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New Columnist:  Barkley the Raccoon


Introducing Barkley, and “How He Saved the Day”


By Barkley (with Peggy Dey)


Well now, I guess introductions are ‘bout due.  I’m Barkley, full name Barkley Boo, though those who know me best might call me Barks or Barkers.  I would say pleased to meet ya’ll but that would be too predictable for a southerner and I best leave that to the basement dwelling opossum Opus. I’m what some folks refer to as a “ring-tailed opossum” or a raccoon.  You’ll get to know me over time as I relay my great services as an everyday self-proclaimed and recognized super hero.  I hope my exploits will leave you awe-inspired and occasionally breathless if I must say so myself.  Why my mother seems to think the most likely emotion I provoke will be amusement I don’t know, but everyone’s entitled right?  She needs to reevaluate her perspective and take things more seriously, as seriously as I do in my job of keeping my world (and yours) safer – and at the same time embarking on great adventure and discoveries.


I was born, like most raccoons I have heard of, from a raccoon.  I’ve heard tell that the tree I was living in with my raccoon family came down in a storm when I was only a little over a week old.  When I was found by some people I was alone, so I can’t tell you much about my past.   The people called many animal service places for help, and no one could take me in without upsetting something called “animal control.”  Pardon my opinion, but may I be the first to say some animals just can’t be controlled, so whatever force that is must have their hands full.   Anyway, seems my new family is known for taking in and caring for ring-tails like me when no one else can, and so I ended up safe after all with new parents and my own boy.  My new family must like animals, because I certainly have a lot of furry and feathered company around here!


Why the name Barkley?  Hey, I could ask you what inspired your parents too, and some of you out there know you have more “unique” names than I do, but as a raccoon I understand curiosity.  I was named after a character in one of my boy’s stories, a gentleman burglar from Barkers, England who seems to have had an odd habit of barking like a dog and trying to chase his tail.  Odd, as I haven’t met any people who have tails, but perhaps in this place called England they do. My family said with my mask and being raised with dogs I would likely be a confused thief, so the rest was easy and self-explanatory.  For those of you who might not make the leap, write to me at ourplacetopaws (at) aol.com and I’ll try to clear it up for you.


What makes me a hero when I was brought up with such humble beginnings in the middle of the woods in a house full of animals cared for by people who have been told they are “not right” by many? (How they got the reputation for always being incorrect has me baffled, as I have not personally seen the blatant mistakes which have obviously earned them such a cut and dried reputation).


First and foremost let me say there isn’t enough press for the every-day furry heroes in this world (though I thank “Paws” for giving us some much-needed news coverage). Sure you hear about the flashy ones, perhaps a dog pulling a baby out of a burning hot air balloon, or some crippled horse carrying a world peace leader through a swarm of blood thirsty hummingbirds or some such, but there are those of us closer to shin level that could stand to be lifted now and then to the glare of the spotlight.  Why just today I saved my home from certain destruction by explosives, perhaps even the surrounding neighborhood and water supply.  I was on routine recon in my Mom’s office when I came across an object that smelled so…exhilarating in her desk.  Well, to be perfectly honest I suspected there was a bomb in her office and after selflessly distracting her by climbing up on her table and tipping over her fancy orchid plants and vase of fresh flowers, I was able to buy enough time to deftly open her desk drawer, rummage quickly and efficiently through her papers and debris, and lift the dangerous object out in my skilled jaws.  Hey, it helps to have opposable thumbs in these situations too. 


I could see surprise in her eyes when she looked up from dabbing at the soggy, stained carpet where I had so thoughtfully directed her to keep her from danger.  She started shouting “Go! Go! Go!” at me and I took off with it in my mouth.  Later I found out she was really saying “No! No! No!” but I got the point and took off for the bathroom and for the tub with water in it she had left for me to play in.  Hey, every bomb squad member will tell you water is your best friend when it comes to the majority of explosives (I learned that from TV), and while I deftly defused most of the bomb on the way to the tub with mom in hot pursuit, I successfully submerged the rest of the housing, ensuring no further threat.  According to the conversation mom had with the boy afterwards, the bomb was of the dangerous “confetti-popping-noise-making” variety, shaped like a small bottle with a string you pull to set it off.  She may not have even been aware it had been placed in her desk.  She sure did fuss a lot afterwards about mess and “disaster,” so I know she appreciated what I had prevented. 

Mom and Dad’ll sleep easier tonight knowing I am downstairs in the hammock in my pen keeping a watchful guard on our home.  You should sleep easier too.  Some day I will be loose in the world making it a safer place for you, too.

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