When living in an urban environment, we've found there are a few things you simply learn to live with. The constant elevated noise level, tight living proximity, tons of foot traffic, more trash than you'd prefer, and the occasional vermin or insect issues.
Mostly, we take these all in stride. You learn to ignore the noise, you deal with the closeness and build a new sense of boundary respect, you work to clean up your messes as well as the messes of others, and you figure out ways to periodically eliminate the pests.
Since we purchased our home we've had intermittent unwanted and uninvited house guests. No, I'm not talking about human ones, I'm referring more to the scurrying and four legged type. I tend to deal with them in a less emotional and slightly more effective manner than Wendy, though I like them no more than she does.
When we mention a mouse or (gasp) rat that we've seen around or in our house, people who live in the city get it and can relate, and people who live in the country see it as a way of life and almost pay it no attention. But people that live in the suburbs are often appalled, disgusted, and often say "that's why I don't live in the city!" But almost everyone says the same thing, "Good thing you have a dog and a cat."
It's true, we have a dog and a cat, and one would assume that having both a dog and a cat may keep our vermin issues at bay, leaving us with a home and surrounding area free of little unwanted pets. Although we take great measures to prevent the undesired pitter patter of little feet in our home, one might not realize that our cat is geriatric and doesn't have a single clawed paw (he came that way), while our dog is equal parts uncoordinated and goofy. These combinations make not the Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal of mouse hunters.
Though Mel and Lulu may not be the most stealthy or accomplished hunters, our little Ollie had an instinctual nose (and tooth) for these things. Whether he was cornering a varmint that was thrashing about under the sink, or honing his skills on squeaky rat toy training devices, he knew his way around pest control.
As I mentioned earlier, Wendy doesn't really like the idea of mice in the house. We may or may not have even had an incident back around 2005 where a mouse made his way into the house and Wendy called me at work screaming about said mouse. The events that transpired will live on in infamy. Due to her somewhat hysterical and incoherent ramblings, she may have blurted the words "GIANT," "OHMYGOD," "ON THE MOVE!" I also may have put her on speaker phone in my office without letting her know. I'm not entirely clear on the details, as it did happen quite some time ago, but this may have happened, just sayin'.
After trying in vain to corner the mouse and get Mel to do his duty, Wendy eventually mustered the courage to throw a box over top of the scurrying mouse while standing on the living room ottoman. I was on the phone while this was happening as well, and at one point she believed she had thrust the box down so hard that she had decapitated the little field mouse. Once the cardboard vermin penitentiary was in place, there it sat, with the potentially decapitated mouse, for several hours, until I got home from work. When I arrived home I slid a folder under the box, determined the mouse was still alive, and I took him outside, well away from our house, and released him back into the world. I'm a lover, not a killer.
After years of disappointment in mouse hunting, Mel finally started to hit his stride in recent years. He started slow, training like the Karate Kid with fly catching, or like Rocky on the speed bag. Just imagine some great montage music playing while Mel swatted away at the hanging door toy.
His endless training continued, his skills improved, and rumor has it that he even sought a teeth sharpening service to maximize his effectiveness in the hunt. He spent one long winter stalking his prey, though he didn't kill them. Mel would corner the mice until we retrieved them (or killed them by running around and screaming like a crazy person), or he'd pick the mouse up in his mouth and come running by and drop the stunned creature at my feet. Like a gentle big cat carrying its baby, the mice were unharmed and able to go on fighting, only in another block in Old Town. But this all changed late last year!
After his emasculating experience of partial tail amputation, Mel ventured out with his courage, pride, and endless reserves of fight, and he bagged his first kill! I wasn't around to see how the whole thing went down, but it was probably not pretty for the mouse. Our guess is the mouse ventured out into the kitchen looking to snack on a little of Mel's food, but he was having none of that. In the most likely dramatic recreation, the events probably unfolded like this.
Mel noticed the mouse making a move on his food and stepped up to the unwanted visitor. "Hey, you! Yeah, you...with the mouse face. What do you think you're doing near my food. That's my food, see?" Then, with a quick swipe of the paw, he let the mouse have it, killing him in one swift shot. At least, that's what I imagine happened. Just look at the proud sense of accomplishment awash over Mel's face, seemingly at the top of the food chain, and unable to be dethroned. Hey, what can I say, we're proud of his accomplishment too.
At this point Mel, and Ollie (before his untimely departure), had proven their prowess (albeit meager) in controlling the pest population in our home, but Lulu, she remained a frustrated, frantic, and fumbling participant in the pest control arena. Sure, she has aspirations for greatness...
...but we fear she'd just be confused and overwhelmed if she somehow cornered a nemesis in the squirrel population.
Well whole confused spectator role that Lulu had previous occupied gave way to a renewed sense of conquering. Yesterday, while on her morning walk with Lulu, Wendy rounded the corner on the way into our backyard. Seemingly without warning, Lulu went from calm and goofy to a lungin' maniac, target unknown. Wendy glanced down, saw what looked like a grey rock in Lulu's mouth, then all hell broke loose.
Given Wendy's always calm demeanor and utmost tolerance for four legged rodents, I have to imagine there were some F-bombs dropped, some frantic squirming, and a little neurotic handwashing to follow, but Wendy knew what had to be done. The "gray stone" that wasn't a stone at all had to be removed from Lulu's mouth before the unthinkable could happen.
At some point during the fray, Lulu must have dropped said rodent stone, listening like a good girl, but Wendy was clearly blinded by the frantic nature of the situation and began sweeping Lulu's mouth for the fur-ball she had so mercilessly expired. I'm going to go out on a limb, once again, and say that this was likely not Wendy's calmest moment in her life as a pet owner, perhaps it may have even shaved time off of her own life expectancy.
Luckily, Lulu was listening, and she remembered her extensive training, or more specifically, her training on what to do when the command of "DROP OMG DROP DROP DROP WHATEVER IS IN YOUR MOUTH FOR THE LOVE PLEASE DROP WHAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR MOUTH OMG!!!!" is given. Laying on the ground in a little bloody mess was Lulu's first official rodent kill. If you are mildly squeamish, you may want to avert your eyes from this next photo.
Yes, Lulu captured and killed what appears either a mouse or baby rat in our back parking area. She has developed her skills over years of hard work and consistent effort, and she is now a contributing member in the Old Town Home rodent task force. In Lulu We Trust.
My favorite part about this whole story is the text message I received from Wendy. The text message had a picture attachment and a simple description:
"Any guesses why your daughter is so happy?"
I knew this was a loaded question, but Wendy was absolutely right. Lulu is beaming in that photo. She's smiling ear to ear and incredibly proud of what she'd just done. I had no idea, I was receiving this as the first text, and event had already taken place, but I knew nothing more than she was happy. It's possible that Lulu had just won the dog lottery, perhaps had been selected for the elusive promotion, or even discovered a bone she had buried long ago. Regardless, I had no idea what she did that could have made her that happy!
I soon learned of Lulu's triumph, and though I have a slight neurotic fear for the potential diseases she may have contracted from having that thing in her mouth, I too am happy for Lulu and her achievement, both in the manner she was able to accomplish a bit of extermination, and for the few moments of comical hysterics I'm sure ensued on the part of Wendy. I only wish I had been there to both witness and record the moment. You all know I would have surely shared that video with you.