I admit that I am a lousy Buddhist tonight.
A woman left a message while I was gone that said she was seeking “placement” for a raccoon that they had. It was becoming difficult to deal with and needed “rehoming”.
I knew exactly what was going on. It happens every year about now.. They find a baby coon in the spring, think it’s sooooo cute and that they can take it home and raise it. Once in a while the coon survives, but as coons always do, they become well, coons. They expect me to take the animal and either keep it forever (so they can come and visit at will) or retrain it for the wild.
Preparing a pet coon for life in the wild takes months. It’s late in the year. Chances are it could not be released before winter sets in, so I would have to keep it all winter. That means dedicating a pen (which has already been cleaned and disinfected) for that coon only. It means winterizing it, so the little bugger (who will not have thick enough fur after living in the house) won’t freeze. It also means FEEDING that coon all winter. Chances are, it has not been fed a proper diet, so there may be health problems to deal with also. So I have to cover the food bill for at least 6 months, provide a heated waterer (so the water doesn’t freeze) and care and clean up after it every day..
I called the woman back. No answer. I wasn’t exactly calm enough to leave a message. So she calls me again just as I was sitting down to dinner.
She tells me that the coon is about 4 months old and becoming “unruly” (That means, it snarls, bite and generally tears the house apart on a regular basis) She said her children raised it. I asked why she didn’t call when they found it. She said she wanted them to have the “experience”.(I refrained from asking what holler in the Ozarks she came from)
“so, I said, now you want me to take care of the problem YOU created”.
Isn’t that what you do?
“Nope DId you know it was illegal to have the coon? Oh wait you must have looked up on the internet how to care for it, it probably already told you that. Has the DNR contacted you yet?” (Often people aren’t willing to relinquish an animal till the law is breathing down their neck)
“What I do”, I said “is to take orphaned and injured animals and treat them and get them back into the wild as soon as possible. And I’m pretty good at it.”
Oh, he can’t live in the wild! He needs “Placement”.
“I’m not a zoo.”
You mean you won’t take him? she asked incredulously.
“Nope. I will not take a problem you created and make it my problem”
Well give me numbers of people who will!
“There aren’t any. I’m it and I won’t. You’ll just have to find someone on your own or deal with your own problem.”
She hung up before I could make any further suggestions. I don’t think she would have liked them anyway.
So here’s why I’m a lousy Buddhist and feel so guilty. The coon is the one who will suffer. I don’t know what will happen to it. They may just take it out in the woods and dump it. It may survive. It may not. That’s probably not the most compassionate stance. The other problem is that I feel no compassion for the woman who did all this. None. Zip. I probably should, but… nope.
It’s a fine line we walk between being compassionate and being door mats. Compassion should not require us to take on a great deal of work that we don’t need. Turning the coon down causes me suffering. Taking the coon and caring for it through the cold of winter would have caused suffering. I chose the path of less suffering….I hope.
Buddhism isn’t easy. No one tells us what to do or makes the rules. The only commandment per say, is compassion. Sometimes we have to apply that compassion to ourselves.
It was so much easier when I was just a bitch. Bitches never feel guilty.