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THE EARTH SHOW (May 2023) – “The Wilder Pet Predation Plot (the Old Classic where Humans Feed Raccoons Cat Food like Pets)”

by | Jun 3, 2023 | Season 3, Wilderness Security Guide | 0 comments

 

 

Welcome humans. I’m Wilderness Security Guide the Environmental Control Operator for STORYSOLD: Pest Control. This is a service story about what happens when humans feed my wild creature friends the raccoons like they’re pets.¬†

Our story begins with a text from Farmer Rachael. She is a rockstar farmer in our human host Jake’s lifetime lover’s story Full Cellar Farm. She’s whip smart with a witty and warm sense of humor, has a degree in wildlife biology, married to a handsome cool guy who designs shoes named Evan, and recently became the mother of a new human named Stella.

FARMER RACHAEL: If there is a raccoon out and about during the day do you think it’s sick? There they are eating cat food and washing their hands…

STORYSOLD: Good video. I’m in NE [Portland], but I don’t have my wildlife traps. My guess is that it’s hungry…removing the cat food is best move ūüėĻ The signs of disease are lethargy and aggression. So if it crashes on your driveway and doesn’t move, that’s bad. If it tries to eat your face, that’s bad too. I could spray coyote urine at it…

FARMER RACHAEL: It kind of freaked me out! It ran away when the mailman came by though.

STORYSOLD: That sounds normal.

FARMER RACHAEL: You think it needs to be trapped? Idk how I can convince my neighbor to get rid of the cat food. She thinks feeding the raccoon is good because its hungry.

STORYSOLD: This is a classic story. Removing cat food is the first suggestion I make when I talk to people on the phone. Joke’s on her.

FARMER RACHAEL: For real. Nothing good comes from feeding a raccoon. I just gotta be more careful in our backyard now during the day. I’ll try to tell her to not put out the food. Aw man I hate this kind of confrontation.

STORYSOLD: I would only trap it to keep it from being domesticated by the Disney humans. I should knock on her door like a cop and tell her that “there’s been reports.”

FARMER RACHAEL: I mean that’s tempting. I’ll track this little gremlin and see if it becomes a big problem.

STORYSOLD: Agreed. Let me know if I can shame or scare her into doing the right thing, or whatever ūüėĻ

FARMER RACHAEL: Right on.

That’s how this story began. We were joking about trying to shame or scare the Neighbor into doing the right thing. We knew from experience that was a bad idea. The story where humans feed the wild creatures of The Earth Show is a common, tragic, unfunny story; especially when the pet people cross over from feeding store bought domesticates to feeding of feral cats and then cross over to feeding birds, squirrels, possums, rats, and raccoons. Pet people are normal. Wilder pet feeding people like Birders are normal too. They’re reoccurring Earth Show characters. The names humans call the wilder pet feeding people aren’t always nice. Humans who other humans feel take the feeding of wilder pets too far are labeled with social character disorders like Pet Hoarder or Crazy Cat Lady. We don’t believe labels like those are helpful.¬†We know from experience¬†that shaming, scaring, and or trying to force a human who’s hosting an unpopular character to change doesn’t help anyone, ever.

So we’re going to try a different approach. Instead of pinning the Neighbor with some kind of individual based disorder or character flaw like a doctor, we’re going to show you where this character comes from and why we believe humans feed the raccoons.

We call this Earth Show character’s storyline, or plot, “The Wilder Pet Predation Plot.” Humans don’t know it yet, but someday soon we will begin to write and produce The Action of The Earth Show with a lot more intention, flare, and awareness of what we do. In that future, environmental control operators will use live action storylines and plots like The Wilder Pet Predation Plot and The Entry Hole Strengthening Storyline¬†to “treat” (yes I hate that word) or edit The Earth Show like healthcare professionals use their diagnostic manuals filled with names and label to treat for their disorders/diseases. It will take a lot of time and hard work to persuade earth creatures that it’s not smart to try to “treat” the microenvironment of individual bodies without, at least, making a meaningful investment in making radical changes in the diseased/disordered vector’s macro environment. Macro-environmental control is the role classic pest control operators fill now, but they’re hopeless outgunned (in a socio-economic sense) by the healthcare system. It’s my hope to introduce Earth Show plots, like the one you’re reading now, in an attempt to show the pest control industry it’s potential, which is great and glorious and could literally help save our planet if done right.

