I know I work too hard and my pets often remind me of this fact by inventing ways to force me to participate in their games.
Ellie, my lab, will place toys in my lap as a not so subtle hint that she is ready to play. If I don’t respond, the toys keep coming as if she just didn’t make the right choice initially. Surely I will want to play with something as her careful selection continues.
Today Hazel thought I should get off the computer and come play chase with her. At 17 years old, her mousing skills have not diminished and her quick movements and eye and hand coordination are envy warranted. That reminds me of another Hazel story and her playmate that I named Pepe Le Pew, although that’s a smelly story for another day.
I have always been amazed at Hazels mousing skills. If she could manage world travel, even at 17 + years old, she could single handedly eradicate the world’s rodent problem. Her skills are so great that she is very particular about the game and debates about how long to play with her victims and whether to practice catch and release or not that day.
Today, fortunately for the mouse, and unfortunately for me, was a catch and release day.
When she has a rodent in her mouth, she vocalizes a special meow of elation unique for that experience. While sitting at my computer upstairs, painfully trying to work on my next blog, I recognized that distinct meow coming from downstairs unfortunately just as the release was occurring.
As I ran down the stairs, two at a time I might add, Mr. Mouse was making his great escape and ran under a wrought iron unit in my kitchen that contains thousands of cookbooks and cow canisters. No jokes please. Using towels around its edges I carefully blocked off any possible escape routes. I then used food tongs and tried to grasp him under the cabinet. Hazel sat close by watching and laughing at me. How I’m still not certain but Mr. Mouse came flying out from his hiding space. The great cartoon character Mighty Mouse came to mind as I witnessed his flight complete with a little orange cape. I guess he resented the idea of food tongs snapping at his face. Go figure.
Whew, he then stupidly ran into my bathroom from which there is only one exit. I had him cornered. I closed the bathroom door with Hazel beating me into the bathroom and had him literally cornered. Abandoning the food tongs idea this time and going for the bath towel, I knew I had him. Thanks to Hazel’s great assistance, he however ran up my Levis leg instead. Thanks Hazel.
As a veterinarian I treat rodents at the hospital routinely and find them and cute but there is a difference between a sweet sick mouse owned by a loving child and a wild one up my pants leg. I would love to say I didn’t scream or react but I would be lying. Fortunately he ran out my pants leg and then somehow flattened his little body to cracker size and miracously slid under the tiny opening under my bathroom door. How could I be so stupid? That was a rhetorical question so please no response requested.
I stood up quickly, opened the bathroom door and tried to figure out which direction the great escape occurred. Ruby, my terrier X, with a great schnoz I might add, gave me the answer immediately. She had been sitting on the other side of the bathroom door upset because I had not let her participate in the mighty mouse chase game within the bathroom. She now took advantage of the mouse‘s escape and happily joined in the chase game. Unfortunately the chase ended just a short distance away under my kitchen gas stove. Rats!
I have lived in this old house for 6 years now and will confess, although I like a clean house, I have never looked under the stove until that afternoon. I would recommend that NO ONE does this. I pulled out the big drawer that contains the stuff that I never use and then I laid on the kitchen floor, belly down with a handy dandy flashlight in hand. Under the stove, I found a broken dish, a dish rag and plenty of filth. The only positive aspect was the dirty quarter I also found.
I spotted Mr. Mouse cowering in the corner so I again blocked all the escape routes with towels and went for the catch. Again, that one mm opening behind the cupboards is all that it took for Mr. Mouse, now renamed Houdini, to escape. I think I heard him snickering as he ran under my cabinets.
Not wanting to use poisons for the protection of my own pets and the desire to not have an odiferous decomposing rodent inaccessible under my food cabinets, I methodically set traps instead. Being a type A, I set six of them to increase my odds.
I used the traditional cheese bait and hoped that he was partial to my favorite of extra sharp cheddar. During this process I discovered that the traps were especially sensitive as my sore index finger would testify to that fact four times. Again, please no comments. I replaced the drawer with all the stuff that I never use part way in the opening so my own animals would not have a cheese surprise. And then I waited. And waited and waited and waited…
Waiting is tough. After 8 hours still no Houdini appeared. Hopefully while I sleep, he would either become hungry or maybe venture simply out of boredom. Tomorrow will bring bad news either way. If there is no Houdini in my methodically laid traps, then I would worry about where he went. If he is trapped, then I will be compelled to clean under my stove.
I will spare everyone the bloody details but let’s just say that Hazel and Ruby lost a lively playmate and I was compelled to clean under my stove. Now when I have someone new to my home and I give them the grand house tour and ask if they also want to see under my stove as well. Unfortunately there have been no takers so far. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.