I liked that the viewers don't find out that there were two raccoons until the happy ending, when we see Jasper in the barn. New viewers have to wait and wonder what will happen to Jack and Laura, along with the bigger surprise that Jasper never really died. All of the pieces are put together at the end and the characters are all happy. What a beautiful ending!
Laura finds an injured baby raccoon, and the normally sane Pa and Ma Ingalls make the unwise decision to let Laura keep him. One day, the raccoon (Jasper) decides he's had enough of being caged and walked on a leash and bites Laura and Jack; he then runs off into the woods. Pa and Ma know Jack was bitten, but they don't know about Laura's bite. Mary, the only witness, is sworn to secrecy by her sister. That very night a raccoon tears up the hen house (Laura had been giving Jasper eggs every day). Pa shoots the offending animal, only to discover it was rabid. Jack must be quarantined. When Mary finds out that rabies is fatal if contracted, she has a mini-breakdown and tells Pa about Laura's bite. For days the family agonizes over whether the disease will manifest itself or not. Of course, it doesn't, and the series continues for nine more years. Actually, in the end, as Charles prepares to shoot a constantly-barking Jack, a raccoon pops out of the barn and covers its eyes--a trick Laura had taught Jasper. The one in the henhouse wasn't her pet after all. A fine episode centering on strength in times of crisis, and genuinely tense, especially as Charles approaches the barn, 12-guage in hand.
As a wildlife rehabilitator, I was glad to see this subject covered the way it was. I was concerned when I first saw Laura getting a "pet" raccoon that the moral would be how cute they are, troublesome, perhaps, but great pets. I need not have worried. As usual, the storyline had a great lesson and this one is - wild animals do not make good pets.
I will be honest, I could not bring myself to watch this episode until I saw a later one with Jack still in it. I knew then he was not killed, so I went back and watched this then and only then. Jack is such an important family member, I could not have handled watching him die. If I hadn't already spoiled the ending for myself, I would have been a wreck seeing Charles carry his rifle out to kill the family's beloved pet. Even knowing he was going to be okay, I was on the edge of my seat. As always, Pa was right to teach Laura that Jasper needed to be wild and would not be happy in a cage and, as always, he had to do what was best for the family, even when it was tearing him up inside. Another great, moving episode.
While playing ball out side with her sister Mary, Laura breaks her doll Janet. The next day Mary finds a baby raccoon and brings him home to Laura thinking it will help her not miss her doll so much. Laura names him Jasper and her father reluctantly lets her keep him, until he is big enough to take care of himself. Jasper bites the family dog Jack, and the family begins to fear that the raccoon may be rabid. The family then begins to closely watch the dog for any sign of rabies. Mary then reveals to her parents that the raccoon also had bitten Laura. Later the family realizes that the raccoon isn't rabid and all ends well. Overall good episode of a great show.
Whilst playing outside, Mary accidently breaks Laura's china doll. Both girls are devastated, particularly when it is realised that the cost of a new head for the doll is way beyond their budget.
Trying to make her sister feel better, Mary brings home a baby raccoon who is extremely cute. Laura falls instantly in love with the animal and names him 'Jasper'. Charles is worried about keeping a wild animal but tells Laura it can stay temporarily. Delighted, Laura begins to teach him several delightful tricks. The only 'person' not impressed is the family dog, Jack, who barks at the raccoon and chases him as often as possible.
After a cage is made from which Jasper escapes, Laura is heartbroken, but she doesn't tell her father that Jasper bit both her and the dog in recent days. When an obviously rabid Jasper comes back, Charles has to kill him as the family wait to see if either Jack and Laura have rabies.
One night, when a tied up Jack is making a ruccus, Charles realises that he is indeed rabid and goes to the barn to shoot him while Caroline and the girls sob in the house. Just as he is about to raise the gun and shoot the dog whilst dealing with his own grief, he sees ... Jasper! He is not rabid at all which means that Charles killed a different raccoon and that neither Laura nor Jack have anything to worry about!
This one is a REAL tearjerker. A superb performance by Michael Landon as he contemplates the fact that his beloved daughter may have rabies and that he will have to destroy the family pet. Great work. Great episode!
Laura is playing with her doll when Mary asks her to play catch. Laura leaves the doll by a tree branch, and goes to play with her. Mary throws the ball too high, and Laura hits the tree branch trying to catch it, hence breaking the doll. Laura is devastated, and Mary feels bad. Charles and Caroline cannot afford to buy a new doll so they try fixing the old one. Mary goes to the Olsens shop to ask the price of a new doll, but she isn’t able to afford it. On her way back home, she finds a Raccoon and brings it to Laura. Laura is thrilled with her new pet and names him Jasper. Charles and Caroline are a little skeptic about her new pet because they can’t afford taking care of it. But they change their minds and tell Laura that they will give it a try. Jasper starts creating problems for the family, like running around the house and breaking furniture, making the chicken go wild, and annoying Jack. Charles tries to put him back in the forest, but Jasper runs back to them. One day Jack and Jasper start fighting again and Jasper scratches Jack and then Laura. Jack soon starts developing symptoms of rabies, and the family fear that Laura may have caught it too. Only time would tell whether she was affected or not. Will Laura be able to survive?
Even though I don't think this was the best episode, it was fun and touching to watch. Melissa Gilbert acted wonderfully as usual, but I think I liked Melissa Sue Anderson's role as Mary better in this episode, especially during the scene where she confesses to Charles about Jasper biting Mary. I was so surprised as to how well she acted in that scene.
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