The fog was blowing through the neighborhood as it often does in the Berkeley Hills. As I park, I wonder how raccoons got in the shower stall. I popped the trunk and grabbed the “come along”. I have gotten some considerable crap from colleagues for using PC language. A City of Berkeley Animal Services Officer (aka Animal Control Officer) had told me that the catch pole was actually called a “come along.” I will leave it alone and get on with the story.
The door to the home was ajar and as I climbed the front steps, an older man appeared in the doorway. He spoke before I had a chance to introduce myself. “I have told the house cleaners to secure the wIndows. They are dears, really, so they were just trying to freshen the air, I’m sure.” He continued, his speech becoming more rapid, “I didn’t know who else to call. I had such a fright! Please come in, come in. The other officers are this way.”
I stepped over the threshold and surveyed the room. Impeccable. The floor was covered with beautiful Persian rugs. The thought of walking across them with my work boots (God knows what was stuck in the tread at the moment) made me cringe.
We got to the bathroom and the officers turn to me, one shrugging and the other trying not to laugh. There they were. Three raccoons busily walking around on the tile floor of the shower stall stopping once in awhile to look at us through the glass.
Ok. Here to solve a problem. Raccoons barricaded in shower. Trapped in shower? What page of policy or procedures covers this? Actually, these kooky calls make the work challenging. We could lock these buggers in there for the night, hope they climb back out the way they… Wait they can’t climb tile. Did they tumble in? One after the other? Like I was saying, solve the problem.
Over the years, we have had these gray wool blankets to give to the homeless on cold nights. I always took a few. I fetched them from the trunk of my patrol car and headed back into the house. My plan was to crack the shower door, slide the come along/catch pole in, get the first one, pull it out of the stall without letting the other two out to wreck havoc in the terrified man’s clean fancy home… Insert breath here — then place the squirming, screaming animal on the homeless blanket. Then the catch pole officer and the blanket officer would dash, drag and slide as fast as they/we could over the wood floor, the Persian rugs, then up and over the threshold and down the front steps where we would set the raccoon free.
We would do this three times. We’ll be out of here in no time. Sure, Mary. Think again. The raccoons kept tucking their chins. Had they been through this before? Were they smarter than we thought? I would dangle that wire loop at the end of the pole close to one of their faces and… Tuck. Try the other raccoon. Tuck. Hover over the group. All Tuck. You gotta be kidding me. I started to laugh. Then I snorted. Yup, a big snort. A pig snort. (pun intended) You know it. That noise that happens when you certainly don’t plan for it or expect it. After awhile, one of the officers said, “They are messing with us. Don’t ya think?!” Yes. This will be a test of wills. Of patience. Of perserverence. We had no choice. This community member was counting on us. We took turns. We changed roles. We tried different angles with the furry tuckers. It took us far longer than expected, but eventually the three raccoons ran off into the night.
As we were bidding good night to the homeowner, one of the officers suddenly ran off. He returned out of breath. “I almost forgot to close that bathroom window!” “Oh my…imagine.”, the man said.