If you have never lived in a drought area, you might be surprised that one of the side effects is the attractiveness of your home to mice and other rodents. Yes, we live in a drought area.
We first became suspicious when our cats would sit very still in front of the refrigerator for 15 minutes at a time as if waiting for something to come out from underneath. But of course they could have also just been hoping we'd pull something out of the refrigerator to feed them.
St. Pauli Girl first noticed the mouse droppings in our pet food cabinet right before Christmas. We immediately went into the first stage of denial and assumed they had been there since before we moved in or the mice had gotten their fill of pet food and moved on.
A few days later, we were having happy hour at the kitchen table when I noticed a blur out of the corner of my eye. I looked around and chalked it up to an illusion. But then I saw the mouse scurrying across the kitchen floor and underneath the cabinets.
"I see the mouse," I whispered as I remained as still as possible. "It's under the cabinets and looking right at me."
St. Pauli Girl wanted to get closer to see, but I urged her to remain still as well. The mouse moved a few steps closer and looked at me again. I'm not sure why I waited for it to get closer. I doubted that I could dive on the floor and catch it.
The pet food cabinet had originally been the location of the kitchen sink when the house was built 50 years ago. So it had ventilation holes in the bottom of the cabinet that hung out over the floor. The mouse looked at me one last time then ran to the cabinet and climbed up inside through the ventilation hole.
"Ha! He's trapped," I shouted as I jumped up. "We've got him now!" I ran to the other room and grabbed one of our cats. "Dinner time," I told her.
I carried her to the kitchen and set her in front of the cabinet. I pulled the cabinet door open. "Go on, get the mouse!"
The cat just looked up at me as if to say, "why did you wake me from my deep sleep?"
She stood still, and if she smelled the mouse, she really didn't care. But then my plan backfired as our dogs, old Bo and puppy Bonny, saw the cat on the floor and immediately charged. They all took off running, screeching and barking to other parts of the house. We were on our own.
We pulled the various pet food containers out only to find an empty cabinet. There were more ventilation holes in back through which the mouse had probably gone back into the wall.
Now that we had an actual mouse sighting, we went from the denial stage to the hunting stage. We bought several mouse traps and placed them in strategic spots throughout the house. But three days later, the traps remained empty.
A few nights later, we sat at the kitchen table again when I once again saw the mouse creeping along the floor beneath the cabinets. This mouse was huge; he made Gus from the Cinderella movie look like Dolph Lundgren. Apparently he enjoyed our generous servings of pet food. He tried to climb up into the pet food cabinet and got stuck. But this time, the dogs were on it; I didn't even bother to wake up the cats.
Bonny immediately latched onto the mouse's tail and tried to pull it out, but the mouse put up a fierce resistance. After several minutes, the mouse finally came out of the hole in a desperate attempt to escape. But the resilient Bonny kept at it, grabbed the mouse in her mouth and appropriately carried it to the dining room.
We didn't want Bonny to dismember the mouse in the dining room so we encouraged her to take it outside. Big mistake. She lost her grip, and the mouse scurried away.
A few nights later, we were relaxing in front of the fire in our living room with Bo and Bonny sleeping at our feet. Our cats were sleeping somewhere far away, probably in the lushest chairs they could find.
Suddenly St. Pauli Girl yelled, "The mouse!" as it scurried out from behind a curtain.
Bo and Bonny jumped into action chasing the mouse back behind the curtain. But this time they would not be denied. The mouse darted about, but they kept after it. Finally, Bo, who is about 98 in human years, managed to grab the mouse in his mouth. Sensible Bo headed straight for the door where we let him outside to finish up the grisly business.
Later we hailed Bo the conquering hero while making sure we didn't make enough noise to wake up the cats. So apparently you don't have to teach an old dog new tricks which is great because you can't teach cats anything.