I was watching TV the other night when suddenly, both dogs jumped up, ran out to the kitchen and started growling at the refrigerator.
I had no clue why the refrigerator was upsetting them. I started wondering if maybe the chicken I’d bought earlier in the day had come back to life and was walking around and clucking inside, or something equally as bizarre.
I went out to the kitchen and noticed the dogs’ attention was riveted on the area underneath the refrigerator. So, brave soul that I was, I pulled it away from the wall. A tiny mouse scurried out and headed straight for the basement door, then squeezed underneath it and disappeared.
Not wanting to give the mouse any opportunity to return to the kitchen, I rolled up a towel and stuffed it into the gap under the basement door. I then made a mental note to go to the hardware store the first thing in the morning and buy a mousetrap…preferably the non-kill variety.
An hour later, my dog Eden, with the shredded remnants of the rolled-up towel hanging out of her mouth, came trotting into the living room. I sensed it was going to be a very long night.
I wasn’t thrilled with the selection of non-kill mousetraps at the hardware store the next morning. There were dozens of things that poisoned, maimed, flattened, impaled and even exploded mice, but only one that didn’t cause pain or suffering. It was an opaque-black plastic tube with a pull-out door on one end. The door balanced on two thin legs, which, when the mouse entered the trap, were supposed to collapse and cause the door to shut, trapping the mouse inside.
I brought the trap home, shoved some peanut butter into it, then set it on the basement floor.
Later that night, I checked the trap and noticed the door was shut. Something obviously had dared to crawl inside.
The problem was, because the trap was made of opaque black plastic, I couldn’t see what I’d caught. For all I knew, it was some hideous subterranean creature that, when I freed it, would leap up at my throat and tear out my jugular (OK, so maybe I’ve been watching too many science-fiction movies lately).
I carefully picked up the trap, stuffed it into a zip-close plastic bag and zipped it shut. Then I carried it out to the car and drove about a half-mile up the road to a snowmobile trail in the woods. I walked a short distance on the trail and came to a big, flat rock. That was the perfect spot, I decided, to release whatever was in the trap.
Carefully, I removed the trap from the bag and set it down on the rock. Then I opened the door on the end of it, stepped back and waited for my captive to emerge. Nothing happened. I gave the trap a nudge with my foot. Still, nothing. Finally, I gathered the courage to kneel down and peer inside, all the while fearing something would jump out and sink its teeth into my nostrils.
The trap was empty.
The peanut butter I’d put inside was gone, and there were mouse droppings in the trap – but no mouse – that is, unless it had figured out the secret of invisibility.
I drove home, muttering all the way and wondering how smart mice were. I mean, would the mouse now stay away from the trap because it knew it was a trap? Or would it go into it again, because it had figured out how to escape?
I realized I had to find the old mousetraps, the clear acrylic ones I’d brought from my old house, so I actually could see into the trap if I caught something. Unfortunately, those traps were packed away somewhere in the basement…somewhere in one of the gazillion boxes and plastic tubs down in the spider-filled catacombs.
The thought of sharing my kitchen. or even worse, my bed, with a mouse, however, gave me the incentive to enter spider territory and search. I found dog collars in sizes that would fit everything from a Chihuahua to a St. Bernard. I found my old ballet costumes, which looked as if they’d been in the midst of a buffalo stampede. I found a pair of Lord of the Rings bookends featuring Gandalf and Bilbo. And, after 30 minutes of searching, I found one of the clear acrylic mousetraps. I had hoped to find at least two or three, just in case the mouse had relatives, but at that moment, I was happy to find even one.
I set up both the clear trap and the opaque one, then crossed my fingers and waited for the mouse to try again.
The next morning, I checked the traps. There was nothing in the clear one, but just like the day before, the door was closed on the opaque one. I picked up the trap and gently shook it. I didn’t hear or feel anything inside.
“Well, I’m not going to drive an empty trap back to the woods like I did yesterday,” I muttered. Still, just to be safe, I took the trap out to the driveway to check it. I opened the door on it, once again expecting to see nothing inside. To my surprise, a tiny mouse came running out…and headed straight back toward my house.
I’m beginning to get the sinking feeling I’m going to lose this war.
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