June 07, 2012

 Awake at 6:30 on a Sunday morning!  Not in my plans to be up this early but nature called, as did several little dogs.  So, there I was, in the midst of something that, at my age, can't be stopped all that easily, when I saw a flash of movement on the floor.  I knew immediately what it was but could not move from where I sat. My first instinct, after lifting my feet off the floor,  was to scream, "SCOOTER" followed by "MOUSIE".  Then, as the small creature scurried along in front of the sink, I tried yelling "TRICKI! DUCKY! DOGS! COME HERE!".  As the mouse scampered around the doorway of the bathroom and started down the hall, I finally concluded my business and scrambled to my bare feet.

There was a time when my shouts would have elicited a stampede of little paws, running to see what varmint I had spotted.  Scooter would have led the charge, ready to do battle with any mouse that dared cross her path. Today, however, when I dashed back into the bedroom for shoes, I found a half dozen bleary eyed dogs, staring at me.  Scooter, whose head was just poked out from under the covers, blinked at me as if to ask what all the ruckus was about at this time of day.
Twelve years ago, Scooter was just a year old and that summer mice invaded the bird-room, which was closed off while the birds enjoyed their outdoor aviary. When I walked into the room, I knew instantly that there was a problem and in short order I discovered that a mouse had selected an empty bird box for her nest and was working on litter number two.  There were 16 or more mice in that room, counting the litter of hairless little babies!

That day, I truly saw instinct in action.  To my knowledge, Scooter had never seen a mouse before that day but I was frantic, trying to figure out how to deal with a mass of mice that I knew would erupt as soon as I moved the disturbed the box.  I decided that if Rat Terriers were "designed" to hunt rodents, it was worth trying Scooter as a solution tho the horde. I brought Scooter into the room, closed the door and shook the box the entire family was living in. Mice poured out and took off in every direction.  So did Scooter!

That little dog was a whirlwind, she raced from one side of that room to the other, snapping up a mouse, dropping it and going after the next.  She got so excited that a couple times as she ran past one she had already killed, she would grab it up and bite it again.  Except for the little pinkies in the box, Scooter cleared that room of mice in less than 5 minutes.  She kept hunting for another 10 minutes and for the rest of the day she would go check the room every hour or so, I suppose just in case she missed something.  Scooter remained an amazing hunter until last year,  wherever we went, all I had to do was say, "find a mousie" and she would set off, searching corners and crevices for the scent of prey.

Last year Scooter had what appeared to be a stroke. She had another a few months later. She made a fair recovery and is still my buddy but she can't see well and today I learned she can't hunt anymore, either.  She just looked confused when I told her to find a mousie.  It's sad to see her losing her edge with age although she doesn't seem to be concerned about it. She would rather stare at me these days, hoping I called her so I could give her a treat. 

Of concern for me is that there is no successor in sight. All my guys are around the same age and Scooter was the only one who ever took a real interest in hunting mice.  For me, this means I either have to start setting some traps or risk having tiny furry paws running across my toes when I get up in the wee hours of the morning. I suppose we will muster on.  It just happens that a cat was dumped in the neighborhood this week and she has taken up residence on my porch.  Perhaps she would be interested in hunting?  Or, she may just sit and stare at me, waiting for food. 

BTW, I didn't give Scooter the babies to kill, dumb part of the story, I raised the babies on an eyedropper then took them FAR away from any houses and released them when they were old enough to forage.

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