SUZY BELL-RINGER RACOON
Once upon a time there lived the most interesting woman. Her name was Eleanor Dater. She knew
everything there was to know about our animal friends. Oh, how I looked forward to my visits with
her and reading her column 'Nature Notes' in 'THE HOME AND STORE NEWS'. I
especially enjoyed hearing about her raccoon friends. Why, she even taught some them how to ring a bell when they wanted a tasty treat!
This is the story about Susy Bell-Ringer Raccoon as it appeared in the February 11th 1970
issue of the Ramsey New Jersey Home and Store News.
"Susy Bell Ringer died Saturday morning, February 7, outside the entrance to her living quarters under
the porch. I found her ailing and looking sick about eight o'clock. I made her a dish of scrambled eggs,
gave her a sponge cake, her favorite marshmallows and, most important, a pan of water. I watched her from the bay window for the next two hours.
She pulled the eggs and the cake into her house and then came out and immediately went to a bank
of snow ice, opened her jaws a tiny bit and tried to melt the snow for a drink and cool her very
hot body. At first she didn't see the pan of water. Her eyes were not functioning properly.
Suddenly, she found the water, and actually put her whole head in and tried to drink, but wasn't
too successful. She then put her paws in and then her hind feet. She put a marshmallow to soak
and tried to eat it. Finally, she attempted to lie in the water, but the pan was too small, so she laid
down beside it and in a few minutes, she stopped breathing.
Suzy came to us seven years ago (she was in her eighth year) along with her brother as tiny cubs.
Patrolman Banta and his brother, then young boys, found them in their back yard. The cubs mother
had been killed on the railroad tracks. From then on it was a struggle for existence, with lots of help from us.
Coons are like human babies, they like a warm canned baby formula fed to them via a plastic
nursing bottle with a regular nipple. They enjoy a small amount at a time at frequent intervals.
They like a warm basket or box for a home. It should be lined with paper towels over an old newspaper.
When the cubs are strong enough to survive on their own, they are sent back
into the wild. It is always sad to see them go.
Susy has been a true, constant and friendly pet. She has lived outside in the wild,
coming here each day for her food.
She had several families. Last year she had none. She always brought her cubs to
be fed and tried to teach them to be friendly by setting a good example.
I could pet her any time. She always fondled my hand when I fed her marshmallows, as though to say
Last year she acquired the bell ringing habit to let me know that she and her friends were
available for more food no matter what time of the night it was. She was always the demanding one!
One year she broke tradition and engaged Mr. Nearing's attic for a nursery. The kitchen ceiling
wasn't strong enough for her and her five cubs; so they landed on the floor one morning at two a.m.!
She then moved them to the space over Mr. Nearing's living room. He discouraged that! By that time
they were big enough to be brought back home and under our porch. She has never left her home under the porch since she was evicted from Mr. Nearings!
We have buried her in our back yard. As soon as weather permits, I will plant an eleagnus shrub on
her grave. The shrub will nourished by her and produce lovely berries that will feed the birds, Aphids
will enjoy feeding on the leaves, and the ruby and golden crowned kinglets will delight
in eating the aphids. And the shrub will furnish oxygen to the air for us to breath.
In this way, and through her cubs and their cubs, Susy will attain what we all covet and call
'eternal life', and Susy Bell Ringer will live on Forever!