In any case, back to reality. Here’s my working definition for this Earth Show plot…

THE WILDER PET PREDATION PLOT: The Action where humans unwean wild creatures in an effort to control, trap, and or kill them to protect their Homefront territories; or preserve their meat for future food production, or feel a sense of connection with The Earth Show.

Wildlife feeding stations at apartment complexes in Lake Oswego and West Linn.

I’m a wild character, so naturally I struggle to understand why humans delight in the feeding, sheltering, and environmental controlling of earth creatures (I do environmental control to hunt for cash, not for entertainment or comfort), but I deep down I¬†Get It. It’s okay in the same way any horrifying mistake can be normalized in time. Big mistakes are like that. The daily sacrifices that are made to pay for the original big mistake tend to gang up on us. The sacrificial payments made to¬†That Storyline¬†make it feel like it’s meaningful–like it can be fixed somehow if enough effort is made–when, in fact, maybe it’s a storyline that should have been edited from The Earth Show a long time ago. All the philosophizing aside, all I’m trying to say is I Get It: wilder pet and pet predation, in general, has a place in¬†The Earth Show.

My easy read goes something like this: normal household pet predation is okay because most pets owned by humans are born in captivity, stay in their¬†Neverland state of domestication, and never know what it feels like to be wild and free and own their own parts of The Earth Show.¬†For years I’ve asked Farmer Emily (owner of Full Cellar Farm) to describe the relationship she has with her pet Pip the Evergreen Jungle Cat. Outside of being a well-fed killing machine, Pip has no working role in Emily and Jake our Human Host’s Homefront. We don’t talk about this subject often (because of the strong feelings it produces), but I believe Emily’s pet ownership comes down to “I like Pip because his fur is soft,” and a general feeling of “comfort” that Pip brings to Emily’s story in spite of his daily run of asshole shenanigans.

It’s not only Emily who has strong feelings about pets. Most humans have strong feelings about pets. That’s why we strongly encourage you humans to stop reading now if you value your civil pet relationships, because we’re about to present something controversial:

I believe (based on my experiences as an environmental control producer of The Earth Show) that pet and wilder pet relationships are predatory.

In The Action,¬†predators in The Earth Show don’t only hunt, kill, and eat their prey. Predators invest a lot of time and energy in the controlling, herding, tracking, and managing of their prey populations. If anything, The Hunt is a ritual given that unfolds like human wars and movies unfold with both predator and prey very aware of what’s going to happen next. For example, I know my rat populations. Nine times out of ten, The Hunt isn’t a contest. I win each and every time. Every so often I face a complex territorial Homefront where the rats have been there so long they have the advantage, but those service stories aren’t my normal, ritual, sacrificial rat catching experience. So yeah, what I’m trying awkwardly to get at here is: the primary working role of any wild predator is The Action of controlling the food, water, shelter, and story of their prey. That’s the hard work.¬†The Hunt and the killing is a sacrificial ritual (or what modern humans call “sports”) and the after party howling at the moon and feasting are the moments of victory.

Humans control their soft fur bearing pets (comfort/entertainment/service creatures) by controlling their environment, supplying them with food, water, and shelter. Typically humans call creatures who take food, water, and shelter from us (without our permission) “pests,” and we call earth creatures who we love and give food, water, and shelter to “pets.” The rub there is, we inadvertently give most “pests” food, water, and shelter too. We do that by not controlling our territorial environments (what I call our Homefronts) in a way that draws clear boundary lines, writes clear wild markings, and speaks the universal language of The Action in a way that says, “Fuck off! You’re not welcome here!”

