Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Okay, a little background first. A client had rescued some infant raccoons from their farm after their mother was apparently too delicious for a coyote to resist, and these little bottle-fed orphans had become quite tame toward their adopting parents. Neutering, the owner reasoned, would give the male a higher likelihood of staying home and being a nicer pet once he was mature, which I believe would be true. Admittedly not-so-up on the anatomy of raccoon genitalia, the owner assured me that the critters little boy parts were right there in plain sight, ready to be taken off. Still, the thought of some wild-eyed creature launching itself out of a cage, teeth and claws first toward my face when I tried to catch it, was enough to make my initial response to the neuter inquiry: "Uhhh..." But after thinking about the fact that at the zoo we were able to safely anesthetize just about anything with nothing more than a box and some inhalant anesthetic, and since it was Saturday night and no one would be at the clinic to object, I figured this sounded too interesting to pass up and said: "Meet me at the clinic in one hour."
I wasn't sure what I would see coming through the door ... it could very well be one of those scenes where the owner is getting thrown around the waiting room trying to hold on to a pet carrier containing a thrashing, hissing, spitting fur ball of fury while insisting: "He's not like this at home, I swear!" Much to the contrary, a heartwarming picture of the human-animal bond presented itself in my office, with a cute fuzzy little critter about the size of a small cat calmly being held like a baby, with no need for a carrier, leash, or anything. This little raccoon was so tame and cute with its dark eyes and ringed tail, that it had all 12 months of any kitten calendar beat hands-down. I decided as a gesture of good faith to reach out and give the little bugger a pat on the head, only to be warned off with some sort of throaty hiss, letting me know that he wanted to keep this strictly a professional doctor-patient relationship ... he had his friends with him, and I was not in his circle of trust. This creature was as smart as he was cute.
Within minutes of breathing the gas anesthetic I drafted into the box we put him in, he was sound asleep, oblivious to the minor (albeit life-changing) procedure I carried out on his boy parts which, as it turned out, was nearly identical to neutering a cat. A very short time after he became the only neutered raccoon in the neighborhood, he was awake, and apparently never missed a beat. We even gave him a rabies vaccination for good measure. His owners assured me that he would be getting a treat for how well he did: "He really likes chocolate ... you should see how he practically does flips for it!"
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