I have a confession.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been blaming certain family members for making mysterious nightly messes in the kitchen. That is, until the real culprit was discovered. And I was shocked by its true identity.
This story begins one evening last month, at around 9:30 PM. I could hear some rustling downstairs — and since my husband was out of town, I hurried downstairs myself to investigate.
I turned on the kitchen light, and saw this:
My first suspicion? It must have been one of my teenage boys. One, because these were snack items that had been torn into shreds — not exactly healthy stuff. And two … because well, teenage boys.
I snapped a quick photo and confronted them about it in the morning — but of course, they both denied it.
Animals! I thought to myself.
But it didn’t end there. Over the next few weeks, I’d awake to find either cracker crumbs or bits of granola left out in the kitchen at least a few more times. Each time, neither of the boys would admit to it.
I was losing my ever-loving mind.
And then, late one night last week, I accidentally stepped on the next clue: A giant bag of dried dog food had been literally ripped to pieces. And while my sons are admittedly going through growth spurts of their own (eating both my husband and I out of house and home in the process), I was pretty sure that they’d draw the line at dog food.
My second suspect? Our sweet 18-year-old Rat Terrier, Luci Loo. And I’ll admit, I was way less harsh on her.
Aww, she ate all of the food in her bowl and was obviously still left hungry, I thought. I’ll fix that.
I promptly transferred her food into a lidded container, so that each time I found our kitchen trash bag torn open, I would just add more food into my ever-so-hungry dog’s bowl. (Voila! Problem-solving at its finest, I thought to myself.)
But then this happened last Thursday:
This curious new scene added two additional clues that somewhat complicated my plot line. Clue #1: Somebody clearly pushed the food off the countertop and onto the floor so they could get into it. Clue #2: That same somebody appeared to have flipped the lid off of the plastic container to get into it.
And while my Luci is talented, she’s not that talented. My mind began to wander …
I started thinking about some other recent developments, like the fact that Luci had been barking at her doggie door repeatedly, and without explanation. Just one new spontaneous behavior to add to the list of recent changes she’s been undergoing, I thought. Like she’s been peeing all over the cement patio lately, instead of the grass.
It must be some kind of doggy dementia, I decided. She is a senior citizen canine, after all.
Looking back now, I should have seen the signs. I would have seen the doggie door and the pee stains and all the nightly messes as clues that obviously pointed to something else. But, I didn’t. (Apparently, I should have read more Nancy Drew books as a kid, because I am certainly no detective.)
At this point, after blaming both my sons and my dog for weeks on end, I was officially out of suspects. Who in the WORLD was destroying my kitchen night after night?
Less than an hour later, my husband woke me up out of a dead sleep.
Cori, wake up! he yelled to me from downstairs.
This was it — he’d finally figured out the mystery that had been plaguing our home for weeks. And he’d caught the culprit red-handed, too, while staying up late watching TV.
It wasn’t our ravenous teenage boys.
It wasn’t our 18-year-old, partially deaf dog, either.
In fact, it wasn’t a family member at all.
But it was big. And it was terrifying. And it was back for more.
Yes — it was a raccoon. A devious, take-no-prisoners, unapologetic RACCOON.
Apparently, he’d been sneaking in through our doggy door each week, and helping himself to all the snacks and dog food he could handle. I shuddered to think of what else his little raccoon fingers had gotten into.
When my husband first saw it, he scared it back outside and blocked the doggy door. Then, he peered out the glass sliding door, and saw it literally staring him down from its territorial pee spot on the concrete. As if to say, “Bring it.”
Needless to say, that doggy door is now sealed shut and my kids have since been apologized to.
And for the time being, our little raccoon friend has not returned (successfully) for more, either.
But if he does … I’ll be ready.