Raccoons and rats don’t understand English. So “fuck off!” has to be translated into The Action of not leaving any open entry holes into your Homefront, or leaving a free food supply around like–“The first hit is free!”–from an enterprising neighborhood drug dealer. The call and response of owning, marking, and becoming the apex predator of your Homefront is (or should be) an active, on-going storyline. Owning is, after all, an action. “Ownership” is a shitass power word that makes no sense to my wild creature friends. They know when the humans let their guards down and fail to produce The Action¬†that’s needed to own their Homefronts. The wild creatures of The Earth Show¬†are persistently producing¬†The Wilderness Test, constantly testing “the fences” of civilization, ever exploring for new territories that no earth creature, animal or human alike, are actively owning…

It’s hard to translate the leaving of free food out as anything other than an open invitation. In the wilder language of The Action I imagine the free food scene translates into something like, “My Homefront is open for business! We killed a Cat Food Factory and we’ve already took our fill of the meat. Feel free to take your turn in the feeding line with the other scavengers.” ¬†In The Wilderness, apex predators tolerate lesser predators and scavengers. You could even say, in a way, they domesticate them. I imagine wolves do this, because a scavenging mouse, rat, raccoon, coyote, or wild dog whose always hanging around the pack’s kills make good meals in a pinch. Domestication (turning an entourage of scavengers into food pets and walking meat) is an apex predator’s inventive answer that meets the same need as our refrigerators. Packing, preserving, and protecting a supply of elk meat is a lot of unnecessary work. Apex predators aren’t lazy. They’re just smart.

Meanwhile, back to our service story.¬†After Rachael tracked the Neighbor’s feeding of her wilder pet raccoon for a few weeks, this was her reply:

FARMER RACHAEL: Could you trap this raccoon? Would you let it go on the farm? How much? Sorry for the interrogation haha. I’m really on edge with it hanging around in the daylight.

STORYSOLD: Let’s do it! Can you spy and find out what brand of cat food it likes?

FARMER RACHAEL: Yes! I think we can put a trap on our garage.

Two days later, I arrived at Rachael’s Homefront after a long day of producing The Earth Show¬†around the Portland area. The Neighbor and Rachael had already talked and they were both onboard with the trapping plan. The Neighbor was there to meet me when I arrived. The first thing I noticed was the cat food dish in the front yard and all the peanut shells littered around the porch like a country bar.

The Neighbor was warm and receptive to speaking openly about her feeding practices and wanted to do everything she could to deal with the bold day walking raccoon, agreeing to pay STORYSOLD: Pest Control for our help. At first I tried to see if she would be receptive to simply not feeding the raccoon. After a few moments of conversation I could see that she had a kind of cop mentality about the problem. “This isn’t a systemic problem ma’am,” I imagine the cop would say. “It’s just one bad individual raccoon who needs to be taught a lesson.” I might have entertained that storyline too, but we knew Farmer Rachael. Her family are regular supporting cast members of Full Cellar Farm and STORYSOLD: Pest Control. Her¬†stories about the Neighbor who feeds the creatures of The Urban Wilderness¬†had been featured at Full Cellar Farm for years, so I knew better than to think the raccoon was acting abnormally. In an attempt to curb the Neighbor’s pet predation scene, I described the raccoons behavior to the¬†Neighbor using relatable words like “addiction” and explained it was normal for wildlife to become more bold, more trusting, more like pets, when humans feed them regularly. I also attempted to illustrate the kind of damage that’s done to a wild raccoon’s character when they become hooked on a regular food supply.

STORYSOLD: The most damaging thing you can do to a wild creature is to feed it, because they become hooked like addicts. They lose their ability to forage and hunt normally and they become upset and aggressive when their handout food supply is taken away.

Then I asked her point blank if she would stop feeding The Wilderness. She agreed it was a good idea, but she struggled with the idea of not feeding her feral cat friend.

THE NEIGHBOR: She (the cat) has been depending on us for years. We can’t abandon her now. What if I just put the food out for the cat and brought the dishes in after…?

STORYSOLD: The wild creatures you’re feeding will know that you’re still feeding the cat. They won’t stop coming around, at night, in the day, until they get their fix of free food. If you don’t stop cold turkey they might walk in through an open door, looking for the handout, or begin to approach other humans like Rachael and her newborn expecting the same pet like relationship you’ve developed with them. It’s normal for them to start act like pets when you feed them like pets.

The Neighbor listened and agreed to everything I said, but the conversation had a reset button and we continued to loop back to the needs of the feral cat. It took me a while, but I eventually realized that the feral cat was the stand in character for our conversation about the raccoon.

