Friends, readers–I am thankful for Audience Participation Fridays. Keeping up with a blog is hard work, and as you may have noticed, I haven’t exactly been up to the challenge this week. On Fridays, however, it becomes your problem rather than mine. A friend from high school has a “critter control” company that catches wild animals that end up in people’s houses. I noticed on Facebook today that he had gotten five raccoons out of one house. And it got me to thinking…”There’s an animal in the house!” is a whole subgenre of the amusing anecdote genre.
I’m sure you have a story of a time a wild animal got into your house or the house of somebody you love. Why don’t you take a moment and share it?

  • Patrick
    6:05 PM, 12 November 2010

    When I was a kid a bat got into the house through the attic somehow. The kids rooms were upstairs so we were aware of the critter first. The black shadow-like blur was frightening, swooping back and forth over the stairwell. My sister let out an awful scream and we dashed down the steps with heads ducked covered with hands, hoping to get away untouched. However, we didn’t think to close the door behind us at the bottom of the steps. The bat then made a few passes through the whole house as we cowered low. My dad grabbed a tennis racket, and a plastic container and followed it up the stairs closing the door behind him. He returned with container capped. He got it, and it would soon suffocate. I held that container for a moment. I still remember how creepy it felt- the movement of a living creature that had previously terrified my siblings and I, was now trapped and dieing in my hands. I had very mixed feelings. I was sad for it, but there was no way I would let it out. Dad took it to the back porch and left it there. I’m not sure what happened to it after that.
    In my own home, one day as my family and I were leaving the house to go shopping… as soon as I opened the front door a loud yappy dog bolted past me into the house. My daughter was about 4 and quite fearful of dogs, and she ran out as fast as the dog went in. Our two cats panicked as they scrambled for hiding, and I took off after that dog chasing it back out. On its way out it about ran my daughter down, and then started jumping and barking at her, until it realized how close behind I was. It took off back across the street to its owner who was out wondering where the dog had gone, claiming it had just dashed out of their house. The owner apologized, and no lasting phobia developed. My daughter now loves dogs and wishes we would let her have one.

  • Aaron Roughton
    9:37 PM, 12 November 2010

    My critter in the house stories involve critters that were willingly brought into my house.
    As we’ve already discussed my father’s proclivity toward Feechie activity, it won’t be any surprise to you that when a coral snake showed up in our garage he promptly caught it and put it in a terrarium I had used for a turtle. He then brought it into the house as a pet. It’s status as a house guest lasted for about 45 seconds, right until my mom found out and sent it back out.

    Later in life a small bat perched over the door to the apartment that Lindi and I rented when we were first married (which I’m pretty sure is a sign from the Lord of a good marriage, or well chosen apartment, or vampires). He was there long enough to earn the name Chunky from Lindi, since he resembled a Chunky Chocolate Bar. A friend of mine who worked at a veterinarian’s office grabbed the bat one day as he entered our house. He sat down on the couch with the bat screeching, clinging to his shirt. I told him how vampires could only cross a threshold if they were invited, and how now I was going to have to kill the bat with a wooden stake, so he took it home and kept it in a box from which it promptly escaped and flew away.

  • Patrick
    2:25 AM, 13 November 2010

    I guess wildlife stories are not as popular as celebrity stories. Maybe the research you presented last week is accurate despite the flaws in the survey.

  • sally apokedak
    2:04 PM, 13 November 2010

    Oh, I’m so sorry that I missed audience participation Friday. I don’t get my posts in my email box until the following day and I forgot to check the site yesterday.
    We had a bat when I was a kid, too. Boring story. Dad chasing the thing with a broom. The rest of us screaming as if we were being murdered by vampires.

    If I can think of a better story, I’ll post it today and we’ll make audience participation Friday into a wild audience participation weekend. I’m such a party animal.

