Marco and Mia Petrucci, Clarkston, Mich., were excited to be on Sanibel the same day that Trouper came to visit. Left to right, Marco, Miss Dot, Trouper, and Mia. Photo courtesy T. M. Jacobs
Marco and Mia Petrucci, Clarkston, Mich., were excited to be on Sanibel the same day that Trouper came to visit. Left to right, Marco, Miss Dot, Trouper, and Mia. Photo courtesy T. M. Jacobs

A famous raccoon visited with island folk and tourists on Sanibel on Friday, April 25. It was not President Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoons, Rebecca and Reuben, or President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt’s raccoon, or even the lead singer of Aerosmith Steven Tyler’s raccoon.

It was TROUPER!

Kyle Miller, of Sanibel, recalled when Dorothy Lee (who goes by Miss Dot) phoned her in May 2011, and told her about a young male raccoon named Trouper. “Up in North Carolina,” says Miller, “Trouper was eight weeks old when he was sadly beaten with a golf club. It left him blind, no sense of smell, and unable to feed or even fend for himself. Just as Dot was about to give up on Trouper, she checked his cage and he lifted his head, yawned, and began to move his body.” The kit also lost his hearing, although only temporarily.

Due to North Carolina state laws, Miss Dot would not be allowed to keep the raccoon, and knowing the state would euthanize the animal, she sold everything she had and moved to Southwest Florida. From this experience, she became a certified and licensed wildlife rehabilitator, began to volunteer at CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife), and was able keep Trouper. But it was one afternoon in a bookstore where Miss Dot, Trouper, and Kyle Miller’s lives would change.

A book and television

Miss Dot picked up a copy of “Snowy Pea and the Ghost Crab,” a children's book written by Miller. That’s when Miss Dot then contacted Miller to share Trouper’s story and suggest a book about the raccoon.

Trouper and Miss DotWe began the book in May 2012, and had printed copies ready by December,” says Miller. Originally Trouper spelled his name Trooper, but Miller suggested, “let’s spell it Trouper, meaning keeping on keeping on, no matter how hard things get. After all, that is his life.”

She recalled one evening while walking Trouper around the neighborhood, they ran into a local newscaster who immediately fell in love with Trouper and his story. “Next thing you know, Trouper was on TV.”

Besides television, Trouper has a busy schedule. Once a month he is center stage doing a presentation with CROW. He also visits schools, summer camps, nursing homes, and libraries. It addition he appears at book signings, craft fairs, and children’s events. He is even tech savvy, and is gearing up to Skype with an elementary school in Switzerland and has recently created a Facebook page.

T-R-O-U-P-E-R

Trouper has become an ambassador, and Miller and Miss Dot are teaming up to create a program on wildlife for kids. It will be “Trouper’s Teaching Certified Wildlife Education Program for Children.” Trouper’s name has since become a teaching tool as well: T-teaching, R-respect, O-opportunity, U-understanding, P-protect, E-environment, R-responsibility. “Trouper: The True Adventures of a Blind Raccoon, The Beginning” is more than a children’s book, it is a valuable lesson on how to treat wildlife.

Trouper, now five years old, spent a recent afternoon at Needful Things, located in the Tahitian Gardens shopping plaza. He taught 75-100 children and adults the importance of understanding and respecting wildlife. The important lesson of the day taught by Miss Dot and Trouper was what to do when you find a wounded or sick wild animal. The lesson is STOP - Slowly back up; Tell an adult; Observe or watch the animal; and Phone the rescue service.

If you did not get a chance to see Trouper, no worries. Simply check out his Facebook page or his website (www.TrouperRaccoon.com) for his schedule. Also, be sure to look for new books on Trouper’s adventures, as there are six more slated for publication.

About the author

T.M. Jacobs, author

T.M. Jacobs is a member of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Florida Historical Society, member of the Corporate Board of the Gulf CoastWriters Assoc. and president owner of Jacobs Writing Consultants in Fort Myers. A student of the American Revolution, he is the author of several historical works, including the recently published Almost Home: The 1864 Diary of Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor. The book is available at amazon.com and has been featured in both the Santiva Chronicle and on CSPAN2'sBook TV.