Monday, September 15, 2008

Bucket List

This is the big fellow looking for raccoons. Seriously. He spends a good part of his day and night obsessing about them.
A lot of the big old trees on our street have been cut down over the past few years because of disease. Its a crying shame because from our house you can see the canopy that starts at the foot of the street and spreads out over the neighbourhood. Its beautiful. The grandaddy of them all happens to be in our neighbour's back yard. From the park one street over you can see it towering over the near century old homes. It makes for a lot of raking in the fall. And right near the base of it raccoons love to rest, day and night.
Toronto raccoons have nothing to do with their tiny little wild brothers. They are monstrous waddling obscenities. I may as well take my compost and dump it in the alley beside my house for all the good the city issued bin does in keeping them out. Geniuses distributed tens and tens of thousands of these things - they stop raccoons like the Polish cavalry stopped the Panzers. Not very effectively.
Now while I may dislike these scavengers the big fellow hates them. The title of this blog refers to skunks and truth be told its a misnomer. He has had run ins with skunks, four in total, and the first three ended badly for him and for me, but for skunks he has respect and likely a little fear. The fourth time he saw one he noted his presence about fifteen feet away and veered hard left after his opening move. Good thing because I had no tomato juice in the house at the time.
But raccoons? He hates the fuckers. He will sense that they are beside our house and pace the length of it snarling. He hears them fighting in the trees and prays to his canine God for wings to join the fray. If he could talk he would utter the following five sentences immediately:
1/ Cut off my nuts, will ya? Tit for tat - give me those garden shears.
2/ Jesus all these years and you never had the courtesy to give me a beer! Come on!
3/ Woof. Woof.
4/ I'm going to go find myself a snoodle. Don't wait up wanker.
5/ Enough of this chicken flavoured cereal. Give me some raccoon stew, you little prick.
Unlike the skunks he's had better luck with the coons. After a year of going mental as coons climbed trees, walked on the hydro wires and slept about fifteen feet from him overlooking our yard, we were walking in a nearby ravine in February and there happened to be a little bugger sleeping in a tree. Problem for the coon is that the snow was deep and he was only about four feet above the ground. So the big guy goes bounding through the snow, gets to the base of the tree, jumps up and bites the coon in the ass. A rude awakening.
He then comes up out of the ravine with a big shit eating grin, whips out a little notebook and crosses out "Bite raccoon" on his 'Things to Do Before I Die' list.
Before you say anything, its a fairly extensive list, and he has managed to do most of it. Getting into the garbage. Check. Taking a big crap on owner's sister's bed. Check. Humping owner's leg. Check.
And since then he has two more successes with his foes, a lot more involved ones at that. He has caught two of the buggers - knocked one off of a fence by slamming into it - and has torn them up pretty good. If he were to pass on tomorrow he would be a pretty happy pooch. He's had a good life.
Personally I haven't a bucket list. I have a beautiful family, which is really all a man can ask for. When I was young I sowed my wild oats, as they say, no regrets there. I have travelled, not to everywhere that I want to go, but I have been across Canada and to Ireland, Scotland and England. Spent some time in Dublin and London. A lot more to see and hopefully I will get to see it.
And when it comes to sports I have been pretty lucky. I remember a few years back before the White Sox won the Series reading that the odds of neither the Cubs or Sox winning all of those years was five thousand to one. Imagine! Of course the White Sox have won it all now. And the Red Sox too. But for Cubs and Indian fans the suffering continues. And imagine being a fan of the Canucks or the Kings? Jesus, not even past glories to hitch your wagon to.
As for me I have seen all I have wanted to see with only one exception. Ironically the sport that I care about the least has been most successful for me, with six Bulls' titles in the 90s. The Bears won in '85. In baseball there were back to back wins for the Jays. Even Tottenham Spurs won honours last year, after only a few years of being my team. And in hockey, 2002 was the pinnacle for me as Canada won gold in Salt Lake City. I wept tears of joy, I kid you not. Add in the other international successes, the World Juniors, the Canada and World Cups (I saw a whack of the '91 Canada Cup, including the semifinal win over Sweden, live) and everything I have ever wanted in sports has come true for me.
With one exception. Of course, its only the biggest one. Stanley.
I loved the Oilers' dynasty but they were my second team. I loved the way that they played. The genius of Gretzky, the brutish snarling Messier, the sublime sniper Kurri, the pest Tikkanen and the weird stickman Anderson, the underrated D and the cool Fuhr. A terrific team, by my estimation the greatest ever. Each year I cheered for them to take it all. Once Chicago was out.
Wirtz killed my love for the Hawks but it was nine years after the Oilers' last Cup that I changed my stripes, so to speak, nine years too late to claim a Cup as my own.
Forty years and my team has never won the Stanley.
God, if you love me, and all that is holy, you will get this done. And soon.
Thank you.


mike w said...

I can drink a bottle of Zyweic to that!

