Barks in the Night

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1:30 a.m. Deep sleep for the first time in a week. Barking. Barking. Barking. As I gradually swim back to consciousness, I realize this is not just making-noise barking. There’s something out in the yard. Fresh from our recent bear sighting, I peel myself off the sheets and hurry barefoot to the door.
I can’t see Annie, but I hear her doing her fiercest I’m-going-to-kill-you bark. Oh, Lord.
It’s dark, clouds obscuring any moon or stars. I can’t see anything, but Annie is under the table at the west end of the deck. Between barks, I hear something else, something growling. “Annie,” I say, “we’re not alone out here.” Bark.
I run back in to get the big flashlight and shine it around. Finally, I see something moving through the deck railing. I grab Annie and drag her into the house, then come back out to take a closer look. A raccoon stares at me, its eyes shining in the flashlight. It appears to be caught between the deck and the chain link fence of the dog pen. These days, weeds and berries have grown so thick that nothing can move in there. If it can’t get out on its own, I don’t know what to do.
I go back in, telling Annie to sleep on the sofa where she dozes most of the time. But no, she wants to share my bed. It’s like having an elephant in the bed, a panting, stinky-breathed, sharp-clawed elephant who wants to lie on top of you with its feet in your face. Pretty soon I kick her out and take another look in the backyard.
My flashlight catches the raccoon hanging off the fence, its feet clinging to the chain link, its head facing downward. Swell. I go back to bed, ordering the dog to sleep on the couch, shutting my door so I can go peacefully back to dreamland. I hear Annie pacing outside my door and decide to ignore her until daylight.
My dreams are a blend of raccoons in the yard and The Bachelorette TV show for which I just watched the three-hour finale. She chose J.P., broke Ben’s heart, walked hand in hand into the sunset.
6:30 a.m. Daylight. Cloudy and still. Annie is waiting at the door. No way am I keeping her in now. We both hurry to where we last saw the raccoon.
It’s gone. Whew. Nothing but weeds in there. Annie sniffs at the fence and deck, then jumps down to the grass and sniffs the whole yard while I go back to bed and try to sleep. No go.I’m awake.
Time for orange juice for me and Kibbles and Bits for the dog. As she does her breakfast dance, I see that she has two shallow scratches on her nose. We didn’t imagine it; the raccoon was here. For both our sakes, I hope it doesn’t come back.
Thank God it wasn’t the bear.

More Oregon adventures can be found in Shoes Full of Sand, my new book, available in paperback and ebook form. Click here for details.
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