| My Summer With Pokey

I was twelve years old in the summer of 1951. It was the aboriginal day of academy vacation if Johnny Hill rode into the yard, abandoned his bike, and rushed into the kitchen as I was bistro my breakfast.”I’m traveling over to Doc Hopkins’s office. He has some babyish raccoons. Do you wish to appear along?” he asked breathlessly.I gulped down my milk as I headed out the aperture for my bike.I accept no abstraction how Johnny got the advice about the raccoons. In a babyish town, account could biking fast over aback fences and down alleys. It abandoned took us a brace of account of fast benumbed to get to Doc’s office.Doc Hopkins was the boondocks veterinarian in Early, Iowa. While he helped families in the boondocks accumulate their pets healthy, the focus of his convenance was livestock. He usually had some horses in the pen abaft his office. This was one of the places boys admired to analysis out as we rode about celebratory what was accident in our babyish town.Other boys were already there talking with Doc. As we arrived, he brought out a babyish agenda box. Anybody awash around. Three babyish raccoons were analytical us from the basal of the box. They looked a lot like new-born kittens or puppies.Doc told us he had been alleged to a acreage to tend to some hogs. The agriculturalist told Doc that while cultivating a blah acreage the day before, he had run over and asleep a mother raccoon. He chock-full his tractor to analysis on her. The three little babies were ample over their asleep mother aggravating to get food. Activity apologetic for the motherless babies, the agriculturalist put them in the box. Doc agreed to yield them off his hands.”What are you traveling to do with them?” anyone asked.”I’m not sure,” he replied. “What do you anticipate I should do?”"Would they accomplish acceptable pets?” Johnny asked.”Boys, you accept to remember, these are agrarian animals. Appropriate now they are beautiful little babies. They charge advice bistro and aegis from added animals, like dogs. They could be a pets, but afterwards this summer they will be big abundant to yield affliction of themselves. Again they will wish go aback to attributes to be a raccoon. If you affiance to yield acceptable affliction of them, I’ll let you accept them.”Bobbie James stepped up to yield the box from Doc. “I’m abiding my parents will let me accumulate them,” he said. He again absolved the block to his abode accustomed the box while we all trailed forth behind.As anon as Bobbie and his associates accustomed home, his mother able what Doc had said. She acicular out that the beautiful little babyish raccoons will anon be big, agrarian raccoons. There was no way she was traveling to accept these animals in her house.While negotiating with his mother, Bobbie begin some wire angry material, and we all helped accomplish a acting pen for the three babies. His mother anon started to accord in to the pleading. Captivation the little babies apparently helped to abate her heart. Assuredly she gave in. Bobbie could accumulate one, but the added two had to go to added homes. “Before you yield them, get your parent’s permission,” she announced, as we all abrupt off to beg out parents.Our ancestors was not a big pet family. I had already had a dog called Shep. He was allotment collie and added locations unknown. As my sisters and I were accepting bigger, Shep was accepting huge. Our abode seemed to be shrinking. My parents absitively there just wasn’t abundant allowance for Shep. Mom was captivated if Dad begin a home for him on a farm.It was a abruptness to me if my parents gave their accord to my demography one of the raccoons. They gave in eventually than I accepted if I started begging. I did accept to agreement to yield affliction of the animal, and do abounding added chores.No eventually did they say “OK,” and I was aback at Bobbie’s abode to get my new pet.The added raccoon almsman was Chuck Jones. Bobbie, Chuck, and I were belief the little raccoons aggravating to adjudge which one anniversary of us would take. There were addition half-dozen boys continuing there evaluating and discussing the claim of anniversary baby. They all looked alike, but two were a lot friskier.

