Stakeout To Catch a Runaway

I needed donuts and coffee quick!

According to all the 1970’s cop shows I watched as a kid, it helps while on a stakeout. Keeping a watchful eye out for the “perp”, I anxiously awaited her capture so I could make the call to get an ID.

You know I’m all about slapping on a sticker badge and calling myself Sheriff of the yard. All that Starsky and Hutch viewing was going to pay off.

yard corner

Entrance to the hideout in an overgrown thorny corner

Each day at dusk, the kids and I would spot her and two other gang members sneaking across the yard by the fence line in a covert fashion. Over the past two months, she’s been seen stealing food from all corners of the neighborhood while slyly alluding capture.

No matter how quietly I opened the sliding glass door to the backyard, she heard it and bolted to the safety of the new hideout in the conservation area behind my house. Thorns and overgrown brush that once stopped the teenagers from using is as a path are no deterrent for these seasoned adventurers. Having the time of her life, she isn’t ready to give up this freedom she’s been enjoying during her mid-life crisis.

alligators welcome

Old decaying fence gate leaves a huge opening welcoming critters.

My home sits on what was swampland thirty years ago. Just beyond the useless fence is a rough conservation area complete with a small body of water and a ten foot alligator that I occasionally hear crying out for a mate. His cries sound more like an angry lion so I don’t know how that’s working out for him.

This is also home to countless rattlesnakes, racoons, and armadillos. Welcome to wild kingdom. Hold on while I change into some Jack Hanna safari gear.

the perp


The Runaway

The perp: Lily. My friend’s beautiful black cat

Answers to: Nothing.

Afraid of: Everything that isn’t adventure – especially fake animal trappers.

Problem: She’s hanging out with 2 other black cats. Who doesn’t want to stay with their friends?

Doesn’t she just look like she is up to something?

The Sighting

I know it is bad luck to have a black cat cross your path but what if you have 4 wandering around your yard. (I’m throwing my next door neighbor’s black cat into the count here.) Is that exponential?

My daughter spotted the gang first, so I ran outside and called Lily’s name. There she sat at the opening to the hangout looking at me. Attempts to coax her to the bowl of dog food I had in my hand only led her to take a small step toward me. She nervously looked over her shoulder as if to say, “I’ve gotta go…my friends are waiting and I’m going to miss the mouse hunt.” Eventually she disappeared.

The Animal Catcher 2000

Animal trapper 2000 - When you are looking for a wildlife adventure.This sighting led to the trap being set at my house. Before the PETA people rage on, it is a humane trap. Baited and set, we waited until dusk when the gang sets out on their nightly escapades.


Coming to check on the trap, my friend announced “We have a cat, but I need a flashlight.” It was very dark in the corner of the yard, and the cat was hissing. A few feet away in a pile of brush we heard a lot of commotion and guessed her friends must have been freaking out over the situation and hatching a plan for springing her from the trap. I think I caught a glimpse of a hat with a “no cat left behind” motto.

Turns out it was the wrong cat. She was released and the trap was reset.

Wait that’s not a cat

An hour later I broke into the emergency hurricane kit supplies to get a working flashlight and ventured out to check the trap. Something was growling and moving frantically in the cage. Shining the light, I was met with the glowing eyes of a wild animal. A raccoon. He wasn’t much bigger than a baby, but he snarled and growled as I approached.

At this point I questioned my choice of trapping attire which was shorts and flip flops and imagined it being released only to turn and bite my leg.

Not having opened the trap myself, I had to fidget a bit to figure it out. Meanwhile he jumped at me in an attempt to bite me, and I was thankful there was metal between us. I’m not sure who was more scared.

Never attempt negotiations with a wild animal. In a sweet, calm voice I explained to him that I was getting him out of there. He wasn’t listening and continued jumping at me while growling which cause me to jump back every time and scream. We continued this dance for several minutes.


They look so sweet in the daytime.

Finally I managed to open the door, and he raced to the conservation area like a bolt of lightning. A blur into the dark night. Figuring he learned his lesson, I reset it and returned to the house. Releasing a wild animal from a cage is an adrenaline rush, and my heart was pumping.

Twenty minutes later I was releasing him AGAIN. This time he was REALLY ANGRY. I had the door propped open and he didn’t even notice. I shined the light in his face and explained the door was open after lecturing him on not learning his lesson the first time. Being the rebel he was, he continued to hiss and growl…then it changed to a babyish feel-sorry-for-me whine. At this point I had to guess he didn’t understand English, baby talk, or terror-induced screaming. Once he finally turned his head to see he was free, he was gone in a flash.

Not being able to handle anymore heart throbbing excitement, I shut down the operation for the evening.

