It isn’t often that one can point to a dachshund as the harbinger of doom, but there was our wiener dog, Clyde, poised for an early morning hunt next to the refrigerator, whining and wagging his tail furiously. “I have cornered a mousie,” his stance told me, “and I will have its head within the hour.” Four hours later, he was still in his hunting posture, but had moved to the front of the dishwasher, an ominous sign that the mouse was on the move. By late afternoon, he had given up the hunt for his perch in the front window, where he growled at joggers and squirrels, the mouse forgotten for prey he could actually see. I hoped that Clyde’s snarling, scrabbling presence had encouraged the mouse to move back to the basement, where there are traps. An electronic device that pulses annoying (to rodents) high frequency noise through our wiring has kept them from venturing upstairs, and we know the traps downstairs have been doing a good job, for the most part. We haven’t had a mouse upstairs for a couple of years—that one came in from the garage and was quickly dispatched by the dog—but we do occasionally find victims of the traps downstairs; free peanut butter is the best the basement has to offer, but it comes at a sacrifice.
We had had baked potatoes for supper, something I remembered when I opened the silverware drawer to get a spoon for my tea the next morning, and found a couple of pieces of dried potato peel in the tray. I puzzled for a moment: could the peels have fallen off a plate into the drawer? Then I remembered Clyde’s hunt and removed the tray, washed all the silverware and the tray and the inside of the drawer and the drawer liner, shuddering the whole while. The next morning, my nice clean drawer was unmistakably fouled by mouse droppings. As I pulled the drawer open farther, a sudden movement made me jump and shriek, but it was only a green bean tucked under the spoons. My declaration of war on all mousehood was strewn with epithets worthy of General George Patton.
Chris had left Friday on a skiing weekend, thus, I was stuck in the role of pest control until Sunday; it is not a role for which I have any talent, nor is it one I happily embrace. I did the best I could, thoroughly cleaning the cupboard under the sink, where our trash can is located. There is treasure hunting, and then there is finding a half chewed avocado pit, potato peels, and bits of carrot scattered around inside one’s kitchen cupboard—all indications of a pest, and I spared little affection on the fact that the critter is vegetarian. I tackled the silverware drawer again, adding a good soaking with disinfectant to the routine (making a mental note that I really should just buy a new one), and then I left the drawer out, removing the little beast’s storage unit. There were no new surprises in the cupboards or drawer the next morning.
Chris bought new mouse traps and set them in strategic places in the kitchen and basement. We had a few moments of confusion when I thought he had asked where the peanut butter was and he had actually asked where to put the kitchen traps. He was a little surprised when I calmly answered “in the top cupboard, next to the hot chocolate mix”—expecting me to be more upset about finding a mouse at that altitude—we had a good laugh when he showed me where he put the traps. Less than 24 hours later, the basement traps yielded two victims: cute little brown and white field mice, one slightly obese, despite what is said about vegetarian diets. We named them “Bonnie and Clyde” (with apologies to our canine Clyde) because of their felonious behavior and tossed their bodies unceremoniously into the outside garbage bin. We’re hoping that Bonnie was on birth control.