The 'unlikely family' involving a senior dog and a baby raccoon

A baby raccoon being raised by a dog? Yeah, it interested CBC's current-affairs program Midday.

Story about dog's maternal relationship with a raccoon caught Midday's attention in 1988

The dog who adopted a raccoon

36 years ago
Duration 2:07
In August 1986, Midday viewers heard a story about a dog that developed a maternal relationship with a raccoon.

A baby raccoon being raised by a dog?

Yeah, it was the kind of story that interested the media, including the producers at CBC's Midday, who tended not to shy away from intriguing animal stories.

Back in 1988, reporter Brian Yasui brought viewers the story of a dog named Tootsie that was acting as a surrogate mother to an abandoned infant raccoon named Rachel.

"We thought it was pretty strange, too," Yasui told viewers, near the start of a report that aired on Midday on Aug. 11, 1988.

Abandoned after birth

Rachel the raccoon seemed to take an interest in checking out the CBC camera that dropped by the Hildebrandt home in Woodmore, Man., back in the summer of 1988. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Yasui explained that Rachel and a pair of siblings had been born and then abandoned by their natural mother a few months earlier.

Elaine Hildebrandt of Woodmore, Man., found the abandoned babies — one of which died.

Rachel the raccoon stayed at the Hildebrandt home, while its surviving sibling was adopted by someone else.

How long could this last?

Rachel the raccoon was drinking two bottles of milk a day, which she was being fed by members of the Hildebrandt family. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Soon enough, Tootsie began taking to Rachel, meaning the raccoon had a substitute mother, access to shelter and also dog food.

By the time Midday visited, Rachel had grown to a size that her human family would soon have to make a decision about her future.

"In a few weeks, the Hildebrandts say they'll have to decide whether they should keep this unlikely family together or send Rachel to a game farm," Yasui told viewers.

Reporter Brian Yasui is seen kneeling alongside a box containing Rachel the raccoon in Woodmore, Man., back in the summer of 1988. (Midday/CBC Archives)

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