I’m switching to day trapping only. It’s scary walking into my backyard at night, and I just can’t take the “guess what’s in the trap” game again. My friend said so far they have caught many cats, an armadillo, and now you can add racoons to the list.

Oh Lily…just go home.

Back to duty.
Trapper Melinda

PS: Update: After catching the third raccoon (this time a bigger one), Operation Find Lily was officially cancelled due to I might have a heart attack if I have to release another wild animal. You won’t see me working at Busch Gardens anytime soon.

PPS: It could have been worse. It could have been a relative of the cat, the bobcat which has been seen several times in my yard.


Mom-o-visionIt’s amazing how each day goes by in such a chaotic blur, you never really stop to notice how dirty the house is…until your mother is expected in two days.

I was unfazed by the piece of packing tape randomly stuck to the carpet until I looked at it through Mom-o-Vision.

What is that? When your eyes take on a whole new level of looking at your house from your mother’s white-gloved perspective.

Thanks to Mom-o-Vision I’m freaking out over:

1) The amount of dust on the entertainment center. I was using it to jot notes because I couldn’t find a pen. I cleaned it, and now I don’t remember my grocery list. This is my excuse for an empty refrigerator when they arrive.

2) “I love Lady Gaga!” written on the back of my dirty car. Thanks to my daughter’s artistic creativity, I’ve been driving around town doing PR work for that woman and destroying my reputation all at once. Time to get my car washed.

3) Weeds in the flower beds. *sigh* Since I killed most of the plants, I was hoping that I could get away with the weeds looking like shrubs to the Home Owners’ Association’s yard police patrol. Mom’s going to walk right past them, so I’m off to Home Depot.

4) Dirty sliding glass door. Between the dog and the four year old, this door stays clean for approximately five minutes. This task is little one’s chore, and somehow she manages to use an entire bottle of Windex with no identifiable improvement from her efforts. I have no idea where the liquid is going, but maybe I should check to see if the dog has a shimmery coat now. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I’ll clean it when she isn’t looking…otherwise I’ll be out another $4 bottle.

5) A collection of treasures in the couch. Score! I found a brush, $1.46 in change, 14 candy wrappers, 4 Polly Pocket dolls, 3 mints, and the missing phone. Gotta love kids. I watched Mary Poppins last week, which is why when I reached way down in the couch I momentarily wondered if I could pull a lamp out of it. Come to think about it, I could use Mary Poppins’ snapping magic to make the pile of toys march back to the appropriate rooms.

If I miss anything I’ll just blame it on the fact that I still don’t have my new glasses. I couldn’t see the peanut butter all down the side of the container that the kids left. Give me a break. I’m blind!

What I could have done with $900

Gucci bagOver the past three months, my dog has cost me a grand total of $900. Is he worth it? I’m still thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the dog. You do, however, have to understand that I was outvoted on adding him to the family. We have the world’s only non-barking Sheltie. I think that’s because when he arrived, my daughter was still taking naps. I may have said “No barking!” to him 1000 times, so that could be my fault.

He did spring into action a few times when wild animals were outside the window. Standing in military-like attention and with great urgency he barked as a harmless armadillo wandered into the porch. However, his wild animal notification skills proved to be useless when it comes to watching the INSIDE of the house. A mouse ran free for months, and he slept through three snake incidents.

The latest expense was for removing a bad tooth and a dental cleaning. A dental cleaning, by the way, is about $300 for a dog and about $90 for a child. After realizing I couldn’t just throw a baseball cap on him and take him to the kids’ dentist, I gave in.

I was just thinking about what I would have rather spent $900 on:

  • 1) Trip to the beach with the kids
  • 2) A new TV
  • 3) The Gucci bag I drool over in Nordstrom’s while window shopping in the “I can’t afford to even look at that” section.
  • 4) A trip for 4 to Universal Studios to see the new Harry Potter world
  • 5) 5 trips to the salon to aid in the denial that I have any grey hair
  • 6) A cool wooden castle fort with a slide for my four year old

Instead, for $900 I got his extracted tooth…in a clear sandwich baggie.

The vet handed me the molar, and the girls let out an “Ewww” in a way that was half “GROSS!” and half “COOOOL!” The technician said we might want to put it under his pillow in case the tooth fairy came to visit. My eldest daughter questioned, “What would he do with $2?” Well for starters he could start paying off that $900 tab. Let’s hope the tooth fairy is feeling generous.


$900 dog

After steering what appeared to be our $900 drunk dog, still half under anesthesia, to the car, he looked very cute as he was passed out in my daughter’s lap. Maybe he is worth it after all.

As expected, a fight ensued over who got to hold the bloody tooth on the way home.

I’ve decided to bronze the tooth and mount it.

It’s going to look fabulous on the entertainment center where the new TV would have gone.