Critters Get The Last Laugh


Where I live, sandwiched between Route 66 and Sunset, it’s cars and concrete. Walk your dog off-leash, you’re asking for it. This isn’t the habitat that springs to mind when you’re talking wildlife.

So imagine my surprise when our first week here, we woke to what sounded like someone dragging a carcass across the roof. We peeked outside to discover a robust raccoon, built like Buddha, settling into the Jacaranda tree.  An auspicious sign.

In the wee hours, I’ve also seen coyotes roaming the flats. Last summer, my neighbor fetched the paper while a coyote fetched his poodle. Luckily, he ran down the coyote and saved his pooch. Coyotes usually stalk cats or rats.

My mom knows rats. Recently, she pointed an accusing, manicured finger at our woodpile, claiming it attracted them. Next morning, my husband asked me about the half-eaten banana in the kitchen. “It wasn’t me!” I protested as I peered at a suspicious, brown turd on the sofa. Until the exterminator filled his traps, we moved in with mom. My husband was thrilled.

Up the block my neighbor (@Carpool Goddess) got cozy with rodents, when possums resided in her garden. Her retriever Buddy kindly brought one of the babies inside so she could get a closer look.  Buddy found others. In the pool. By the roses. Beneath the dryer.

A hole in his roof led my friend Harold to square off against a squirrel. Harold came armed with a tennis racquet, shorts…and nothing else. This critter took over his son’s bed with a bad-ass attitude. Harold swung cross-court, vanquishing the varmint to the bathroom, but lost the advantage when, instead of exiting the window, the squirrel sunk his claws into Harold’s bare back.  In Squirrel v Harold, Harold did finally triumph, but the bloody scratches on his shoulders took some explaining to his wife.

Another squirrel played party-crasher to Elaine’s new Architectural Masterpiece created with world-famous designer Timothy Corrigan. This critter hopped from one priceless furnishing to the next. I shepherded the pest toward the door, but he thought the silk curtains looked way more fun. All this time, I thought I had a “way” with animals. Elaine’s golf nut husband not only plucked the squirrel onto the end of the broom as easily as if he were scooping up a ball with his putter, but also paused for a photo op. I skulked home in shame.

Word of my failure spread to the critter community. Oh, how they talk. That balmy evening, our dog Sunny let loose a tortured whine. A pungent odor overtook me as I scrambled outdoors to face my nemesis: a skunk, no bigger than a tabby. I backed away, beaten. Those people who recommend tomato juice or dish soap to remove the stench? They’re kidding. It just goes away on its own – about a month later.

Los Angeles sports more exotic cars than animals. Just don’t tell that to the wildlife. They’re having way too much fun.