Rocket was around 3 weeks old when he was found after some cowhands at a cattle yard shot his mom. My niece was working there at the time and called to ask if I wanted to take him in, and of course, I did. My plan was to raise Rocket as a pet but as I was researching how to care for raccoons, I learned that it was illegal in my state to own a pet raccoon. I reached out to a local rehabber and she worked with me to prepare Rocket for release.

Do you want to go outside?
Do you want to go outside?

At around 5 months old, Rocket could come and go as he pleased, which is called a soft release. Most of the time he would stay in the garage during the day and then come back in the house when I would get home from work. He would go on adventures in the surrounding woods and I wouldn’t see him for a day or two. As he grew older, his adventures grew longer and I wouldn’t see him for weeks or even months. But he would eventually come home to visit, eat a good meal, get loved on, and then head back out into the woods.

A few weeks ago he came home limping. He wasn’t able to use his back leg. I took him to the vet and we found out he had a torn ligament. My sister has seen him on game camera eating corn in the middle of a herd of deer, so we think maybe he got kicked or stepped on. Rocket had surgery to repair the ligament and now he looks like he’s wearing a sock on his naked turkey leg. He really wants to go back to the woods, but he has to stay home until he’s fully healed. He’s making progress.

Rocket is not a good example of how rehabilitation should work. The goal is for the animals to return to the wild and live their lives away from humans. But, I’m glad Rocket has stayed close and had the trust in me to get him the care he needed. My love for Rocket led me to getting permitted as a rehabber. Now, I’m able to foster other orphan animals. You guys love your broom?

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