David S said...

"...they stop raccoons like the Polish cavalry stopped the Panzers."

Pricelsss. You sir, have a way with words.

(BTW - I thought raccoons were tough little bastards - something to be avoided by dogs and men alike.)

doritogrande said...

That post put tears to my eyes. Best prose in the Oilogosphere's right here.

david s: Raccoons, along with beavers are helpless little shits that can't run faster than 5kph. They're fun for grandpa to chase.

Out of curiosity, what breed's the big dude?

uni said...

Don't be giving David S ideas; you do not want to be approaching a 'coon for a bare handed fight.

A fair size dog who can handled him/herself on the other hand could make minced racoon.

Black Dog said...

Thank you thank you, I'll be here all week.

dg- Black Lab/Border Collie although I think there must be Shepherd in there too, considering the ginourmous ears.

Raccoons have a rep as being extremely tough and vicious when cornered but in the last two encounters we had both coons, while fair sized, didn't do much but act as a speedbag for your man Ben.

Soft from the urban living I guess? I certainly am.

Rob... said...

That post is why this is one of the best blogs out there.

Very good.

mike w said...

I love how raccoons instinctively "wash" their food, even when eating something inherently dirty, like an old dog turd.

But to be fair, I hear they make great pets!

Oilman said...

I honestly thought that this post was going to be how the Raccoons represent all the new posters in the sphere and the Dog was the old guard.

PDO said...

Excellent post.

Not this year.... I think we're in the dance.

But next?

All bets are off.

That Eberle kid might be a beauty contract like Getzlaf and Perry were for Anaheim in their year....

therealdeal said...

I came within a couple goals two years in a row. It was just about the most painful thing I've ever experienced.

FireFox said...


Fantastic post.

I've seen that look the big fellow has in his eyes many a time with our springer spaniel (unfortunately ours is a lot less specific about targets - groundhogs, grouse, squirrels, even bears were all fair game). At that moment - they just _live_ to chase.

Racoons seem like they should be able to put up a pretty good fight with a medium sized dog - but I guess that's not the case. Had one here in Ottawa at the bird feeder (seriously, the bird feeder - WTF) this spring and man o man did he seem like a handful when I went out there to see him off. Interesting to know. I guess they just put up a good show of being mean, but when the chips are down...

The bucket list is a hoot.



Black Dog said...

Thanks Fox.

We had one sitting on our fence a couple of years back on a cold night - I hosed it down while shouting at it - he didn't move at all.

So much of the animal kingdom is about giving the appearance of being a threat. A bear will turn tail rather then get into an altercation.

mike w. - ahh, that would explain the little wash basin and towel rack out by my green bin!

Bruce said...

At the urging of many contributors of the Oilogosphere, I have taken the plunge and made the first baby steps in starting my own blog. Oil Droppings can be found at:

First posts about the current batch of Oilers prospects are up. The blogroll is still under development, but BDHS made the first cut as one of the sites I visit most frequently. A cross-link would be greatly appreciated.

You're all welcome to visit any time. I look forward to hosting some stimulating hockey talk on Oil Droppings.

namflashback said...


wanted to ask if you would tolerate an occasional contributor to your blog. i sometimes have a few intelligent perspectives on the Oil, but not enough to start a blog myself. just wanted to see if you would open to sharing some whitespace.

my quals:
- been commenting round the sphere since the cup run
- optimist (despite the fact that this team will break my heart)
- would not turn down a 3some with Natalie Portman and Shawn Horcoff
- and this guy a border-collie rottwieler (collweiler? border rottie?) cross


Vic Ferrari said...


Personally, whether I agree or disagree, I love the stuff you write in the comments around the blogosphere.

It takes ten minutes to start your own blog, namflashback. And the cool kids will all read it if you let us know that you're out there. I have guys still on my feed reader that may very well have given up on hockey talk, but I still leave them there. If they ever decide to talk to us again, well I'll know. And surely others do the same.

Vic Ferrari said...

Good stuff as always, Pat.

And since, for over a week, nary a bad word has been said in the comments of an Oilogosphere post that was relevant and entertaining ... what is Grabia's excuse now? :D

Seriously. A stream of consciousness Andy, let it loose.

namflashback said...


Thanks for the encouragement -- I know it is really simple to do, I'm just convinced I don't have enough of a theme to anchor the thing.

Thought I'd try to sidecar on Pat's whole "got a black dog" ride. He's a little bit the narrative optimist around these parts -- kind of like Grabia's the narrative pessimist. I view myself and my Oiler's opinions a little in the same light.

Black Dog said...

You're on Bruce - good luck and look forward to reading it.

Let me think about it Norm - I've read enough of your commentary to know that it would be good stuff but my nickname isn't "The Lone Wolf" for nothing.

Seriously, that's my nickname.


Where do I find you, Norm?

Black Dog said...

As for Andy, Vic, he has no excuse. ;)