A ‘wild raccoon’ may be spotted wandering the streets of Blackpool – but all is not as it seems.
The furry creature more commonly associated with rooting through dustbins outside American homes is more likely to be the rare ‘raccoon dog’, an East Asian breed of canine that bears a striking resemblance to a raccoon.
Raccoon dogs are hunting dogs – in the wild they’ll hunt for food – but Kekei has been hand-reared since she was born. She’s never wanted for food. She will have no clue what to do
The dog, named Kekei, disappeared from Stanley Park on Thursday after her lead broke and she bounded away.
Owner Michael McKenna, 51, has appealed for the return of his beloved pet – but fears her unusual appearance will cause people to peg her as a wild animal.
He said: “I’ve been out looking for her all day and night.
“Raccoon dogs are hunting dogs – in the wild they’ll hunt for food – but Kekei has been hand-reared since she was born. She’s never wanted for food. She will have no clue what to do.
“She’s not used to other people and she’s very timid. It’s in their nature. She’ll probably be hiding somewhere until it’s dark, and then she’ll come out.
“If people see her they wouldn’t think she was a dog. They’d think she was a wild animal. They’d probably think she was a wild raccoon or a fox.”
Raccoon dogs – or tanuki as they are also known – enjoy a rich history in Japanese folklore. Rumoured to be masters of disguise, folk tales tell of raccoon dogs using magical powers to change their shape and disguise themselves as humans.
But Michael, who works as a bricklayer in North Shore, believes it is much more likely that Kekei has simply gotten lost.
He said: “I keep thinking about her hiding somewhere confused and crying.”
He added that Kekei is unlikely to approach people she does not know, and has asked people to contact him immediately should they see his beloved pet.
Have you seen Kekei the raccoon dog? Contact Michael McKenna on 07482942229.