Shortly after my wife and I moved to San Diego, she took to leaving food out for the neighborhood cats.
We lived on the edge of a canyon, and it wasn’t long before the raccoons down there discovered the feast, and invited their friends and families, who all came back with their new kids each spring.
Rocky Raccoon & His Clan
At one point, we counted about 20 “regulars” most nights (their appearance and personalities are unique enough that you can identify individuals after a while).
Contrary to everything we’d ever heard, they were amazingly docile. Most got to the point where they’d rub-up against our legs when we were sitting out back, and ask to be petted (which they didn’t mind one bit). None were ever aggressive to us in any way.
We named the patriarch of the extended clan “Rocky” (most of the other regulars were given names, too).
The second year, we had another surprise visitor join the nightly supper club
Stinky The Skunk
News of our smorgasbord must have spread through the canyon because one night, a skunk showed-up for the party.
Naturally, we called him Stinky, and like the raccoons, he turned-out to be quite a friendly little fella. He let us pet him (without hesitation), and his fur was so soft, it was like petting a mink or a chinchilla. Unlike the raccoons, which have bristly fur, Stinky was always silky — like he’d just had a shampoo.
At first we were surprised that he never “smelled like skunk.” In fact, there was no odor at all on our hands after petting him.
Never once did he spray, or even act as if he might.
In fact, he always acted like a domestic dog, or cat would, getting to the point where he’d encourage our affection & attention.
To be honest, my wife ended-up wishing we could get one as a pet (but that’s not legal in California).
They’re much more outgoing and friendly than cats, and this one at least seemed every bit as smart & loyal as a dog.
Raccoons Meet Skunk & Break Bread Together
It wasn’t long before Rocky and his extended family showed-up at the buffet around the same time Stinky showed-up. We were braced for something bad to happen, but amazingly, they all got-along (for the most part).
That’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of tension at first. The raccoons seemed to have a natural fear of stinky (as if they knew he could unleash a powerful stench), but Stinky accepted them, and they (reluctantly) accepted him.
I’m posting this now because I recently re-discovered all of the old pictures, and even a video. To be honest, I’d forgotten that I even had the video.
In it, yo’ll see some funny interactions.
The raccoons seem constantly aware that they “could” get sprayed, so they’re being extra-cautious.
At the same time, Stinky seems to know he has the upper hand, and keeps his rear-end pointed at the raccoons as they circle the food bowl. But the raccoons never stop trying.
My Wife, “Dr. Doolittle”
At one point in the video (below), you can hear some nasty-sounding growling. That’s Rocky, as he was coming into the yard from the canyon (stage left). It’s his way of saying, “Great – That damn skunk, again?!”
My wife, Polly is truly an animal lover, and somehow manages to communicate with critters on a level I’ve never seen before.
The raccoons & skunk were no exception.
Despite the nasty noises they can make, she showed no fear, and refused to let them argue on our patio.
She’d walk-out to the edge of the canyon, clap her hands loudly, wave her finger, and yell at them, “Be nice, or I’m taking away the food!”
It worked every time.
They’d hang their heads in shame, as if they were saying, “Sorry, Mom,” silently walked past her, and reluctantly joined Stinky at the bottomless bowl of Costco cat food.