Whereas I truly believe that raccoons are perfect just the way nature made us, I've had to subjugate some of my finer instincts to accommodate my surrogate parents. They established a set of house rules, the implication being that if I didn't follow them, I couldn't live in the house. I don't really believe they'd evict me, but I don't want to push the issue. These are they: the house rules and how I learned them.
As soon as I turned 10 weeks old, my training began. I loved to play. The first thing I learned was that my parents expected me to play with things. I wasn't supposed to chew on their fingers or go after their toes. Every time I did, my parents said "NO" and stuffed a soft toy in my mouth. This was hardly what I wanted, but I soon got the idea it was OK to bite toys but not them.
I also learned to hate the word "NO". They never spanked me because I'd forget I was a pet coon and attack them in return. It was very important that I not view them as the enemy. Sometimes I do forget and bit hard. They say "NO" and reject me. They leave the room we're in or make me go to my room.
I'm convinced I should be the only pet in the house, but from the very beginning I was told not to eliminate the others. Every time I went after one of the cats, I heard "NO" and my parents intercepted me. They were afraid that as I grew up, I'd do serious damage to one of those pesky cats. I'd really like to, but I accede to their wished on this.
The battle of the litter box is covered elsewhere.
A very difficult concept for me to learn was what distinguishes 'my property' from 'their property'. Basically, I thought everything should be mine. Part of the problem was solved by putting locks on everything. That way I couldn't get into trouble. When I did attempt to have a pillow fight with the sofa pillows, they would be taken away from me. That hated word "NO" would be heard and one of my stuffed toys substituted for the pillow. If I got hold of something that was dangerous or extremely breakable, my parents would offer me a food bribe to give it up. This still works today. The only thing is, I learned what would get me a bribe. Anytime I want a treat, all I do is threaten to dig up a plant and my easily manipulated surrogate mother offers me one to desist.
When I was a baby, I thought it was the neatest thing to climb humans like a tree. They didn't think so, and tapped my toes lightly with their toe when I'd try. I hate that. They bought me three carpeted cat trees to assuage their guilt over spoiling my fun.
I love food, but my parents insisted I learn some manners concerning food. They feed me a lot by hand. I have learned to take the offered morsel politely and wait for the next to be offered. Each day when I get my dinner plate (I insist on real china), my mother pets me. I'm not crazy about this, but I've learned to accept it. I get scratched while I eat a treat box too. If I growl because I don't like it, the "NO" word is used. I've learned to be reasonably gracious while eating and might even let a parent take food away from me if it is necessary because it could harm me. On the other hand, maybe not.
Whenever I need medication, we play a game. They hide it in a treat, usually a piece of avocado. I show that I know it's there by taking it out and handing it back. The second time it's offered, I eat it. See, it's all a game.
I believe in being well groomed , and I think I do a good job, but my parents insist on augmenting my efforts. From the time I was a tot, I've been given baths. They make it fun by putting toys in the bath and afterwards rubbing me in a big towel. I don't get a lot of baths because it destroys my natural oils, but they do it often enough (once or twice a year) so I don't forget the routine.
Once a year my hair 'cracks' and I begin having bad hair days. I hate trying to get the dead hair out. It gets caught in my teeth. Mom helps by combing me with a special metal cat brush. I don't like this either because it hurts when it snags. We've come to an accommodation. She gives me treats to eat and combs me at the same time. If I'm chewing something I like, I'm not so inclined to bite her, though I do growl now and then.
The older I got, the less I liked being picked up and carried. We compromised. My parents bought me a carrying cage and trained me to go in it on command (with a bribe, of course). They shut the top and can carry me wherever I need to be taken, including the vet, if necessary. We have trial runs once a month to keep in practice.
I talk all the time. If I'm walkin' I'm talkin'. I've been encouraged to do so since I was a baby. My parents talk to me all the time. They believe if I express myself all the time there will be fewer misunderstanding between us. They'll know by what I verbalize exactly what I'm feeling. In addition to listening to me and learning my 'words', they've taught me to recognize some of theirs and associate them with specific behaviors. I respond to certain commands, and may actually carry out the request if I feel like it. The list of commands I know includes: UP( get up on whatever) DOWN (get down from whatever) COME HERE, that's self explanatory IN THE CAGE (I get in my cage), WANT A SCRATCH (I have to lie down for this) NO we've already discussed this one CUTE COON that's a command to sit up and look over my shoulder. It usually gets me a treat. IN THE TUB (that's bath time) GIVE ME YOUR HAND (it's insurance. They hold my hand if I'm nibbling on their fingers). There are others, but you get the idea.
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