As I began to describe the trapping process to her, our raccoon appeared right on cue on the side of the stand alone garage. The neighbor normally fed her around two, and it was already four. Our buddy was eager for her afternoon meal and we were standing around, in her way, jibber-jabbering in Human speak, obstructing her from meeting the performance expectations of her routine afternoon storyline. My first though was to grab the trap and put her afternoon meal in the trap to see if I could catch her before I went home, so that’s what I did….

The raccoon found the food in the trap almost immediately. I watched amazed as she reached over the trigger paddle of the trap and took food from the dish with her very human like paws, scooping the food from the dish one handful at a time. When her meal was over, she sauntered back to the large evergreen tree in the back of the garage where she lived.¬†Next in the Neighbor’s scavenging line was the feral cat, who appeared from behind the garage as well.

As I drove home that day, I wrestled with the inevitable ending of the Neighbor’s service story. Almost four years ago, Our Human Host Jake accepted an official state of Oregon business entry into their heart and began to host STORYSOLD: Pest Control. During that time I, as Wilderness Security Guide, have performed dozens of successful raccoon eviction and exclusion services all without trapping and killing our pesky wild creature friends. Until then, the only raccoons I trapped and killed were a part of the classic wildlife trapping services I performed when I worked as an employee in The Industry working for Pioneer Pest Management (the Thing now called PurCor). Amazingly, in the years Jake’s been hosting STORYSOLD, we hadn’t met many humans who fed¬†The Urban Wilderness with as much panache as Rachael’s Neighbor; and I knew, in my heart, I wasn’t going to be able to break the raccoons addiction to civilization by spraying coyote urine on her, evicting her from a shed, attic, or crawlspace, or even writing an action plan to keep the Neighbor from feeding her. She was no longer independent and wild. She was an unweaned daywalker now.

For clarity, I imagined what would happen if I trapped her and relocated her at our fifteen acre farm in Boring, Oregon (with the permission of ODFW of course). The storyline in my mind always ended the same. The raccoon would show up at our front door at feeding time, or wander to our neighbors’ Homefronts and attempt to continue her pet like¬†relationship with the humans she found there.

Here’s a chat snapshot of The Action that happened in the next few days…

FARMER RACHAEL: Nothing in the trap [in front yard] but it looks like something tossed around in the food awhile.

STORYSOLD: How about the other one?

FARMER RACHAEL: Where is the other one? I see the one in front by the tree. I see it [by garage] nm. Triggered with nothing inside, but some hair.

I was in the area, so I stopped by and reset the trap and asked Rachael to check them…

FARMER RACHAEL: Oh great! I’ll check on them again tonight. Maybe we will get him before his afternoon shift at the cat diner.

STORYSOLD: I think this guy understands traps. My guess is I get the feral cat first.

FARMER RACHAEL: Yeah dang.

STORYSOLD: I watched him yesterday fish over the trigger to get food.

FARMER RACHAEL: Omg no way! Wow. He [she] is seasoned. They are amazing.

STORYSOLD: The words I’ve been using is “domesticated monster.”

FARMER RACHAEL: He’s going to be a tricky one. Just saw him walking around. He ate all the food.

STORYSOLD: It will work so long as he doesn’t get food from anywhere other than the traps. I’ll just keep putting food in there.

I think that’s the part pet lovers don’t understand about what I do. Feeding the wilderness, for a rat catcher, is a predatory act for me. It’s not the brand of trap that catches a rat, or a raccoon. It’s doing what the Neighbor has already done. Successful trapping is about hooking my prey on the food, bait, or attractant I supply and control. Controlling food, water, and shelter is what environmental control operators do everyday. Killing the “bad guys” in The End is not as nearly as important as controlling and reclaiming the environment from the “bad guys.” In fact, it makes no sense to kill the “bad guys” without making the necessary changes to my customers’ Homefronts, because it’s not the gene for bad guys, or Satan, that makes bad guys. It’s an unbalanced relationship with The Earth Show that develops bad guys, which usually begins with a “good guy” who hasn’t marked and developed their Homefront in a way that produces The Earth Show scenes they want in their home. In other works, it’s not sexy…but being a good guy is about setting strong territories boundaries for your Homefront more than it is killing the bad guys that misread unset boundaries, or weak ones.

