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I Threw a Raccoon Down a River to Save My Dog!

Sometimes nature likes to get a little too up close and personal. This was one of those times.

 |  Oct 5th 2012  |   36 Contributions


One late fall afternoon in Cambridge, Massachusetts, my boyfriend and I took our dog, Zach, for his daily constitutional along the Charles River. It was very early in the evening, as I distinctly remember the light while the sun was setting. 

I liked walking Zach by the river in this particular area where neither foot traffic or people traffic were heavy. He was pretty good about sticking by us, so, of course, he was off-leash.

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Zach. Illustration by Nigel Sussman.

We were approaching a footbridge and Zach trotted ahead to check out our surroundings. He ran off ahead a little more than usual, going underneath the bridge. I didn't care too much since I knew he liked exploring. So I walked along for a bit and then started calling him. I usually give him a minute or two and he'll tear around the corner from wherever he is, as though he's saying, "What? What? Where are you going? What did I miss?"

But nothing. No Zach. 

I called and called. My boyfriend called and called. We listened for barking, for rustling … anything. Nothing. 

Where'd he go? I looked around a little bit before heading for the footbridge. My boyfriend ran of to the other side of the footbridge, further down the river. I started down closer to the water, under the bridge -- and then I saw Zach. He was standing still, about 12 inches deep in the river, nose to nose with a raccoon.

*&$^$!! [Expletive expletive EXPLETIVE]

It's light out, I thought. This raccoon is out? Oh my god! Is he rabid? He's rabid. Crap! CRAP!

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Is he rabid?! Illustration by Nigel Sussman.

I ran towards them, calling, "Zach, Zach, get over here now. NOW." He completely ignored me; this was waaay too entertaining for him.

As I got closer, I realized there was a big problem: The raccoon was between Zach and me. I couldn't simply grab Zach; I would risk Zach getting bit, or me getting bit. So I slowed my approach, my own feet getting into the water. 

"Zach, buddy, what're you doing?" I said in a calm, low voice. "We gotta go. Let's get outta here."

What he did next was totally surprising. He kinda looked at me with a "Hey! Look at this thing I found!" expression. And then ... THEN …

He dunked the raccoon.

Yeah. He dunked the raccoon. 

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No, Zach, no! Illustration by Nigel Sussman.

He had put his mouth around the back of the raccoon's neck and submerged him underwater.

I freaked out. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ZACH?!?!" I yelled. 

Zach's tail wagged. I was worried that he had killed the raccoon, but I couldn't see any blood.

A few seconds later, the soaked raccoon popped his head up in the river. He looked pretty pissed.

I still didn't have the angle to grab Zach safely. Just as I thought I'd somehow try to get him, he dunked the raccoon again. He was playing! He had found a live toy: "I got a raccoon -- neener neener neener!" and he totally wanted to play with it.

This time when Zach let go, the raccoon did a dead man's float, face down in the water. I thought fast. Is he playing dead? He's definitely not dead. What if he pops his head up again and then attacks? 

I didn't want to be in a middle of a fight between my dog and a raccoon. And I didn't want Zach in a fight with a raccoon, period. 

As I started to act, I was thinking, "This is the dumbest idea ever." I reached down, picked up the raccoon by the tail, and hucked him down the river. I say that I hucked him, because it really wasn't a throw. That sucker was drenched with water and heeeeavy.

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An epic battle I didn't want to see play out. Illustration by Nigel Sussman.

I immediately grabbed Zach by the collar. "C'mon. We're going." "But but but but" read the expression on his face. As I dragged my reluctant dog out of the river, I turned to see the raccoon had popped his head up out of the water and was now swimming back toward us.  It was like a horror movie.

Zach and I ran. We made it up to the riverbank and Zach was all happy, tail wagging. My boyfriend ran up to us, only catching the best part of the show.

It was then when I realized how much I really loved my dog. The idea of him being harmed was not an option -- so I threw a raccoon down a river. It was possibly the dumbest idea ever, but we got away unscathed. And that's all I really cared about. 

All illustrations by SAY Media's own Nigel Sussman

Update from the author: For clarification purposes, we were not in a wildlife area. We never saw animals in that area, nor at that time of day, hence Zach was off-leash. Following the incident, the leash went back on, obviously. Maybe I was a bad dog owner, but Zach was the best dog ever and I loved him to pieces. He is no longer with us, having lived a full, happy 19 years.

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