Thwack, bang, bang, thwack! Little Ryan was playing with his plastic bowling pin set out in the yard, pounding on the ground with the pins and laughing as he enjoyed the freedom of playing outside. His family lived in a nice, safe, wooded neighborhood, behind a high school. Their yard was lush and green, and the day was bright and sunny. Mommy was just inside the house, looking out the window from time to time to make sure everything was all right, and smiling to herself as she listened to her son play.
Thwack, bam, bang! Plastic bowling pins make the best sounds when you hit them together! It’s why Ryan didn’t hear the rustling sounds coming from the woods just on the edge of his yard. He looked up from his play, just in time to see a raccoon walking straight at him.
Raccoons are so cute, so sweet-looking with their big eyes rimmed in black, their little forepaws make them look like they’re begging for love. Someone had taught Ryan well, though, and he knew this was a wild animal and it was not normal for it to walk right up to a human.
He jumped up and started running towards the house. When he looked behind him, he was terrified to see the animal chasing after him. His little four-year-old heart beat even faster as he struggled across the lawn to get into his house, to his mother, to safety. But, the raccoon didn’t care that Ryan felt safe in his home. It followed him inside and grabbed a hold of his tiny ankle, little sharp teeth sinking into the boy’s skin.
Ryan’s mother heard the screams and came tearing into the front room. She reacted without hesitation, kicking the wild creature off of her son, grabbing it and throwing it out of the house. Scooping up her son, she calmed his terrified screams and then took him to the hospital.
The poor little boy’s ordeal was not over yet. The panicked moments fleeing the raccoon was over in seconds. He now faced a series of rabies shots in a quiet sterile, room of a hospital. Once the initial series of shots was done, he would have to go back, and get even more shots. To the mind of a four-year-old, the anticipation of each shot would be almost as terrible as the fight with the rabid animal.
And the worries of Ryan’s mother, and those of every other parent in the neighborhood, were just beginning. The raccoon was back in the wild, free to attack someone else. Ryan’s mother was told to try raccoon trapping, but the only traps available to her were designed for squirrels, not raccoons. Raccoons are known to bend the hinges of traps too small for them and break free. So, somewhere in the woods between her neighborhood and a high school, a rabid raccoon was roaming around, sick and wild.
But, to Ryan, his mother is a hero. She battled the creature that had chased and hurt him and made him safe again. It may be a while before he feels completely safe playing outside in his own backyard, but at least he knows his mother’s there.