40: Masked Bandits

40: Masked Bandits

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Masked Bandits

I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.

~Frank A. Clark

My dad prided himself on the large, bountiful gardens that he oversaw every summer. He beamed over the juicy tomatoes, crisp radishes, and refreshing watermelons that he produced; however, he was most pleased with his sweet corn.

Yet there was one minor problem with Dad’s garden: it was located right next to a wooded ravine with a stream—prime raccoon country. And any gardener worth his salt knows how much raccoons love sweet corn.

And so it went that summer. Upon inspecting his beloved garden every morning, Dad would find telltale raccoon tracks in the soft, tilled dirt. Then he would discover bent-over corn stalks containing empty shanks where ears of sweet corn used to be.

At first, my dad tried a friend’s recommendation. Dad ran an extension cord from his workshop down to the garden, and plugged it into my portable radio. Figuring that the all-night musical onslaught would scare the ring-tailed bandits away, Dad smugly went to bed that night.

However, the next morning’s inspection revealed that the raccoons had ravaged his sweet corn again. Dad joked to his friend that not only did the masked marauders still get his sweet corn, but they even changed the radio station!

Thus, Dad must’ve figured that the next best thing to protect his sweet corn would be a live, human guard—namely, me—and my faithful canine companion, Queeny. A mixed-breed mutt that we had rescued from the local dog pound, Queeny was my best friend. We did everything together, so this would just be another adventure. Besides, her eyes, ears, and nose would be indispensable in detecting any raccoons.

So in my youthful ignorance, I allowed my dad to talk me into sleeping out by the garden with Queeny.

There I was—ever vigilant—atop a small hill that overlooked the garden. I was lying on the ground in a cheap sleeping bag meant more for a Friday night sleepover than a hot, mosquito-infested night in July. Next to me lay my trusty ol’ Daisy BB gun. At the end of my sleeping bag lay my faithful Queeny. Refusing to sleep, she was poised to pounce on anything. I also had a couple of pieces of cold pizza that Mom had wrapped in aluminum foil next to my sleeping bag.

Under a full moon and a starry sky, this impromptu guard station began its watch. Queeny and I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.

Eventually, I dozed off.

Suddenly, Queeny barked.

In my sleeping bag, I sat upright.

Queeny bolted for the garden.

I unzipped my sleeping bag and leapt up.

Queeny disappeared into the corn stalks.

I grabbed my BB gun, cocked it, and ran after her.

Queeny chased something into the wooded ravine.

I lost sight of her.

“Queeny! Come here, girl!” I shouted.

Within seconds, she was back by my side, running excited circles around my shins. “Nice job, girl!” Queeny and I turned about, and traipsed back through the corn stalks.

“By God, Queeny,” I boasted, “no raccoon is going to get any sweet corn on our watch.”

Queeny and I departed the garden and marched back up the little hill. At the top, I sat down upon my sleeping bag. There, I lay down my BB gun, and scratched Queeny behind the ears. Then I looked about.

My pizza was gone.

~John M. Scanlan

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