We finally installed our second garage door opener this past Christmas and what a luxury it is not to have to get out of the car to open or close the door manually every time we go out. We did it the old fashioned way for years and I admit that there were times when we just left it open to save ourselves the inconvenience. That was before we discovered that the open door was a tempting invitation to the local wildlife to come in out of the cold.
We’d had an occasional bird find its way in but that wasn’t entirely unexpected. I was considerably more unnerved the morning I stepped through the connecting door into the garage to be confronted with evidence that something much larger than a bird had been inadvertently locked in overnight. There were muddy tracks all over the hood of our car and my husband, Bev’s workbench was adorned with a pile of droppings that had certainly not come from any bird. A closer examination of the paw prints on the car confirmed that our intruder was undoubtedly a raccoon. I took a quick look around, half expecting the beast to jump out at me from some darkened corner. I didn’t see anything but that didn’t prevent me from scurrying back into the house where I reported my findings to Bev and left the whole thing in his capable hands.
An hour later he came in still armed with a flashlight to announce that it was indeed a raccoon and that he’d discovered its hiding place. Apparently there was a small opening near the rafters in the garage that led to a narrow space between the roof and the ceiling of the adjoining front porch. The coon was making itself at home in the farthest corner of that space and Bev said it looked to be the size of a small Volkswagen in the feeble glow of his light. He went out to the porch and stood gazing speculatively at the ceiling for a few moments.
“It’s probably going to want to stay right there till dark,” he mused. “I just don’t want it to decide to take up permanent residence.”
He opened the garage door to provide an escape route and then proceeded to try to drive our unwanted guest out of its secure bolt hole. He put a thick padded glove on the end of a broom handle and used it to pound relentlessly on the ceiling at the point where he judged the raccoon to be resting. There was some slight scuffling but none of it was moving in the direction of freedom. When it was obvious that a new tactic was needed, Bev abandoned the broom and went to fetch a portable radio. He set it up directly below the spot where the coon lay and tuned it to the most abrasive music he could find before cranking the volume up to an unbearable level.
“At least it won’t get the idea that this is a good place to sleep,” Bev announced, his smile grim.
I nodded mutely and went to look for earplugs. In the meantime, Bev went back out to the garage to rig up a makeshift trap. He took an extra large plastic garbage can and secured it to the edge of the workbench so it couldn’t be tipped over. It was deep and the sides were smooth and offered no purchase for climbing. He placed an open can of sardines in the bottom of the can thinking that the raccoon wouldn’t be able to resist the odorous treat and would end up jumping down after it only to discover it impossible to climb out again. He positioned a few empty soup cans on the workbench so that he would hear the raccoon’s approach and then retreated into the house to wait.
It was late in the day when we heard the rattle and crash of a soup can rolling to the concrete floor and knew that our hungry visitor had been lured from its hiding place to investigate the tantalizing scent of sardines that had been wafting around the garage all day. Apparently raccoons are not as stupid as we’d hoped. Not even sardines could tempt it into that garbage can once it learned that the can wouldn’t tip over. By the time Bev got out there the coon was gone.
“Waste of a perfectly good can of sardines,” he muttered as he inspected the scattered soup cans and the empty trap.
He was able to find fresh tracks leading outside and he wasted no time in locking everything up so that there would be no returning. The hole leading to the space above the porch ceiling got sealed up that very night and the next day he borrowed a proper live trap to set up just outside the garage. The raccoon was eventually caught trying to find a way back inside and we were able to get rid of it at last.
That whole experience made it clear that leaving the garage door open for the sake of convenience was a choice with consequences. We were just going to have to bite the bullet and get out of the car to open and close it every time we went out…or maybe not. I probably owe that raccoon a debt of gratitude because that was when the idea to invest in a garage door opener was born.