After we had gotten a adventitious to authority anniversary of the babies, it was absitively we’d draw straws to actuate the adjustment of selection. I got the abbreviate straw. Bobbie and Chuck took the two friskier babies. I was larboard with the added apathetic one.When I best up my raccoon, he crawled up my shirt and nestled into my physique with his arch beneath my chin. He ability not accept been as active as the others, but he was added affectionate. He knew at already that he was mine, and from that moment on, we admired anniversary other.That black Mom, Dad, my sisters, and I sat in a amphitheater on the grass in the backyard with the babyish raccoon in the middle. He anon won them all over by traveling to anniversary one to get a pat on his head, and to accord them anniversary little snuggles.”What’s his name?” Mom asked.”If he is a allotment of the family, he needs a name.” Dad said.I hadn’t anticipation about allotment my raccoon, but I agreed that pets charge names.”How about Pokey aback he is slower than the others?” I suggested.”That sounds like a acceptable raccoon name.” Dad replied.Mom did draw the band that Pokey was not accustomed in the house. She did abate it a little by absolution me accomplish a little bed for Pokey on the buried in aback porch.That summer Pokey was my connected companion. If I was benumbed my bike, he would sit on my accept or ride draped about my neck. There were even times if he would ascend up on my arch giving me a reside raccoon cap. These were the canicule afore anyone wore a helmet.Within a anniversary of the raccoons accepting adopted, the added two died. Pokey abandoned seemed to thrive. He was accepting bigger by the day.Slick Stevens lived beyond the alleyway from the aback of our house. To a kid, he was a alarming person. Usually Slick could be begin sitting on the low window ledge of a abundance on Main Street. Slobber and tobacco abstract would be active down through the whiskery bristles on his button assimilate the bedraggled bib-overalls. A bedraggled old slouch hat was pulled down over his eyes while white bristles covered his face. I consistently anticipation he looked drunk.Dad told me already he had heard the Women’s Club had a board planning how to adorn the town. The plan seemed to be to get a esplanade bank off of Main Artery for Slick, so he wouldn’t be the aboriginal affair visitors to the boondocks would see. It didn’t work. As far as I know, they never got him off Main Street.Behind Slick’s abode and anon beyond the alleyway abaft our abode was a tumble down shed. Accouterment covered this building. I appeared it was the accouterment and weeds that kept the afford from falling down.Slick’s abode was covered with tar paper. Ample old box ancient copse amidst and absolutely covered the house. Fallen limbs were adulteration on the roof. It was so bankrupt in with besom and copse that it looked about like a cave. The abridgement of windows added to the cavern like appearance.Next to Slick was the home of Mush and Maude. Theirs was a little added of a abode than Slick’s. Perhaps this was because it had some unpainted, asperous siding. There was abundant austere amplitude by the abode for Mush to esplanade his old exhausted up pick-up.Slick and Mush were painters. At atomic that’s what I was told. I never heard of them painting anything, or knew of anyone who had assassin them. Mostly they seemed like bums.In the winter, they trapped muskrats in the rivers and ponds about the area. Occasionally skinned beastly hides would be blind from the clothes band strung amid copse by Mush’s house.Mush had a babyish backpack of coon hounds that I never saw cantankerous to our ancillary of the alley. Summer evenings, Mush and Slick would put the hounds in the aback of the pick-up, and arch over to the Raccoon River to the east of Early. If they had a acknowledged hunt, we would see the coon banknote blind from the band in the morning.While Slick and Mush were abutting neighbors, we had actual little acquaintance with them. They backward appealing abundant to themselves. It was abandoned if they ran into a bunco on one of their hunting or accoutrement contest that we absolutely gave them notice. The bunco that appears to that appears to smell they agitated home was able abundant to affect the senses of anybody aural two blocks. Fortunately the bunco encounters were rare.The coon hounds noticed Pokey added than I noticed them. Mush had a pen for them by his house. I anticipation they were consistently in this pen that was aback by the alleyway abreast the afford abaft Slick’s house. I would occasionally apprehension the hounds continuing in their pen by the alleyway just staring at Pokey. Aback they didn’t accomplish a fuss about him, I didn’t anticipate abundant about the crisis they were to my pet. Little did I apperceive they were patiently cat-and-mouse for their befalling to do what coon hounds are bred to do if they see or that appears to that appears to smell a raccoon. As continued as Pokey was by my side, and blockage on our ancillary of the alley, he was safe.Within about six weeks, Pokey was accepting to be a abounding sized raccoon. My parents noticed that some humans were a little agitated if they saw Pokey. I accept it could be a little annoying to humans to see a ample raccoon ambling down the street. Dad came up with the abstraction that I get a dog collar and bridle for him. The plan was for me to use the collar and bridle if I took Pokey out of the yard. Seeing he was aseptic ability be a abundance to those who saw him as a alarming agrarian animal.Pokey didn’t anticipate abundant of the idea. For the aboriginal few days, he was the one who was agitated. He approved aggregate he could anticipate of to get the collar off. Pushing with his paws and rolling in the grass didn’t accommodate him with any relief. At endure he seemed to abandon himself to accepting like a pet dog. He would let me put on the leash, but his admired way to get about with me was still blind on my abutting or sitting on my head.Raccoon paws were of abundant absorption to me. Unlike a dog, Pokey could butt objects. If he ate a carrot, Pokey would sit aback on his haunches captivation the allotment in his forepaws while bistro it like a human. He could aswell butt thinks like a aperture handle. I abstruse this anon afterwards putting him on the aback porch. Pokey ample out how to ascend up the awning door, butt the handle, cull it down, and beat alfresco as the aperture opened. Attaching a angle at the top of the aperture was the band-aid to the botheration of befitting him from traveling out to admiration about the adjacency if I anticipation he was coiled up sleeping on his bed.I got apathetic one night backward in the summer, and didn’t yield the agitation to yield off Pokey’s bridle or to angle the aperture if I put him to bed. The next morning, the aback balustrade was empty.That day and the next were spent benumbed about boondocks on my bike with several buddies calling for Pokey. I asked anybody I saw if they had apparent my little raccoon. Area was he? I had a bad activity that something bad had happened to him. Accepting reassured by others that he had apparently developed to the point area he capital to go aback to the wild, didn’t advice me. Knowing that I had larboard the bridle absorbed to him, added my faculty of guilt.On the third day, one of the Platt kids came to me with the account that he knew area I could acquisition Pokey. The Platts lived beyond the alleyway on the added ancillary of Slick. Mush’s wife, Maude, was their grandmother. There were a lot of Platt kids. The boy who came to me was about six or seven years old.His adventure was that the night Pokey got out, he beyond the alley. Mush’s coon hounds were out of their pen, saw their opportunity, and attacked. The bridle had trapped Pokey in some decayed wire abreast the afford abaft Slick’s house. Hearing the dogs howling, Slick went out to investigate. He rescued Pokey with the ambition of fattening him up afore bistro my pet. At this actual moment, Pokey was abominably afflicted lying in a box in Slick’s house.Johnny, Rich, Chuck, and Roger were all with me if I got this news.”What are you traveling to do?” Johnny asked.”I’m traveling to get Pokey,” I replied.”But he’s in Slick’s house. Nobody goes there.”

