Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Mouse in the House or I Didn’t Know My Son Had a Bloodthirsty Streak

Allow me first to set the stage. It is early morning, just after 5:00am (5:12, if you must know). The household won’t start moving for a little while. Everything is quiet. For the moment. Now, for those who don’t know, our household consists of me, my wife, and our 15-year-old twins (boy and girl) plus the little dog (Zooey, a 6-year old Mini Australian Shepherd) and the big dog (Jedi, a 9-month old Sith Lord German Shepherd) and, unbeknownst to us … a guest.

When Jedi woke me at 5:12, I presumed he just needed to go outside. Groggily I made my way to the patio door and he trotted out, did whatever dogs do, and trotted back in. So far, a normal, if slightly early, morning. But on the way back to our ground floor bedroom, Jedi stopped just outside the bedroom door in front of our hall closet. And he started to sniff. And sniff. And sniff. The gap beneath the door to the closet is a bit small for an 82 pound Sith Lord German Shepherd, but he tried. Then he walked into the bedroom and sniffed around the door. Back to the hall. Sniff. Sniff. Then over to a chair and a dog bed and more sniffing. I watched, thinking that maybe there was a treat that had been lost and, frankly, too tired to care (or, perhaps, think clearly). After a minute or so, he finally plopped himself down on the dog bed to go back to sleep. But that only lasted another minute or two before he started sniffing around again.

I got a flashlight and shined it under the chair but didn’t see anything. But for the next handful of minutes he would sniff and relax, sniff and relax, and so on and so forth. Finally, he and I both went into the kitchen for a little while. But then it was back to the living room and more sniffing and wandering. This continued until, I don’t know, close to 6:00? At some point, my son came downstairs to get breakfast before I took him to marching band practice. And my wife came out of the bedroom followed by the little dog.

That’s when the excitement began.

I’m not sure if Zooey could smell something or if she just wanted to know what Jedi was doing, but she went over to that chair to join in the sniff fest. And that’s when the little black mouse (well, it was about 3 inches long; does that qualify as “little” in mouse terms?) scampered out from under the chair and took off on a mad dash around the living room. I don’t know if little dog had no interest or if she was just wisely getting out of big dog’s way (he’s kind of a reckless clod), but she left the initial mouse chase to a great big inquisitive puppy. He caught the mouse quickly enough, but thought it was just a cool toy to paw at. The giant Jaws of Doom™ never came into play and the tail never stopped wagging.

Did I mention that as the action commenced, I shouted “Mouse!” to which my wife replied “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKK” (or something approximating that sound).

Things got a bit confused at that point. Wife demanded that I “get rid of the mouse”. I told her to take the dogs in the other room (as they were not likely to be particularly helpful in the upcoming mouse hunt). And I asked my son to find something we could use to trap the mouse (hoping that we could then scoop him up and put him outside). Well, there was a period of running and yelling and screaming and running and … Well, my wife found us a box from the kitchen, but it was a big box with a floppy lid and holes in it so I knew that this wasn’t going to work particularly well. But we had to make do with our given implements.

As the mad chase continued, the mouse found his (her?) way under the basement door and onto the steps. Our basement is finished with carpeted steps, so just smashing it on a wooden step wasn’t in the playbook. When my son and I opened the door to the basement (the wife was still in the kitchen with the dogs, the “EEEEEEEEEEEE” part of “EEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKK” still coming out at a defining pitch [though nearly drowned out, in part, by crazy dogs]), we saw the mouse cowering behind a small cooler that was sitting on the top step, awaiting its turn to be carried to the basement (it had been awaiting that turn for weeks…). I reached down and was able to toss the cooler down the stairs, thus depriving the mouse of his protective concealment. Victory was almost ours.

“Not so fast,” said our rodent guest. Well, he didn’t say anything. After all he’s a mouse. But he thought it. Well, maybe he did. I don’t know. I don’t know what  mice think. After all, they’re mice. But if he was a mouse in a cartoon, I’m sure he would have said, “Not so fast.”

He jumped down to the next stair and took refuge behind a book (The Dummies Guide to Cooking, I believe; I wonder if it contains recipes for black field mouse soufflé). I, being the brave soul that I am, decided that I didn’t want to reach down and grab the book, especially after seeing how fast the critter could move. So I decided to move to a stair below the mouse in order to be able to force it into the open so our Capture Box™ could be lowered into place. As I began to step down the stairs, I thought I saw the mouse run out from cover, right to the place where my foot was about to land. Have I mentioned that I was barefoot? So, as I recoiled (not in horror, mind you, just out of a concern that I’d have to wash my foot too thoroughly…), I lost my balance (hey, I’m almost 50, give me a break) and sort of fell into the wall of the basement staircase. I rebounded and tried to regain my balance by grabbing the bannister on the opposite wall … but apparently the bannister gods were against me as the bracket holding the bannister on the wall snapped in two sending both me and the bannister crashing to the ground at the bottom of the stairs.

Thankfully, only my pride was actually hurt by this sequence of events.

My son laughed. So I killed him.

OK. I didn’t kill him. But you would have forgiven me if I had, right?


