One day while we were hand feeding the babies for this new family we noticed that one of the babies from this group of 5 had no tail. Of course at first we thought we were seeing things or we were both going blind, as that is easy when all you see is gray and stripes, but then this little guy let me gently pet his little furry noggin’. Then he turned around to tell his siblings, "Hey, these people are a-ok and look, they gave me a twinkie!"… I confirmed that he did indeed not have a tail.
We named him Bobbi because we assumed he had a "bobbed" tail, when in fact we have always believed that he was born without a tail.
Over the next few seasons we always recognized Bobbi right away over the ever growing number of families simply because he became the sweetest one of the bunch. The strangest thing we noticed was other raccoons tended to give Bobbi space and we never once saw another raccoon grumble at Bobbi. This actually became a reoccurring theme for other raccoons with disabilities or differences, ever since. It is proof to me that in the animal world there is true sympathy for their members that may be different.
Bobbi would always be one of the first to come up to our door every night but not the actual first as we had another raccoon that had successfully claimed the title of "early bird" and was the first every single night.
After cleaning all of the bowls and refilling them with fresh water and food, there would be some nights we would go back out and sit on the deck (at their level) and it would usually be Bobbi that would come up to us with a paw out saying "I really would love a twinkie". Of course, there would be times he would walk back down the steps back into the yard where we could not see him and the next thing we knew he would be back saying the exact same thing. Unknown to him, since of course he had no mirrors, he always had little bits of twinkie filling on his whiskers. But, we always fell for his look and those twinkling eyes.
Bobbi was unique and we have always thought he must have at one time been a loving dog or cat simply because it seemed he knew everything we said and some of the looks he gave us spoke volumes as though to say…"I know, I know" or "I have heard this before."
After 8 or 9 years, Bobbi started getting a light gray and a little on the pudgy side and we could tell without him saying anything that he was slowing down and getting older, but his enthusiasm for a pat on the head and a hand-held treat never waned. While holding a twinkie in our hands and having his little soft paws gripping our fingers, his tongue licked out all of the gooey from the twinkie and his eyes smiled while looking up at ours. This is something that I can close my eyes and enjoy to this day as his was some of the strongest, most vivid and most wonderful memories that I have and that I will never forget.
About 3 years ago, Bobbi came up to the door one night and leaned against it. I went and got him a twinkie and gently stepped out on the deck and sat down next to him. I knew the second I looked into his eyes, he was not there this time to share a sweet with me but rather, he was there to say goodbye. Much like I have always heard about elephants, I truly believe that raccoons know when they are at an age when it is time to go, and this was his time.
We sat there for probably 10 minutes just being quiet, enjoying the slight breeze together and then he got up, walked over to me, allowed me to pat him on his head and even down onto his neck which was something that I had never done before. He put one paw up on my jeans, looked me in the eyes, turned and slowly walked away.
We never saw Bobbi again, but that is okay, because we will always have him in our thoughts, our minds and in our hearts. In 14 years, the only raccoon that allowed us the privilege to say goodbye was the little raccoon we called "BOBBI".