Higgins' Journal(Part Two of Twelve)

The life and times of a young raccoon

being the journal of Alex Snow

copyright Alex Snow (1998)

Tuesday 8 May After his middle-of-the-night snack, Higgins wanted to play with his toys on the floor, but I was too tired to play with him so I went to sleep. I awoke slightly during the night to feel him climbing over my shoulders and p urring in my ear. Somehow he had figured out a way to climb up onto the bed by himself, probably by hauling himself up the bedclothes with his arms. During t he day I put him in his little house only to find him about an hour later on top of the bed. He spent most of the day in the bed, he seems to prefer it. He refused food at his midday feeding today, but drank 3 1/2 oz. at breakfast, earl y evening, and late night (10.30 p.m.). He has solid bowel movements with this Esbilac formula. He was fairly quiet today, and did little exploring. The wea ther was rainy and cold all day so I did not take him outside as is our wont.oT CHe's such a gentle, hesitant, little creature, cautiously padding and pawing st range objects with his hands, but he can make a strong statement if he wants to. This evening he made a suitably damning comment on the quality of the televi sion program we were watching by peeing an enormous amount on the couch in the d en.His fur grows apace, thicker and shinier each day. It is becoming more gi ngery on his shoulders, more white on the fronts of his legs and on his undersid e generally, and more black on his head. His tail is noticeably thicker, especia lly at the base. He chews things more than formerly, as I write he is chewing on my writing pad.

Wednesday 9 May. Linnaeus's original hunch about raccoons was not too far off the mark, they do look like little bears. (German -- waschbar - - the bear who washes.) So, because of his wonderful scent and teddybear appear ance, I've decided to call him Higgins Honeybear -- a fitting and proper appella tion. May the Honeybear lineage be long and fruitful. After all, in just a fe w years this little bundle of fur could be Grandpa Higgins.N;He was somewhat off his food again today. He took 3 oz. at breakfast, but no lunch, and only 1 oz. early evening, then 3 oz. late evening. He doesn't seem to have had a bowel mo vement in two days. The weather has been cold and rainy the last few days with temperatures in the 30s to 50s (Fahrenheit), and I've noticed that after Higgin s has been running around the bedroom and hallway for a while his paws are cold and his nose drippy. I'm afraid he may indeed have caught my infection, cold, 'flu, or whatever. Perhaps that is why he has been off his food a bit."+After y esterday's discovery that Higgins can climb up onto the bed, today's discovery i s that he can't climb down! This brings up the bedwetting possibility with a v engeance. I tried to show him how to climb down by moving his hands and feet ge ntly for him, so that he would get the feel of coming down rear end first, but t o no avail. Every time I helped him down he climbed back up, and stood on the edge of the bed nervously chittering and pawing about, drawing back each time hi s head went over the edge. Higgins spent most of the day sleeping in the bed. H e used the litterbox when I lifted him down into it. He digs in the litterbox a fair bit,and enjoys tunnelling under other things too, such as bedlinens, cush ions, clothes, and so forth. His eyes are definately able to focus on more dist ant objects than previously. He now carries things around in his mouth from tim e to time -- toys, pen tops, anything small enough to fit. He bites my fingers with greater strength, his upper incisors seem longer and sharper now.VBI find m yself feeling very protective of him. (The mothering instinct goes overboard so metimes!) I wonder about his safety when I'm away from home. Today while I was driving the car, I suddenly had a dreadful fear that he could pull down a towel rack in the bedroom by pulling on my workout suit, which I usually leave hangin g loosely over the rack. The thought of him lying limp and crushed under the ra ck flashed into my mind. When I arrived home he was fast asleep in the bed, of course. Just to be safe, I put the rack in the hall closet and closed the door firmly. 6The soles of Higgins' feet and the palms of his hands have skin as sof t as a human baby's. He reacts to touching so much that it is clear his skin is very sensitive. He's a real tenderfoot. On the backs of his hands and feet ar e hundreds of tiny fine black or dark brown hairs mixed with a few longer white ones. The first digit, while not an opposable thumb, is set lower on the hand t han the other digits, and can grasp surprisingly well.

Thursday 10 May. Higgins wet the bed this afternoon while I was out. I wish he would learn how to climb down out of the bed to get to his litterbox. He took three feedings of 4 oz . each, having apparently given up on lunch. He seems to have settled into an eight-hour feeding schedule.PWhen he goes into REM sleep his body twitches and his eyes open. His eyes flicker and roll, so that one can see the whites occasi onally, but he apparently sees nothing even though his eyes are wide open. In t his condition he does not respond to a finger waved in front of his face. During REM twitches he sometimes shudders, makes chomping movements with his mouth, oc casionally growls, often puts his right hand over his nose, and sometimes gives a squeak or two as he wakes.