From below, I was able to see the mouse hiding behind the book. Maybe he was hoping it would provide escape plans rather than detailed sauté guidelines. Anyway, I was able to reach up and push the book, hoping to get the mouse to leave concealment. My son, however, suggested that I should just crush the mouse with the book. Also, while I was oh so gracefully descending the stairs and then picking myself up and dusting off my pride, my son had retrieved the spray bottle that we use to squirt water at the dogs from time to time (well, really just the giant Demon Beast from Hell and not the little dog). As I tried to move the mouse with gentle pressure on the book, my son started squirting the mouse with an intensity that made me wonder if he was trying to drown the rodent. That’s when the mouse sort of stood up on its hind legs and started … hissing? screaming? How does one describe the sound that a tiny, frightened, pissed off, wet mouse makes while cowering behind a Dummies book?

Sadly our plan to trap the mouse under a box on the stairs was proving unworkable. And it became more so as the mouse climbed back up first one step and then the other and back into the living room (sending my son reeling backward, though I’m sure he would describe it as a graceful strategic withdrawal from contact with the enemy). But teenage reflexes being what they are, my son was able to quickly grab the box and … drumroll please … trap the mouse!

Now, if you’ll recall, the box that my wife had given us was not really designed for Mouse Trappage™ (pronounced with a French accent, please). Thankfully, I recalled seeing a shoebox in the laundry room. I quickly grabbed that and returned to the scene of our victory. The time had come to swap boxes so that we could move the rodent to greener pastures.

Unfortunately, in our effort to swap boxes, the little monster escaped. I blame my son. He, of course, blames me. But I’m older. And the parent. So I’m right. It was his fault.

As the mouse scampered away (damn those things are fast!) both my son and I tried to race after it. I, ever the graceful one, managed to step onto a dog bed which then slid across the wood floor taking one of my feet with it. Let’s just say that when I hit the ground, I did so with a booming thud, probably heard by many of my neighbors. I think my wife screamed, but that could have been the original  “EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK” still in progress.

As I once again worked to right myself, I got my turn to laugh watching my son chase the mouse around the outer walls of the living room. It was comedy. Mouse 3, Human 0 as my son would corner or otherwise trap the critter only to have it narrowly escape the descending Capture Box™. Around and around they went. And no, I didn’t make any snide remarks as my son missed, chance after chance, to catch the evil little beast. OK. That’s a lie. My snark was operating at full throttle by that point.

Anyway, as this continued for another moment or three, the mouse eventually found his way back to that hall closet where the sniff fest had begun. Now it was trapped. Right? We hoped. We opened the door to find a pair of shoes and two plastic trash bags which, I think, were full of old toys my wife planned to give to our nephews. We saw the mouse scamper from one corner to another, but we had no way to get the box on to it or to smash it.

Did I say smash it? OK. Fine. By this point the notion of more violence was becoming somewhat more appealing to me. To my son, I think this had become Call of Duty Part III: Morning of the Menacing Mouse and he was going to take that thing down. Thankfully, neither rocket launcher nor assault rifle was readily at hand. But…

As we moved the trash bags about, trying to get our shot at the mouse, a toy fell out of one of the bags. Remember those toy bow and arrow sets with arrows topped, not by a point, but by a suction cup? Well, one of those fell out of the bag, minus the suction cup. My son quickly grabbed the arrow and announced his attention to stab the mouse.

Stab the mouse? What kind of bloodthirsty little monster did I raise? And why was I so proud of his initiative?

Though he tried a few (very tentative) pokes at the mouse, no stabbing occurred. But as this was happening the mouse tried yet another escape. In the process the trash bags were dragged out of the closet … and the mouse climbed up on my son’s foot (thankfully protected by a shoe). My son was still poking at the trash bag when I calmly (well, as calm as one can be given the circumstances, which, in other words, means not calmly at all) informed him that “the mouse is on your foot!” Now it was his turn to jump and recoil (though I’m sure he will tell you that he calmly stepped away, with grace and dignity, even if that would be an outright lie). My wife continued to say, “EEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK!”

And suddenly the mouse was gone.

But not for long.

I’m not sure how he noticed, but my son saw that the mouse had managed, intentionally or otherwise, to crawl into one of the trash bags and was now in the bottom corner. Though I’m not sure it’s how I would have handled things, my son immediately stomped on the bag. And then stomped on it again. And again. I think that there was a fourth stomp too. There was definitely … um … visual evidence after the second or third stomp that we no longer had a mouse in our house.

I could tell you about the aftermath, about my wife deciding that she can never live in our house again, about my daughter coming downstairs and wondering what the commotion was all about, about the dogs racing around the house, maybe looking for more mice, about that bag of old toys going straight into the trash and not to our nephews, etc., etc. But you don’t care about that. I know. You’re just happy to know that our household, dogs and all, is once again mouse free without too much damage.

I stopped at Lowe’s before work to buy a new mounting bracket for the bannister. Hopefully no mice will be waiting for me when I get home.

A great way to start the day.

Oh, and anything that my wife says to the contrary with regard to these events or my macho performance as a mouse hunter, is a lie. Balderdash and hogwash. Ignore her.

Updated June 21, 2017: Typos corrected.

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At Tuesday, August 18, 2015 10:56:00 PM , Blogger Schmedly said...

Time to get a cat.


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