Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Face of a Mouser

Look at that face.

That bright-eyed look is how he got his name. I took one look at that face and knew what I had in my arms.

Trouble - aka 'little booger' - as in 'what're you up to now, you li'l booger?'

First a bit of history - terriers are varmint dogs. They were bred to kill rats, small game and dig varmints out of the ground. Back in the days of the Plague, ratting dogs were prized. They are better rat catchers than cats. My first terrier - Rowdy was a pit bull/schnauzer who understood about 200 words, including 'get the rat' and 'take it outside.'

(When I lived in Ashtabula Harbor, we had wharf-rats that came in off the ore freighters. The damn things were bigger than cats!)

Jack Russel's are always up for a hunt or a game of ball all day, every day. They've got the prey drive of a barnyard terrorist. A Jack that doesn't want to play is sick. (This bit of knowledge saved Trouble's life when he came down with Parvo.)

Some Jacks are nuts - some are scary smart. Trouble is a cuddly bundle of muscle and 'git 'er done' that would do a pit bull proud.

Now that the weather has changed, we have mice in the house. You would think that with four small dogs, two of them Jacks, there wouldn't be a problem. But mice are stupid.

For the last two weeks, I've been hearing a mouse and seeing droppings. I've even spotted the dratted rodent scampering across the floor. He's always gotten away.

Last night he was all over the living room. I called the dogs twice, but JR's back is bothering him. He's my old Jack, the one who cleared the house of mice and the barn of rats the first time we had problems. He's the only one who knows what 'get the mouse' means.

It was just getting light, my coffee was brewing when I heard the mouse. I had Mocha the Mutt at my feet while I read my e-mail. The mouse was flopping around under the corner cabinet.

I called Mocha to follow me as I investigated. She stuck her nose under the cabinet and started to bay. (Of the 8 breeds she's got in her background beagle is one of them.) Trouble and the Frizzy came over to see what she was baying about.

Once Trouble started digging at the tile, I knew it was under there. So I started emptying the cabinet. When I could move the cabinet - Trouble threw himself into the corner.

There was a scramble, a moving shadow and a snap.

Trouble vanished (I assumed with the mouse) the other dogs were left to sniff around. I put them outside.

There was no sign of Trouble.

The whole point of having a varmint dog is that the dead varmints go in the trash. Now, how do I tell Trouble that he was a good dog and take his prize away?

This was Trouble's first legitimate trophy. But I didn't want him to eat it, because I've got poison out, or worse yet, leave it somewhere I couldn't get it.

Without the other dogs around, it was easier. Once I found Trouble, under my bed, I was determined he wasn't going to leave that carcass to rot under there. A few 'go outside' commands later, he was holding the mouse in his mouth, and out from under my bed.

Now what?

I did the only thing I could think of - I offered him a cookie.

"Wants a cookie?"

Mouse spilled from both sides of his jaw. Those bright eyes looked at me and his head tilted to one side. He walked with me to where I keep the treats.

I dug out a big one - showed it to him.

"Wants a cookie?"

Tilted head - the dilemma presented itself. He couldn't take the cookie with a mouse in his mouth.

I put my hand under his jaw, put the cookie in the right place.

"Wants a cookie?"

His little black tail wagged once. He slowly let go of the mouse, and very politely took the cookie.

Now that's a good dog!


Rosanne Dingli said...

You must put this whole thing into a story, Kat - so enjoyable, you could sell it.

Ms Kitty said...

I know, he's so cute! That little face would sell a hundred books.

I've got to get some of my other critter stories written down. I've got some good ones.

Jean Davis said...

I have a JR mix and he looks so much like your pic. They're so cute... and smart. :) He loves hunting mice and voles. We reward him with treats for doing his duty too. Works great.

Ms Kitty said...

It's funny how Jacks always seem to be thinking.

They communicate very well - given the limitations of not having speach and the limits of human understanding.