Believe it or. not, this story is completely true.
| THE LEGEND OF JAKE AND RACCY|
There were differences between Jake and Raccy, of course, starting with the fact we got Jake first. One was also a dog, the other a raccoon, but those details didn’t seem to matter. At least not to them.
Raccy’s cage stood on a big table in the garage and, as revered as Jake was, that’s also where he slept. Daddy had learned to love Jake, but he still believed animals should not live in houses. Houses were for people. We invited Jake in from time to time, but Raccy had to stay in his cage unless Mama took him out. He still didn’t get to come inside; Jake was housetrained, Raccy was not.
Even though they could only play when Mama had Raccy out, they must have formulated a form of communication when we weren’t around. Somehow, and we never did know how, Jake, the beautiful, responsible, well-behaved dog, and Raccy, the cute, mischievous, semi-wild raccoon, struck up a friendship. It didn’t take long for their friendship to become legendary.
Only a couple of months had passed before Raccy figured out how to open his cage door. Luckily, we were all outside the first time he did. Mama was able to cram him back into the cage before he got all the way out, and she stayed in front of the door, scolding him, while her eyes roamed the garage, looking for a piece of wire long enough to twist around the latch. Dee Dee found one and Mama secured the door. She thought that would do the trick.
And it did, for a few weeks.
Since Mama worked all day, we always had a babysitter looking after us. We tended to not keep them very long, because some of us kids were also semi-wild, so I can’t remember who was there the day the call came in. All I remember is, after hearing the story, the babysitter gave the caller Mama’s work number.
“Mrs. Prescott?” asked the woman on the other end of the line.
“Yes, this is Thelma Prescott.”
“This is Joyce Allen. I live a couple of blocks over from you, and I have a story you need to hear.”
Mama drew in a deep breath and stiffened her spine. She leaned her head back, and placed fingertips to forehead, prepared to receive an earful. This wasn’t the first call to her office. What was the hair-brained scheme involving her children this time? A call to her office usually meant a spanking when she got home.
But her eyes widened when she listened to the story even she had trouble believing.
Raccy, had somehow let himself out of the cage Mama thought was securely wired. Then he wandered off, into the neighborhood. The babysitter hadn’t noticed the empty cage with the door hanging open. No one could blame her, though. Babysitters didn’t have anything to do with Raccy. They were afraid of him.
Jake, however, did find Raccy missing and decided to take matters into his own paws. Neither the gate nor the fence was tall enough to keep Jake in the backyard. He stayed inside them because he was an obedient dog. Raccy had put him in a bad spot. Did he stay home, gambling that Raccy would not get into trouble before he wandered back? Or did he disobey rules and try to find his friend before the raccoon could get into too much trouble? Jake decided Raccy would be better off if found sooner rather than later.
He jumped over the gate and was gone.
Two blocks over, a neighbor was in her front yard, stretched out on a quilt beneath a tree. The sky was clear and the sunshine warm as she watched her toddler meander through the thick grass. The toddler, gripping an apple slice, had a hard time staying on her feet.
“Whoopsie,” her mother would say when she fell. Giggling, the child would get back up, still gripping the apple slice. A couple of houses down, the little bandit watched, considering how he could relieve the child of her food.
Raccy, didn’t have the good manners to not break, uninvited, into the play party. He ran up to the child, plopped himself down, and stretched his hands toward the apple slice, a game he played with his kids.
The air around him started to crackle.
“WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” the toddler wailed. She had strong lungs.
An anguished, “Noooooooooooo!” forced from the mother’s gut through her throat collided with air surrounding Raccy’s ears.
Raccy, who had never heard that kind of racket, turned and ran. He leapt onto the tree and climbed in long, rapid strides, to the top. The mother grabbed her sobbing child and ran inside to call the pet cops.
By the time dog catchers made it to the scene, neighbors had gathered in the yard. Shading their eyes they peered upward, hoping to grab a peek at the frightened raccoon. This kind of excitement, in a somewhat sleepy early 60’s neighborhood, was not common.
The poor dog catchers were d-o-g catchers, city dog catchers. Every now and again they grabbed a cat or two, but they had never captured a raccoon.
Standing in the street, heads close together, they discussed how they could get to Raccy. Deciding one would have to climb the tree, they moved the crowd out from under it. Then they stretched out every net they had on the truck. Next, the taller one situated himself under the tree. He jumped up and grabbed the lowest hanging branch, pulling himself onto it. Once there, he climbed until he was high enough to shake the branches underneath a clinging Raccy. Raccy didn’t budge; he hung on like a koala bear.
“We’re gonna have to use the tranquilizer gun,” he shouted to his partner as he climbed back down. Hitting the ground, he joined his partner at the truck.
Watching the dog catchers, only a couple of onlookers noticed the collie run up and stop across the street, a half a football field away. He was eyeing the situation, calculating his odds. But everyone noticed when he ran – at full speed – past the distraught dog catchers and through the on-lookers. Eyes never leaving the raccoon, Jake was barking as if talking to him. Just before he reached the tree, as his feet started to slow, Jake gave one last bark and stopped only long enough for the raccoon to jump on his back. Then he, with Raccy like an outlaw, clinging to his trusty steed, galloped away.
Joyce Allen was in the gaping group and recognized Jake from all the times we walked him around the block. We kids must have been legends in our own right, because someone else knew who we were. That’s how Mrs. Allen knew who to call, and she’s the only reason Mama ever heard the story. When she got home from work, they were both in the backyard, Raccy in his cage in the garage, door open, and Jake laying in the lawn as if nothing had ever happened.
Jake and Raccy would still have become legends, alright. But we’d have had no way of knowing The Masked Marauder and his getaway driver, Speedy Slim, lived right there, in our garage.