Neither a bird nor a plane

The pansies in the planter were getting pretty scraggly, and their glory days were clearly over.

6-25 Page 4A.inddIt was a pleasant afternoon, and I began taking them out of the planter and replacing them with coleus and begonias. The dogs were sprawled, relaxing in sunny spots in the grass around me.

They looked asleep but apparently were just resting their eyes as some noise, too faint for human ears, galvanized them into alertness.

All five sprinted to the nearby dogwood tree and stood at attention beneath it, looking up and barking. Clearly there was something going on. At first I assumed they’d spotted a squirrel, although those nut collectors aren’t often seen in dogwoods. I then thought it possible a bird family was nesting in the branches. Red Dog doesn’t think birds should invade the sanctuary of his yard and does his best to discourage them.

As they can fly and he cannot, his efforts are not successful. But he continues to try.

The dogs began circling the base of the dogwood. Toby, the Chihuahua, wasn’t circling. He was jumping up and down like a pogo stick. The bristles were raised on his neck, and his voice had entered the realm of the sound barrier. He had worked himself up into the “had a fit and fell in it stage.”

Kewpie and Diablo began bouncing off the tree trunk. Sebastian would have done this too if he were able. But he is not.

Finally I spotted the cause of this disturbance. Curled in the croft of the tree was what at first looked like a Persian cat. The coloring was a little unusual for a Persian, almost a brindle, something I’ve never seen in the cat family.

And then what appeared to be a small black hand stuck out. There was a long, thick, fluffy ringed tail curled around the creature’s head. Then I saw the black mask around the eyes and understood at last that we were entertaining a raccoon.

It wasn’t a large raccoon, but looked to be a teenager. It stayed perfectly still.

I ran into the house and grabbed the camera and got as close as I dared to the base of the tree and took several pictures. Then I took pity on him and returned to the planter.

The dogs remained interested for some time. Toby barked until he exhausted himself, and then they returned to supervise the planting.

Later in the day, they forgot about the raccoon and pursued other interests in the edge of the woods.

After everyone was settled for the evening to sleep the sleep of the just, I hoped the raccoon would have a chance to slip away.

All slept soundly. The next morning, I strolled outside with a cup of coffee to check the tree.

Happily, our guest had departed. Although I knew the dogs would be disappointed, it was for the best. I hope the little raccoon is snugly asleep somewhere safely in the woods away from his sworn canine enemies.

I was relieved our guest hadn’t had direct contact with the pack. Although they talk a good game, I’m not sure what the final results of a confrontation would have been.

All’s well that ends well.