Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mouse Problem? What Mouse Problem?!

Ironically, one of the biggest arguments Brent and I used to have was about the mice in the garage. They are attracted to the hay I store there for the bunnies. I love animals and feel guilty about the heart disease research I practice (as humanely as possible) in mice. So when I saw a few mice in the garage, I chose to ignore them, believing we could co-exist. Brent decided to wage war. I guess you can take the guy out of Texas but....well, you know. He wanted to use rat poison. Glue traps. Snap traps. Anyway, I put my foot down. Absolutely NOT! What's with all the killing?

The mice, as if sensing his animosity, chewed through the electrical wires of Brent's car, requiring an expensive trip to the dealer. My truck was left untouched, however. Again, more arguing. Kill the mice....hug the the planet. You get the picture. We often butted heads over stuff like this: me the tree-hugging, NPR-listening, left-winged, bleeding heart liberal and Brent, the gun-toting, right-winged, Sean Hannity-DVRing-obsessed, conservative. Not exactly a recipe for peace and calm. And the poor mice were caught right in the middle.
Desperate, I tried to compromise. What about catch-and-release traps? I'll even pay for them! Reluctantly, he agreed. I went to Home Depot, purchased several humane, live traps, baited them with peanut butter, and dispersed them throughout the garage. Weeks elapsed. Nothing. One night, I saw a mouse run right OVER the trap. Argh. Clearly, they weren't working. The mice were too smart for that! Again, more arguing. Maybe those weren't the right traps?
After Brent went to bed, determined to buy wire (snap) traps the next day, I went on-line and ordered about 10 different catch-and-release traps. As many different ones as I could find. It's not that I have a problem with killing mice that have invaded the home. I just want it done humanely. How can you assure me that the wire traps will instantly break their neck every time and not just maim them? And was Brent going to do cervical dislocation on each poor victim to finish the job the trap had failed to do? We do so much killing and torture as humans on this planet (including me); can't we minimize our damage just a little bit?
Ironically, the traps arrived on the same day Brent moved out. Even more ironically, the mice disappeared after Brent disappeared. I guess my "pest" problem was gone. Both literally and figuratively. I returned the catch-and-release traps, stacked from floor to ceiling in boxes in the gargage. Unfortunately, with my new box of hay for the bunnies came the mice. They're baaaack! Shoot. I don't want to kill them but I don't exactly want a mouse infestation either. What's a girl to do?
Then, I got Travis. He's prey instinct is sky-high, which has been something we've been working on due to the house bunnies. Last night, I was refilling the bag of hay for the buns in the garage with Travis by my side (he follows me everywhere). The FATTEST mouse I've ever seen ran out from behind the box. He must have been 40 grams. Seriously, he looked like one of the mice I use for my atherosclerosis studies that's been on high-fat diet for 16 weeks. "Get 'em!" I squealed. Travis, ears perked, nose to the ground, began rooting behind the boxes where the mouse was hiding. Using teamwork, Travis stood waiting on one side, while I swept the mouse towards him with a broom. In a lightning-fast pounce, Travis leapt over the box of hay, snapped the mouse in his mouth, and broke his neck. It was so quick, if I had blinked, I would have missed it. There wasn't a trace of blood or broken skin. Personally, I don't think it gets more humane than that. I gave Travis LOTS of praise and a treat, he gave me the dead mouse, and I gingerly wrapped it in a paper towel and put in the garbage. Now, Travis has a new job: mouser. And we're both quite happy about it.
The story gets even better. I introduced Travis to Babs and Taz a few days after I brought him home. Unfortunately, he lunged for Taz's little, innocent, precious head. Since then, I've forbidden Travis to come into the bedroom. I keep the door close. Problem solved. He's been a saint about "STAY" when I go into the bedroom. I say, "STAY" sternly with finger pointed at his nose and he lays down. I go into the bedroom and he remains like a statue in his prone position until I return, upon which, I give him loads of praise.
This morning, Babs kept waking me at the wee hours of the morning with load, incessant stomping. A bunny stomps as a warning to alert other to danger. However, sometimes, as a nervous bunny, Babs alerts me to invisible monsters that I would rather not be bothered about. I guess she's cried, "Fire!" too many times. This morning, her stomping was insistent.
"What is it?"
"Ugh, it's okay. It's nothing."
"Babs, let me sleep!"
Upon which, I rolled over, ignored her, and tried to go back to sleep. When I finally dragged myself from bed, I saw what the problem was. I had inadvertently left the door ajar. Travis, wanting to be as close to me as possible, had pushed the door open, laid down at the threshold, and remained, statue-still, all night long, despite the what must have been, tantalizing, yummy morsels bouncing around freely in the bedroom, inches from his nose. Wonderfully obedient Travis, knowing he was forbidden from entering the bedroom, had resisted what must have been an overwhelming temptation to chase-attack-kill, and remained in the prone position at the foot of the doorway. This, only hours after killing a mouse in the garage! Travis continues to amaze and fascinate me.


Sara said...

He liked Hannity?! Really? You are much better off with Travis.

Jack said...

What an amazing dog, you have been blessed!

Steph said...

That sounds like one very amazing dog. Don't you wonder who in their right mind would have gotten rid of him? Unless they just had to because of circumstances I guess. Regardless, it's good he's made his way into your life!

Steph said...

My bad, I forgot Travis was a stray. Poor guy - he's got it good now though! :)

Wes said...

I wonder if Brent is available? He's my kind of guy? ROFL... I tease!!! Nothing wrong with your heart being in the right place. It sounds like Travis is catching on pretty quick too!

bunnygirl said...

What a great dog! I'm still a little worried for the bunnies, but dogs and rabbits can in many cases learn to live together.

As for the mouse problem, have you thought about buying some food-grade plastic buckets and keeping the hay in those? Not that I want Travis to find himself unemployed, with jobs so hard to find in this economy...

Backpacker said...

A conservative Texan? Good lord, you were dating George Bush?! Seems like a fun person to drink a beer with, maybe a one night stand, but date? I think not. I like your dog, mouse and rabbit story.