Had any uninvited mammals lurking around your home lately? Wait, don't go there -- no, I'm not talking about your in-laws or crazy avuncular types, who always demand to be the center of attention, drop in and won't leave, especially around the holidays.

No, I'm talking about the sneaky, mammalian visitors of another kind: Raccoons!

This little bandit was spied by my wife out on our patio. We were minding our own business, binge-watching something on Netflix when she looked out the window from halfway across the house and said: 'Is that Tater?' If you've read his blog, you know Tater is our Golden Retriever. He was laying at my feet trying to navigate his way through the plot of OZARK. So, I said, 'No dear, you're always right, but, in this instance, what you're seeing is not Tater, (now looking toward the window) it's just a racCOON!?!

Brian Stephenson

I sprang from the comfort of our couch, grabbed my phone and began to take pictures and video of this little dog-food-thief. Tater, oblivious to the situation, was still wishing he had his own iPhone so he could look up more information on Jason Bateman on IMDB.

Now, I realize this Raccoon, um, by the way, we named him Harvey after my paternal grandfather, wasn't exactly a WILD ANIMAL. Sure, he's not someones pet, but as raccoons have begun to find humans encroaching on their habitat in the woods, over time they've gone to a more urban setting, feasting on garbage, dog or cat food or whatever scraps they can find. They're nocturnally slinky and largely harmless.

I heard somewhere you can leave a bowl of ammonia near the presumed 'entrance' to your yard and the smell will keep them away. However, that won't work for us since Tater would be the first to investigate that. I also had a friend tell me this weekend that placing a bar of IRISH SPRING SOAP outside -- and out of Tater's reach -- might do the trick as well. Manly yes, but Raccoons hate it too.

I'll give him this: he was practicing social distancing by waiting for us to be inside and by wearing that cute mask.