  • Terri DeFoor
    2:14 AM, 14 November 2010

    We had a bird fly into the house via the chimney once, and before we could coax him out, the disoriented little critter deposited little blobs of soot on every wall and window it ran into. I opened all the windows and doors, and tried several times to shoo him out with a broom, finally succeeding. It took a little climbing and scrubbing to get the house back in order.
    I remember feeling so sorry for the litte thing. I don’t know what kind of bird it was since he was completely covered in soot from beak to tail feathers. When he grabbed the trim at the top of one of the windows with his tiny claws for a little break, I could tell how frightened he really was.

    We were both relieved when he finally found his way out.

  • sally apokedak
    2:52 AM, 14 November 2010

    I was running around with the kids all day so I didn’t come up with a critter story. Too bad. Audience Participation Friday is the high-point of my week, usually. Yes, I said already that I’m a real party animal.
    Even though I don’t have a story, I did want to pop back in to say two things. Patrick, your dad must have feechie blood to be able to catch a bat with a tennis racket and a plastic container. And secondly, you need to get your daughter a puppy for Christmas. 🙂

  • Melinda Speece
    9:04 PM, 14 November 2010

    They weren’t in the house; they were in the yard (VERY close to the house). BUT there were twelve of them and they were skunks. Because you might have sensitive, skunk-loving readers, I will only say that the solution involved a Have-a-Heart trap filled with peanut butter smeared on dog food, an elaborate pulley system that could be operated from inside the house, and a water-filled canoe.
    Hope you, Lou Alice and all the kids are doing well!

  • Mark Geil
    1:59 PM, 15 November 2010

    We all got back from a week at church camp one year to find that a bird had built a nest in a duct in our attic. I was relieved when the commotion quieted for a time and assumed she had left. Turns out she laid eggs. A chorus of fragile peeps greeted us one morning through the ceiling, and we knew we had a real problem.
    I devised a plan that would expel the birds through the duct out the side of the attic. I knew it was important to keep them in the duct and not let them escape into the attic, so I measured the opening, fabricated a makeshift plunger, and found a good spot to cut the duct open.

    We waited until we thought the baby birds should be old enough to take their inaugural flights. I entered the attic like a one‐man SWAT team, with a tool belt full of gadgets and one of those cool head lamp things that miners wear. Dripping in sweat, I carefully opened the duct and was met by a cacophany of frightened tweets. (The bird kind, not the twitter kind. Duh.) All the birds left but one. He was apparently a bit slow in the flying department. We named him Doofus.

    I figured Doofus might be fully capable of flying, but might just need some encouragement. I closed my eyes, gave a shove, and Doofus took the plunge. As it turns out, no amount of encouragement could make his little wings take flight.

    We found him outside, waddling around in a bed of pinestraw, looking understandably confused. We were all glad Doofus survived. Me, especially, as the father of three little girls who do not take lightly the killing of small, defenseless little birdies.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    9:22 PM, 15 November 2010

    Great stories all the way around. I’m with Sally, Patrick. Get that little girl a dog. We put it off for many, many years, and now I can’t remember why. We love our dog. She has a very high-falutin pedigree, but for all that, she still acts exactly like a dog.
    I’m glad Doofus the bird and the Roughton bat survived. It’s a relief to all of us.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    6:32 PM, 16 November 2010

    Sorry, Melinda, your skunk story got lost amid a whole pile of spam. I wasn’t intentionally leaving you unapproved. Which is to say, I do approve of you, Melinda, in spite of the delay.
    I was tracking with you on the Have-a-Heart trap, the peanut butter, the dog food, even the pulley system. But a water-filled canoe? Am I to understand, Melinda, that while you had a heart when you captured the skunks but you didn’t have quite so much heart thereafter? I don’t want to know, do I? I’ve never had a dozen skunks prowling around my house, so I won’t sit in judgment. But my imagination is aswirl, I can tell you.

  • Melinda Speece
    1:06 AM, 17 November 2010

    Thanks for the approval. And, yes, you could say we “lost heart” thereafter. I mean, what is one to do with a skunk (or twelve over fourteen nights) in a cage? Thanks for not judging us.

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