I know the Neighbor wasn’t thinking “I’m going to unwean these wild creatures, hook them on my food supply, and control their stories like a wolf managing its supply of elk meat.” The Neighbor was thinking what Disney (and civilization in general) wants her to think. The importance of weaning isn’t often valued in our modern domesticated world.¬†Sure most humans stop nursing at the appropriate age (except the closet nursers), but the whole part where we “bite the tails” of our youths and push them out of the nest doesn’t always happen for many systemic reasons. Simply put, many human relationships are pet like: pastor/congregation, owner/employee, artist/audience, etc. I think that’s why so many humans own pets. It’s an affirmation of their fundamental relationship with The Earth Show. I’m choosing to resist my urge to go down the rathole on this one. Instead I’m going to cut this short and simply say, “Humanities¬†primary predator characteristic is domesticating and controlling The Earth Show’s food, water, and shelter supplies, and we affirm our role as the planet’s apex predator by owning unweaned domesticates in our homes.”

“This is Fido, and I’m his human master Jake,” I would say if I were a dog owner. “I supply Fido with food, water, and shelter. He was taken from his mother soon after he was weaned. I like to think he still understands what it’s like to live wild and free in a pack of dogs, but that’s not the case. I train him to do tricks. Mentally Fido is still an adolescent living in The Neverland called domestication. He wouldn’t know how to write The Earth Show¬†with a pack of wild dogs if his life depended on it.”

What the Neighbor was doing at her Homefront was as normal and common as watching a Disney movie with a bowl of popcorn in her lap. There’s an entire aisle at the supermarket dedicated to the feeding of our wild creature friends. The rub of her story was, she was mass producing The Wilder Pet Predation Plot in a way that spotlit this storyline more dramatically than an overflowing bird/rat feeder in the backyard. Domesticating birds (and rats) is damaging to their wilder characters too, but we don’t often see the damage it does…because they migrate we don’t have to face that reality like we do a once wild raccoon playing pet with a newborn baby present.

A few days later, The Action at the Neighbor’s continued…

FARMER RACHAEL: Today we caught another neighborhood cat and a possum. I reset them.

STORYSOLD: Yikes! I hope all this will convince her to stop feeding the wildlife.

FARMER RACHAEL: For real.

STORYSOLD: Thanks for helping!

FARMER RACHAEL: The possum is really taking his time coming out.

STORYSOLD: I’m coming by in an hour or so to get the possum.

FARMER RACHAEL: Ok. He might be out I will check. We moved the trap into a more secluded area so maybe he’d feel comfortable coming out. I will check again once Stella wakes up from sleeping on me.

Meanwhile my ongoing text conversation with the Neighbor was not going great…

THE NEIGHBOR: Jake, we have not seen hide or hair of our raccoon for the last 2 or 3 days. Can I feed my cat and we’ll see if he comes back?

STORYSOLD: No that’s a bad idea. Racoons have a foraging range of a mile in the city. The price of this story (for the good of you and your neighbors) will be your letting go of feeding any animals outside. There is no good way to target one animal for love and domestication without targeting the rest of the urban wilderness. Trust me, your wild cat friend will be better off if they don’t have the confusing prospect of a regular handout. There are so many rats to hunt out there!

THE NEIGHBOR: Oh, Jake, I wish I had understood your stance earlier. I don’t know that I can stop feeding Sage for good. I would be willing to feed and pick up the food so it isn’t always out, but I have been feeding her for a couple of years. I just don’t feel good about turning my back on her. I feel like crying right now. I had no idea this was where we were heading. It is only that one raccoon that comes in the day. I thought just getting rid of him was our goal.

