April 2005 - I received an email from some people in Northern Maine stating their unique case. The Good Samaritan was driving home at night and saw a dead raccoon in the road and instead of leaving the body there to be smashed into pulp, she pulled over to drag the body to the side of the road. When they went to move the body, they realized...it was breathing! They took the adult raccoon and noticed when they loaded it in their vehicle that was a lactating mother raccoon, meaning she had a litter of kits out there somewhere. So they searched the area to no avail and finally took her home. She laid there like a corpse other then breathing. They spoon fed her water for a few days without knowing what else they could do. And for those few days they had her, they were also out in the area she was found hoping to find her babies. After reading their story I was determined to help. I was a young, still fairly new, rehabber and eager to "save them all". I drove a few hours north with my friend and assistant Amanda Toussaint and we went into parts of Maine where you pray you don't hear a banjo! We were even more confused as we drove and the house numbers on this particular street were very erratic to say the least. I think they were trying to get people lost!
Anyway... I arrived at the house, finally and they brought her our on a stretcher board and we loaded her into my Durango and off we went, back to Auburn. Not knowing if she was going to live or die or if she could possibly have rabies, I had no choice (being a home rehabber) but to keep her out in the barn instead of in the house where it was warmer. I kept going out to check on her for any reaction. But....nothing. Touching her lip with a wooden spoon, touching her eyelids, moving her limbs, no response. I gave her sub-Q fluids to hydrate her and some NutriCal under her lip to see if we could get anything boosted. The following morning my father went into the barn and told me she was dead. I went out to check on her and laughed... because she was still alive... but just barely... looking dead as she did when I picked her up. And this is what she looked like when we got her. Thin, from being a mom.
After a few days had passed I came to realize; the only thing I could do for her... if release her from her body. Nothing was helping. I called the ER Vet and asked them to draw up enough serum to euthanize an adult raccoon. I took the syringe home and brought the mother raccoon inside for the first time... to lay her on the coffee table in front of my couch... I sat there staring at her. It seemed I was gazing for hours. Looking at the lifeless yet breathing body then looking at the syringe. Finally I broke down crying. I couldn't do it. So I had to think fast of what else can I do? So I called a few rehabbers for a quick teaching on how to tube feed. If I did it wrong and killed her... well... she was good as dead anyway. So I got all the stuff I needed, soaked some dog kibble, blended it up into a smoothie and began tube feeding her 3-4 times a day. Tube feeding a lifeless body. I was so new to rehab, I just refused to give up. Several times over a month period I looked at the syringe and thought of giving up on her...but I just couldn't. A month goes by and I am I still tube feeding a lifeless body. Until one day... I go to remove the tube from her stomach and as the tube brushed over her tongue... she LICKED HER LIPS! Slowly but there was MOVEMENT! So I squirted a little more in her mouth, and she moved to tongue to lick it!!! After a MONTH! I was revitalized! I had hope! From then on, there was no more tube feeding but she was licking from a syringe. This syringe feeding went on for another month until she was able to right herself and lay on her stomach instead of on her side. She would at this point, lick her smoothie from a bowl. After a month of eating from the bowl, I started giving her softened food, but not puree. Then finally progressed to solid kibble and a bowl of water. But still, no real movement.
June 2005 - Kiara - In June I got in a single baby raccoon. Wondering if maybe giving her back a baby, since she lost hers, would perk her up. So I took the new baby, after the baby went through her quarantine, and placed her in with the "new mom" to see how it would go. Sadly the Momma raccoon did not react at all, only lifting her head to acknowledge then laying down again. The baby greatly appreciated a mother-figure and began suckling on her. After a week or so Momma seemed more drained then before so baby Kaira was removed and strictly hand raised to allow Momma to recover her strength. Kiara grew up perfectly and Momma started to regain her strength quickly once the baby was moved.
February 6, 2006 - From April intake until February, Momma has not done much of anything. She has been bathed regularly because she lays in her own urine and feces. Yet for the life of me, I have not had the heart to euthanize her. And today, 10 months later, for the first time, she stood up in her cage and shook like a wet dog then proceeded to look down at herself as if she was getting ready to groom herself but didn't. But it was still more progress.
April 2006 - A full year has gone by now and Momma is finally on her feet, although unsteady. We are unsure of what the issue is at this point. Brain damage from the accident or from being in a coma for so long? Time to get some expert advice. Took her to one of the amazing wildlife vets to have her evaluated. Wondering if there will come a day when she can actually be released back into the wild. After all, that is the whole point of wildlife rehab. After her exam the vet concluded, she was not brain damaged... her slow movements were because she was BLIND and now unsure of her surroundings. So he asked what I wanted to do at this point. She would never be able to be released into the wild. After a full year of getting her to this point I could not take her life after fighting so hard for so long. So Momma was the first animal I ever KEPT. She was not a "pet" by any means. She lived outside in a large cage. She was fed well and spoiled as much as she could be. She was allowed to be "wild" and untouched (except when she had a hard time shedding her winter coat in the spring). She knew treats and I hope I provided a good quality of life for the many years I got to enjoy caring for her along with my father who was also great at tending to her much like a farm animal. She enjoyed birthday cake whenever we had birthday parties, my parents would buy her popcorn shrimp! We did plenty for animal enrichment keeping her disability in mind. We have no idea how old she was when we got her, but she did not pass away until 2012. We valued her life for the 7 years she was in our care and she will always be remembered and missed.
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