hers the same way.

What did I do? I barked because I was left inside and clearly all the excitement was one glass sliding door away from me.

I was not pleased.

The flashlights did not illuminate anything except a few ruffled feathers and the broad leaves of a fig tree. Still, everyone conferred that it was most likely a raccoon — the same raccoons who have been lurking on our fence at night and splashing in the various kiddie pools filled with water in several backyards (ours included…though we emptied ours last night).

I am a Doodle who can never pass up a metaphor, but for the life of me, it’s been hard to figure out the symbolism of a raccoon in a hen house. Not that every circumstance of life needs a metaphor, but in this instance, I kind of feel like my life of the past week deserves a good metaphor and that somewhere in this raccoon/chicken story lurks a good one.

Maybe it’s because my life of late has been a lot of flapping feathers and over-dramatic hysteria. Maybe because I’ve felt like everything is slightly off-kilter — the inability-to-sit-quietly-on-my-perch kind of feeling. Or maybe it’s because it’s always “something” that disturbs the tranquility of my once peaceful, routine life.

Not that my life has been threatened by danger or anything, but the determined mischievousness of the raccoons — the way they can quietly stir up a ruckus — makes me think a lot about how little things (or big) can throw you off your game.

This week it was a combination of events that disturbed my metaphorical hen house. First, the French relatives left for an Alaskan Cruise and while I was promised they would return, I found our house rather empty and lonely.

Next, we experienced quite a heat wave this week, which meant that I didn’t feel much like getting out and about even though my work load was still as full as all the weeks before.

Then Griffey arrived. Griffey is our latest pet sitting dog and at 15 years old, her determined determinism (no other way to explain it) has upset my normal routine. For instance, she hogs the couch and I am forced to sleep on one of my 7 dog beds (Gretchen just bought a new one, which I must admit is far more comfortable than the couch, but symbolically speaking, the couch is the most important position in the house). She sets the schedule for walks and meal time and every evening, struggles with some sundowner senility, which means she gets the massage instead of me.




And speaking of massage, Gretchen met a new client (that I mentioned last week) — an elderly, arthritic dog named Otis — as a new massage client. I’m very happy for Otis because, from what Gretchen tells me, he is a willing sponge for massage and is incredibly sweet, but once again, the senior citizens benefit from Gretchen’s hands while I must wait my turn.


Of course, after seeing Otis’ photo, I can see why Gretchen loves him so. He’s a very handsome boy and he is as willing to lie down for his hour massage as I am — a compliant client is always an attractive client in our books!

And then there’s the cat with his bell taunting me late at night and the raccoons on the fence and then in the hen house. Not to mention the crying baby next door (and the one who lives behind us and the other one who lives across from us) — it’s been a bit of chaos in our lives of late.

Through it all, though I’ve panted alongside my pals on shaded walks with lots of water stops…

Tyson (who really struggles with the hot weather!)…

Monty (who kind of melts in the heat)…

Roux (who slows down a lot quicker when the temperature is in the 90s)…




Woobie (and her friend Skylar…both of whom would rather swim at the lake than walk through the neighborhoods)…

Carter and Callie (who, I am told, drink water from Gretchen’s dog bowl like they’re doing laps in the lake!)…

And of course me and Griffey (who are finding ways to entertain ourselves despite the age difference and the fact that I must always acquiesce to her elderly status)…

(Yes, those are rose petals on Griffey’s head and no, she has no idea they are there…after walking through (as opposed to around) the rose bush!)

In the course of writing this blog, though, the baby next door has quieted down, Griffey has crawled up in the human bed for her morning nap, the chickens are all alive and happily clucking, and I am ready for a nice morning walk (and see if I can scent out that bell-wearing cat!). Chaos is chaos, but I feel lucky to know that it has a beginning and an end…unpredictable as they may be.

Happy Sunday everyone!


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