STORYSOLD: I’m sorry if I upset you. I’m onboard with the goal of trapping the raccoon. I was mostly replying to the immediate needs of that plan. Leaving food out for the cat will make the trapping harder and more expensive than it is already. Even if you work to target feed the cat, the rest of the wildlife knows it. Trapping is only helpful if it breaks the behavior/addiction that was built up over years. Bold/aggressive wildlife is only a symptom of that storyline. Just trying to make our relationship as clear as possible: trapping the lead/most bold of them is difficult/expensive short term solution, but it’s better than doing nothing. I will support whatever decision you make. It is your home and you hired me to help, not tell you how to relate to The Wilderness.

THE NEIGHBOR: Thanks Jake. I understand what you’re saying.

I tried many times to guide and show her¬†The Earth Show as I understood it. Wild creatures, including and especially feral cats, have amazing super powers that pets do not.¬†They don’t depend on us exclusively for survival. That’s what makes them wild. The difference between a wild creature and creatures who choose to be pets be boiled down to one word: adaptability. Science likes to write wilder characters as having fixed instincts, but the wilder pets (the wilder pests) I encounter in my Earth Show adventures everyday demonstrate an amazing ability to adapt. It’s the wild ones who aren’t weaned that cause the biggest infestations…

All wild creatures have mothers, but wild mothers don’t show their love for their children by supplying them with food, water, and shelter for any longer than is necessary. Typically raccoons are weaned from their nest and capable of living independently from their mothers in 2-3 months (studies often vary on these numbers). Often they stay together as a family unit for up to a year before the litter separates and the kits go their own ways. One year. Not eighteen. Raccoons, on average, live for fifteen years. That means they spend roughly less than one fifteenth of their lives with their mothers. Humans, on the other hand, spend about a quarter of their lives with their schools and families before they are weaned from the nest in the high school graduation ritual. And even then, for many human youths high school graduation only signifies the flying from one nest to the next one.

It’s impossible to know, but it sure seems like raccoon mothers value their independence more than humans do. By that I mean they work hard to prepare their kits for The Earth Show,¬†teaching and showing and guiding their litter from their initial pet-like dependency on them to maturity.

I often feel like I imagine a successful raccoon mother feels when I watch one of my wild creature friends living wild and free in The Action without any help from me. I think, “Damn! What a total wild badass!” I enjoy watching The Earth Show for that reason. There’s something magical and wondrous about watching my wild creature friends writing The Action¬†independently.

I’m sure the same goes for the mother of the feral cat and the mother of the possum. I’m sure they’d be mad as hell at their children for getting hooked so easily and becoming the prey of a human who writes The Wilder Pet Predation Plot.¬†“How could you?” I imagine they’d rage. “Did you seriously believe I raised you to become that human’s service animal? And don’t even say it! I didn’t work my ass off just, so you could play The Bad Guy and sacrifice your life for the short term security of an easy meal. Nuts to that garbage. I’m your mother and you will respect my weaning!”

I’m a guide. I’m not an expert. I don’t fix problems. I don’t answer all the questions.¬†All I want from this transaction is for humans to wonder:¬†What good comes the storyline where the apex predators of The Earth Show intentionally unwean my wild creature friends, welcome them in their Homefronts and make them your wilder pets, and then call STORYSOLD: Pest Control when the cop mentality kicks in and humans decide the lone “bad guy” being “too bold” is running amok?

All I’m saying is, is there anything more comically tragic than exterminating an infestation (killing wild creatures) while, at the same time, our customer is creating the next one?

We have a term for that. We call it “pet ____(rat, mice, roach, bedbug, you name it) populations.” Orkin know it well. They have the managing of pest pet populations down to a science.

If I’m honest about this service story, I’m mad as hell. And I didn’t do any work to wean that raccoon! Mostly I’m mad at me,¬†because I wasn’t able to find a creative way of weaning that raccoon back to its normal, routine, classic wild and foraging Trash Panda character. I knew the raccoon’s addiction to the pet predator’s handouts had caused her story to become infested beyond what I was able to control with my bag of environmental control tricks…