Friday 11 May Today Higgins gets the Grand Prize for Inconvenience. It was cold last night, so I put a down-filled quilt on the bed. He wet it. The drycleaner is going to love this one! I really can't blame Higgins for making so many messes, he's just an infant, and one can't bu y diapers small enough to fit!W^IThis p.m. he went exploring, and after the hous e had been quiet for a suspiciously long time I went looking for him. There was no sign of him anywhere in the bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. Then I heard a sq ueak from the front bedroom, which to my knowledge he had never previously visit ed. I arrived just in time to see an avalanche of white satin comforter and she ets cascading down the end of the bed, emitting shrieks and yips. Somehow he ha d climbed up the bedclothes and they had slipped off with him wrapped up inside . Oh, was he glad to see me when I got him disentangled!!I cleaned out his litt erbox today, as I had done last Friday, and it occurred to me that maybe he has been using his litterbox so little and the bed so much these last few days becau se he likes a cleaner place than his litterbox has been. I'll clean it out more often and see what happens. I had a layer of ground clay covered by a layer of pine shavings in the box, now I have a little ground clay covered with a lot of paper towels which I can easily remove.Higgins has learned to claw his way u p the upholstered bedroom chair. If I put a pillow up against the chair he'll c autiously climb down, headfirst, on the pillow. This looks like progress, perh aps he'll learn to climb down off the bed soon. He has also learned to swing o n the hem of a curtain on the north window. He hangs on by his claws. Today he also climbed into my briefcase, and totally disappeared inside it. I hope he d oesn't get in there and fall asleep, as I might accidentally carry him off to so me business meeting.He no longer spends any time in the little cardboard house beside the warm air vent. If I put him in it he jumps out again. He definately prefers the bed. Perhaps he doesn't like being confined on the floor. He's al ways climbing up onto the tops of things: my head and shoulders, the back of the couch, up on the bed, and so forth. Maybe I should have mimicked the condition s of a tree den more precisely by putting his house up on top of a chest of draw ers or in a cupboard.

Saturday 12 May After taking two 4 oz. feedings today, Higgins didn't want to eat in the late evening, and took only one ounce of formu la late at night. He was quite active this evening, climbing up and down thing s. He discovered that he could slide headfirst down a cushion off the back of t he couch onto the seat cushion and from there it was an easy slide down my legs to the floor. He seemed to enjoy this slide as he repeated it several times, ha uling himself up the side of the couch to the top and whizzing down again. He w ent exploring around the downstairs den while I was watching television there, b ut he only went short distances, and kept running back to my lap. While he expl ored, he chittered and purred softly in a nervous sort of way. iHis big triump h of the day was climbing up the stairs from the basement den to the kitchen. H e followed me. I went up the stairs slowly, and he pulled himself up one step a t a time with his claws hooking on to the carpet.

Sunday 13 May Despite the fact that I am now keeping his litter pretty clean, Higgins has apparently decide d that he prefers one corner of the bedroom carpet. I found a little pile of turds there. He still seems to be using the litterbox to urinate, though. He didn't want any food this a.m., but drank 4 oz. both early and late evening. He had diarrhea on the carpet late this p.m.sTonight he repeated yesterday's jumping and sliding games on the basement den couch. He about drove Peter nuts by trying to haul himself up Pete's hairy legs while Pete was almost immobile with a soccer injury to his right thigh. Judy came over to visit. Higgins not only failed to recognize her, he was afraid and growled at her. She has three dogs, and he may have smelled their scent on her. He chews his catnip mouse and his piece of rawhide frequently, pushing them to the back of his mouth where his molars will be. I can feel his back teeth through the gum with my finger. On his left ear he has a slightly thickened ridge inside the earflap -- a scar?

Several times today he stretched his body flat on the edge of the bed and peered downwards, but he turned chicken and would not climb down headfirst. The bedlinens are too flappy to give him the sense of security a more solid couch can give. When he gets to the point that his back feet and claws have to let go, he hauls himself back up.

Monday 14 May Higgins' measurements are now: tail 6", body 13", total length 19" nose to tail, rear feet 3", forefeet 2", between ears 2 1/2", head approx 4 1/2" nose to neck. His facial coloring has become more distinct, the black on his facemask blacker,the white above it whiter. His abdomen is much fatter, he looks quite rotund. wHe drank four 1/2 oz. feedings today, and had a fair bit of exercise climbing around in the basement den. His habits have become fairly regular. He takes formula from his bottle three times daily, at approximately 7 a.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m.. He urinates three times daily, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and mid-evening; and has one bowel movement per day, in the evening.

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