Psychologist applies coping skills to raccoons
This time last year I was looking for a solution to a problem; one in which I had little knowledge and limited experience.
I urge my patients to consider all their options to find a solution to their problems. It’s called coping skills. I’ll let you be the judge of whether I considered all the options in coping with this strange and unusual happening.
The situation began early in the spring when my wife, daughter, and I began to notice strange sounds coming from the second story of our house late at night.
We called the exterminator, who put rat poison in our attic. He said that if we didn’t get good results to call him back.
After the noise continued, we called back. This time he decided we might have squirrels in the attic, so he approached the problem differently, but the solution was still not at hand.
On his third visit, he determined that the problem was raccoons, which had come in through a vent in the roof, nested and had a litter in our attic. He said we should have to embark upon a complicated and time consuming set of steps to remedy the problem.
I sat down and tried to apply the problem-solving techniques that I teach others who want to cope more effectively with problems in life. I decided I would find out all I could about solving this problem by talking to someone who had been through it. Fortunately, a friend had just done that. He loaned me his trap, told me how to bait it and offered his sentiments and best wishes.
At this point the novelty of the situation had left me, and frustration and anger begin to set it. To make matters worse, we had a rainy spell and there was a large hole in the roof where the raccoons had gnawed their way out.
Through this hole they excited at night to begin their nocturnal roaming. I was told that to repair the roof before we were sure all the raccoons had left would cause further calamities. So we endured some anxious and tense moments worrying about the rain and witnessed even more damage than we had already sustained.
For 19 of the next 2- days we trapped a raccoon in the cage. The first few mornings I happily took the caged animal to my farm in the country and released it, but it was a time consuming chore. Then I was told by another friend that the animal control shelter would pick up the raccoon cage and return the empty cage after they had “expatriated” the raccoon. The city provided excellent service and I was most grateful.
Other “authorities” on this problem told me that once I had cleared the raccoons out of the attic I needed to put moth balls in the area where they nested so the odor would prevent them from coming back the next spring. We took this advice only to fin out that as the mothballs heated up during the day our whole house smelled like camphor.
A whole year has passed; the raccoons have not returned and I feel comfortable in saying that the problem was solved.
In retrospect, the challenge, the feelings of accomplishment, the reduction of anxiety and the frustration all contributed to positive feelings as a psychologist turned coon trapper moved on to other challenges.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 1993