This morning’s front page article in the Sanford Herald about the Lee County Wildlife Rescue Center brought back some fond and sad memories for me. Before we moved to Sanford in June of 1985, we adopted an unlikely addition to our family – Roxanne! She came to us as a newborn – her eyes weren’t even open, yet! We cared for her and grew to love her dearly!
Roxanne was a raccoon! Unfortunately, the reason we ended up adopting her was because my, then fiance, Ronald killed her mother! You see, Roxanne’s mother had gotten up into the roof of the house and was running around in there and making all kinds of racket and probably doing a lot of damage! So, he took care of it! Then, he discovered that she had a litter of pups up there! If I remember right, there were 6 of them! We decided to help them along until they were strong enough to be let loose. We kept one to nurse – Roxanne – and we found friends willing to take on the others. Our intent was to just get her to where she could survive on her own and let her loose. Well — she wormed her way into our hearts and that was it!!! Roxanne became a member of the family!
I fed her with a baby bottle and she would nuzzle up to my neck and sleep – I became her Mommie! She was very loving, cuddly, and sweet! She became very devoted to us. And she was welcomed into our home by all of our other animals! It was so funny watching her play with our dogs and even a cat we had at that time. She grew and adapted well – she was so well behaved and we trained her to follow a routine and use a litter box.
When it came time for us to move to Sanford, we didn’t think twice about what we would do with Roxanne! We packed up all of our belongings on a flat bed truck and loaded two cars with the essentials — clothes and things we would need while we settled in, provisions for the trip, our son Robby, our Beagle Easy, a cat, and Roxanne! Yes, Roxanne was a Yankee transplant, just like us!
Here is Roxanne drinking from a cup at the Steele Street home we bought when we first moved to Sanford.
Here is Roxanne playing in the yard at my Mom’s with her dogs – Brandy and Mindy.
Here is Roxanne swinging on a hanging plant stand with Ronald at our Steele Street house — she loved to swing on that thing!!!!
She adjusted well to her new home in NC. She pretty much had free run of the house – like the other animals – and she loved it! Knowing that raccoons like to wash their food, we always fed her on the ledge of the kitchen sink. We would turn the faucet on and she would sit there and wash herself and her food and eat. It was so cute to watch! Her favorite food was hot dogs! We would cut a hot dog up in small pieces and she would take each piece in her little hands and wash it under the running water, then she would peel off the outer skin and wash it again, and then, finally, she would eat the piece by rolling it around in her hands while she nibbled all around it – then she’d move on to the next piece! She had other foods she loved – like popcorn, but that is the one that sticks out in my mind the most!
She would run around the house and play and have a ball with the other animals. But when it was time to sleep, she would come to one of us and curl up on our laps – she loved to be cuddled and held!
But — when she became an adult raccoon, it became obvious that we needed to let her go. She still loved us and we weren’t concerned at all that she was turning wild, but she was starting to get rough when she played and drew blood a couple of times. She also stopped using the litter pan and was going pretty much wherever she wanted to — not good! And the dogs she loved to play with were starting to act funny around her and she would hiss at them! So — yes, sad as it was for us to decide, we had to find a way to let her loose. But — you can’t just let a domesticated animal, like that, out in the wild – they could become a victim of another wild animal before they could adjust! So we asked around to find out where we could take her.
Our vet suggested we take her to SanLee Park. They had a wildlife rescue center there and they would teach her to be a wild animal and then let her loose. We visited a few times – they wanted us to visit on a set schedule that would wean her from us so she wouldn’t suffer because she missed us! We would take her popcorn and she would get so excited to see us! We slowly stopped going to visit and on the last visit, I cried my eyes out!!!! We knew we were doing the right thing, but it was so sad to say good bye to her!! We kept in touch by phone for a while so we knew how she was progressing. They succeeded in their mission and she was let loose! I only hope she survived and enjoyed her new life in the woods at SanLee Park.
So — when I read this morning’s Herald article about the Lee County Wildlife Rescue Center, I thought of Roxanne and how they helped us with her many years ago! They are a wonderful organization that does some great things for the wildlife (and not so wildlife) in our community! I will always be grateful for their kind treatment of Roxanne!
One day many months later, there was a raccoon in our back yard – when we went out to shoosh it away, it just sat there looking at us – it sat up and rubbed it’s eyes with it’s little hands and then turned to run off……….I wonder – was that Roxanne returning home for a visit???? It gave me warm fuzzies to think so!