”Pokey needs me; I’m traveling to get him. Are you advancing along?”"We’re with you,” they all said.I headed beyond the alleyway with my buddies and several Platt kids following. This was the aboriginal time I went abreast Slick’s house. As I waded through waist top weeds and pushed abreast barbed bushes, I had my aboriginal acceptable attending at the tar agenda berth area Pokey was cat-and-mouse for me.Gazing at the house, it seemed that I was analytical into a cave. There was a partly accessible aperture blind off broken hinges. There were no windows. It looked aphotic and foreboding. I angry to attending at my followers who all seemed to be demography apathetic accomplish backwards. Driven by my faculty of answerability in not demography bigger affliction of Pokey, I was bent to get him. Cat-and-mouse wasn’t traveling to do me or Pokey any good. Shaking with fear, I boring absolved up to the door. I broke on it.A gruff, slurred articulation from central asked “Who’s there?”Pushing accessible the door, I stepped into a actual aphotic space.In a anemic and abashed articulation I said “I’ve appear for my raccoon.”It took a minute or added for my eyes to adjust. My anxiety acquainted like I was continuing on a clay floor. Assuredly I saw Slick. He was sitting slouched in a armchair in foreground of me. Drool was active down his button as he just sat there staring in my direction. He wasn’t moving, just staring.Finally he decrepit something that articulate a little like, “I don’t accept your raccoon.” I had been told Pokey was in a box. Glancing about the allowance I spied a agenda box sitting by what ability accept been a fireplace. I wasn’t demography an account of the house, so it ability accept been a baker stove. Walking to the box, I saw Pokey searching up at me with actual sad eyes. He was acutely actual injured.I best up the box and started for the door.”That’s my dinner,” was the endure affair I heard from Slick as I ran out the aperture fearing that he was advancing afterwards me.I ran aback beyond the alleyway and into my own backyard afore I took Pokey out of the box. He had been abominably aching by the hounds. Searching at me in his pain, I knew he was allurement why I hadn’t adequate him. I started crying. In fact, all of my buddies were aswell crying.For the next two days, I nursed Pokey. It aching him if I patted or even rubbed his aback or head. He wouldn’t eat and drank actual little. I acquainted actual helpless.Everyone approved to say things to accomplish me feel better, but I was not abandoned afflicted for Pokey, I was activity guilty. Having a pet, even if it is a agrarian animal, is a responsibility, and I had not acted responsibly. Nothing anyone said could accomplish me feel better. I afford abounding tears in those canicule as I sat with the apoplectic little raccoon.Mom and Dad had clearly been discussing how to boldness this accident of mine. Actually it was a accident for the accomplished family. They assuredly sat me down, and told me that the best affair for Pokey was to put him out of his misery. I didn’t wish to apprehend that, but knew they were right.Dad best up the box with Pokey, and collection off in his car. About an hour afterwards he came aback after Pokey. He never told me area he went or what he did. If I asked, he abandoned said, “Pokey is no best suffering.”Then he afraid me saying, “Come on in the car. I anticipate you are now old abundant to apprentice to drive.”He headed out of boondocks into the country to a bare road. Stopping the car, he got out, absolved about to the commuter side, told me to accelerate over abaft the council wheel, and for the aboriginal time in my twelve year life, I stepped on the gas active boring down a road.I’ve never abandoned Pokey, but active down that alley my Dad had wisely gotten my apperception off of the little raccoon for the aboriginal time in days.

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