Raccoons can and will eat everything under the sun. They’re true omnivores. They eat bees, voles, crawfish, seeds, birds, eel, turtles, corn, eggs, apples, beetles, wheat, walnuts, rats, oysters, human food waste (half eaten hot dogs, leftover pizza, and the crumbs from your bag of chips), and whatever else is on The Menu. You name it, and they will eat it. My question for smart psychologists everywhere is, “Why do omnivores become addicts?” Do those cat food factory producers add some kind of additive ingredient to cat food, or is it simply the outstanding customer service that turns a badass omnivore into a cat food addict? We know from experience, wild creature who suffer from cat food addiction go through all the emotional cycles of heroine addicts. They feel that classic fear that their next paycheck (cat food handout) might not come again; they feel rage when that fear boils over and they will DO ANYTHING to satiate their next fix (of cat food), and of course, for wilder pets who become hooked, the only earth creatures worth writing The Earth Show¬†for would be humans, because they’re the only creatures on the planet who can supply their fix of Friskies.

The call came on Mother’s Day.¬†Our human host Jake had spent the day with his family. Long story short, his mother suffers from dementia. She lives in a memory care facility in Beaverton, OR. His brother Ben (who owns/operates his piano tuning business from his home in Aloha) hosted their Mother’s Day gathering. All in all, it was a good gathering. Jake’s mom needed constant redirection–“Let’s sit and enjoy some food, mom (for the third time)”–but she was uncharacteristically calm and content when we dropped her off.

Our human was about to sit down with an adult beverage and watch the last episode of Succession, when the call came in…

THE NEIGHBOR (via text): The raccoon is in the trap as we speak!

STORYSOLD: Oh shit! Is the door closed behind them?

THE NEIGHBOR: Yes.

STORYSOLD: Ok I’m on my way. Do we want to continue trapping?

THE NEIGHBOR: Not at this time, but thank you…

When I arrived to “take the raccoon (as instructed by my ODFW license),” I did my best to be Mr. Customer Service with the Neighbor and Farmer Rachael when they met me in the yard. I performed the generic customer service scene (like we all do), but I was not happy.

I didn’t know she was a she until after I killed her.¬†Not that that mattered much. The coyotes, turkey vultures, hawks, mice, and bugs on our farm didn’t care if she was a she or not. They picked her flesh clean in a week or so.

A few hours after I killed her wilder pet, the Neighbor texted asking for her feeding dishes back. The next day I gave them to Farmer Rachael when she arrived at the farm for work.

A week or so later, Rachael confirmed that it was back to business as usual at the Neighbor’s Homefront. The food dishes were out supplying free food handouts for the possums, raccoons, rats, squirrels, and feral cats of NE Portland.

I know I shouldn’t care. I’m an environmental control operator. I write The Wilder Pet Predation Plot¬†for a living. Every day I wake up, go to work, and use that old ecological storyline to hook my prey on my food source (bait/attractant), and then use it to either evict my wild creature friends from my customers’ Homefronts or use my addictive food drugs to trap and kill them. I guess I’m generally confused why any human would start the wilder pet predation trapping process, and then pay good money to have a professional, like me, finish the job for them. I like money as well as anyone, but that seems odd. The strangest part is the part where the Neighbor believed (and still believes) that they’re helping my wild creature friends somehow.

That last line still haunts me. I’ve had it ringing in my ears for weeks: “I have thought about it a lot, and just don’t see a different outcome.” I think it rings because it rings true.

I don’t know how to feel about this. I suppose I relate. Like the Neighbor, I don’t think of myself as the villain. I’m the helpful pest control operator.¬†I love my encounters with wild creature friends as much as the Neighbor does, and I only kill when I have to kill. You know, when an individual/criminal runs amok and there’s no bringing them back into the fold of The Wilderness. I’m like a doctor who carves out a disease, disorder, or pest from The Earth Show environment, but I don’t cause, or participate in the creation of infestations. That’s what villains do. That’s what the pests themselves do. Yeah that’s it! In The End, it’s the raccoons fault for getting hooked on cat food. That has to be the answer, because that’s the only story that makes this make sense.

With that said, we the characters of STORYSOLD: Pest Control would like to wish all the hardworking weaning mothers of The Earth Show a happy mother’s day everyday. May you keep your kits, litters, and children safe from predators…

We may be the villains, but we’re still rooting for you!

The Dialogue

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The Living City: Origin of Storysold on sale now!

$25 bucks gets you a handcrafted, 500 page, fully illustrated reading adventure to the city that started it all!