Pocket change and Racoons.

1970 about, West Vancouver. I rented a house at 11th. & Esquimalt for a few years, just me and “Larsen” my St. Bernard dog. When he was outside in the yard, he was always on the loose, never on a chain or leash. he often took the same trip alone, as we did together, down to Marine and 15th. Crossing that busy road on the green light, and then along the beach, and he always went for a swim, he loved the water. St. Bernard’s don’t run, they walk at a leisure pace, and he did not care much for other dogs, so he was fine on his own, although he did not ask for a permit to take such a trip alone.

At 15th. & Marine Drive was a corner shop, owned by a Chinese family, I knew them, and they me, I stopped in almost every evening on my way home, a bachelor don’t need much, and they had it all. Some years later when I was living in sin, and later married, I always bought flowers and roses there, they had a very good selection. All girls like cut flowers.

This one evening I noticed a crumbled dollar bill, and some change on a shelf in the back of the store. I could have put it in my pocket, nobody would have noticed, this is many years before cameras, just a round mirror with the cash register. I brought the bill and the change to the owners, and told them where I found it.

Later that evening I got a call from a man, he was crying, and had difficulties talking to me. He had sent his small son to the store for some cigarettes, and asked him to bring the change back home. The kid came home with out the change, and he got a beating from his dad. The kid insisted, and they had walked to the store together to look for the change.

At the store, the owner gave them the change back, and confirmed the boys story. The father was ashamed for the beating, proud of his son that told him the truth, and when he called me, he could hardly talk, the emotions took overhand.

My Chinese friend was also touched by the story, he had seen it unfold in front of him, he reminded me of it often, and told many about it. I never met the father and the kid, but they lived in the very local area.

“Larsen” had another gift, he liked raccoons, and West Vancouver is full of them. At this place he had a dish outside, with a bucket of water. Ever evening a racoon family came by at feeding time, they helped themself first, the dog would sit and watch them, as if it was part of his flock to watch over and protect. When the raccoons were finished, then he cleaned up the dish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHJOFBcqIKk a racoon family getting dog food on the steps

Later at Queens Ave., there was among the raccoons, a very large one, without a tail, surely lost in a dog fight. He was a regular visitor, and easy to recognize. raccoons are “washing bears” in most european languages, and Davy Crockett made the tail famous on his hat. It is funny to watch, they grab some food, go to the bucket of water and wash it, eat some, wash some more; and it is a long ritual.


I had the pleasure of seeing a racoon fishing, fish is their favorite food. I was fishing on the other side of a nice stream, and the racoon did not care about me. I caught that day, six large steelhead, don’t tell, but I gave 5 to the cook in the camp, and only kept one. The racoon caught a smaller trout, washed it, took a bite washed it more and carried so on.

The fresh trout came straight from the river, how dirty could it be ? I guess it is just a ritual, we people have some rituals too, including some strange ones, from a raccoons point of view.

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