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.


Comments 18

Comments

bfish
4/19/2013 at 9:49 PM
Though I come here for the DIY stuff, there's nothing I like better than a good pet story with pictures of your adorable children. Not enough space here to recount the many encounters of our dogs and cats with mice/rats and many other critters -- suffice it to say we've only had one cat (out of nine cats over the years) who actually knew how to kill mice; the others either were oblivious or just liked to play with them (kind of sadistic on the cat's part) and maybe making them die of fright.

Subgum, the accomplished hunter, was part of our largest family of five cats. After the others had tired of chasing a mouse around the inside of the bathtub, Subs would put it away. I got up to see what the commotion was in the bathroom one night. The cat was chomping down on a baby mouse and had an unbelievably ecstatic expression on her face which can only be described as giving me a perfect understanding of the meaning of "like a cat that swallowed the canary".
Wendy
4/23/2013
LOL. Subgum sounds like a warrior! I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, even when it is a bit off topic from our typical home/DIY subject matter. It was too disgusting/hilarious to not share with y'all. :-)
Karin K
4/20/2013 at 9:14 AM
Haha! Great post, complete with an Ollie picture! I read the title so fast that I thought I was about to read a lighting post. They've tasted blood now - the mice better move out.
Wendy
4/23/2013
I hope you're right about the mice moving out! Now that we have skilled hunters on the loose, the meece had better watch out. :-)
Karen
4/20/2013 at 11:33 AM
Oh my gosh I cracked up! I always wonder too what my dog would do if he actually caught a squirrel. He is so excited about them from the safety of the kitchen or the screen porch, but I have never seen him actually get to one.
Wendy
4/23/2013
Too funny. Lulu had a similar encounter last summer. She nearly caught a squirrel in our back yard, and then looked back at us like, "Holy crap! What was I supposed to do with that thing??"
4/20/2013 at 2:55 PM
Lulu is officially more accomplished than Tassy.

Meowzer has definitely had her share of kills, but she typically tortures them first, which....is annoying, and admittedly a little disconcerting as the victim squeaks their distress. Tassy jumps in on the fun, and bounces around like a lunatic, but never actually touches the varmint.
Wendy
4/23/2013
Eeew. I think I would definitely freak out if I heard the mice squeaking.

Meowzer, by the way, has to be the best name for a cat! :-)
Kerrie
4/21/2013 at 1:56 AM
I'm with Wendy. I remember the day I opened my front door to let the small cat in, and he proudly brought in a huge rat carefully unharmed as he was carrying it by the scruff of the neck like it was a kitten. Despite my frantic calls and hand waving he then proudly dropped it and frolicked (there is no other word), after it as it ran around the house for the next couple of days. I am also a lover not a fighter so I had to go out and purchase a humane rat catcher. I may or may not have revived the stupid thing with peanut butter and water once it was back outside. My memory is a little fuzzy on the first aid efforts but I knew he didn't want to come into my house - it wasn't his fault.
Wendy
4/23/2013
By the scruff?? In your house?? Oh good grief, I don't know how you managed that one. I'm with you -- I'd want to find a humane way to remove the unwanted "pet" -- but I'd probably relocate to a hotel while I let Alex, Lu and Mel work through the issue. :-)
4/21/2013 at 12:20 PM
Well done Lulu! I am the mouse-trap setter in our family (Matt is the mouse trap remover though). Jaco (our lab mix) only has one kill to his name that that is a grasshopper that he accidentally stepped on when he was trying to play with it. It got stuck in his paw and..well...you can imagine the histrionics.

Ferocious he is not, but maybe, like Lulu, his day will come.
Wendy
4/23/2013
Ahh, best of luck to Jaco. I'm certain his day will come!

I forgot to include this in the post, but one day at the dog park Ollie came running towards me with a dead snake in his mouth. Between the mice and the dead snake, I keep my hair dresser busy coloring all my gray hair! :-)
Lesley
4/22/2013 at 1:14 PM
We are well familiar with the occasion of mice and rats as downtown dwellers ourselves (Toronto), and it doesn't phase us either. Unfortunately it also doesn't phase our 85lb yellow lab, Burnie, either... In fact we think he may even consider them friends. Lying on our living room floor if a mouse breaches the dining room, the only reaction we see is his eyebrows moving as he watches it run past.

I have tried to inspire him to give chase by saying the mouse must be here to steal his food... but nothing.

I will have to continue to take care of them myself.
Wendy
4/23/2013
Hahaha! There's nothing cuter than a big dog reacting to a situation with little more than a raised eyebrow. So adorable!
4/23/2013 at 3:51 AM
Haha, fantastic blog post! Nothing better than a bit of pet humor.
Wendy
4/23/2013
Thanks! Alex's take on it was pretty funny, even if it is making fun of me!
4/23/2013 at 9:45 AM
My first dog, Freckles the Freak, was not exactly the most terrifying of canines. My sister's pet rabbit used to hump her. Yes, it was humiliating, and eventually we got him fixed so he would no longer continue his sordid behavior. Freckles did love to chase squirrels. I never expected her to catch one, though, and I don't think she did either. She caught it, shook it, dropped it and then looked shocked when it ran away. I think she expected it to behave the way the stuffed ones do. She did avenge herself on a chipmunk in my friend's apartment, however. She killed that one after a nasty battle. It is funny how our pets can behave so differently in certain situations.
Wendy
4/23/2013
That's very interesting to hear about the squirrel. Lulu nearly caught one last summer, and I wonder what would have happened. She'd probably be looking for the squeaker! :-)
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