Tuesday, January 18, 2011

There's a mouse in the house!

I was alone.  It was me, and my boys, against the world.  I pretended like I was empowered, like I could handle anything that came my way.  But I really couldn't.

Thankfully, my neighbors were able to keep my secret.  Christy and Rob, who lived behind me, were a godsend.  If something broke, I called Rob.  If I felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown, I called Christy.  To this day, they are more than my best friends, they are my family.  Rob has fixed broken drawers, moved heavy furniture, and saved me from scary situations.... like a mouse in the house.



I hate mice.  Mice are evil, demented, and disgusting.  Yes, I am an animal lover.  And yes, I know that they are harmless.  But I still can't stand them.  So when I spotted that small, furry, devil animal run across my bedroom floor as I was getting ready for bed one night I screamed bloody murder.

It was a reflex.  The scream came out of me, and I couldn't control it.  (Kind of like when the doctor hits your knee with that hammer tool... pure reflex)  Soon the entire house was alive and LOUD.  Joe (at about age 5, he was no longer JR, he insisted on being called Joe) and Shane both woke up.  Shane started screaming because I was screaming, Joe was running in circles crying because he had no idea why I was jumping on the bed crying.... yes.... crying.  And Magnum just barked at me.

I pulled the boys up on the bed with me and called Rob and Christy.... I could hardly talk, but eventually they understood what was happening.  Christy calmed me down, and sent Rob over to my house.  When he walked through the door he saw the boys and me crying on my bed, and Magnum going crazy, jumping up and down barking.  He did a quick inspection, and noticed that I had a gap next to the pipes under my master bedroom sink.  That was how the devil mouse got in.  "We need to put foam in that space, but we have to do it tomorrow.....everything is closed right now.  Are you going to be okay?"

I nodded.  "I guess so... what about the mouse.  I don't know where he went."

"We will have to get a mouse trap or D-con.  Will you be okay for tonight?  If you get those tomorrow, I can set them for you.  But you will have to live with it for tonight."

I just stared at him.  Is he kidding me?  That mouse might crawl up my bed.  He might bite me or the boys in the middle of the night and then we will have rabies.  Then what?

"Come on, Leslie.  You can do this."

FINE.  Fine.  Yes I can do this.  But I am not happy about it. After Rob left, I shook out the sheets on my tiptoes... because for some reason I felt safer without my feet flat on the floor.  No mice in the bed.  Good.  Joe and Shane got into my bed, and before I got into bed I made sure that the sheets were not touching the floor..... just in case the mouse thought it would fun to climb up the sheets and attack us while we were sleeping.

Needless to say, I don't think I slept that night.  Every sound, every movement, I pictured the mouse with his giant fangs trying to attack my dog in order to get to us.  When Magnum moved, I waited in anticipation, hoping he would turn into a mouse hunter and save us.  Never happened.  Magnum snored loudly that night, as I watched the clock, waiting for it to be a good time to wake up the boys so we could go to the store to arm ourselves with every and any kind of of mouse killing apparatus.... and the foam to fill in the gaps around the bathroom plumbing.

Finally, that time came.  I didn't even shower.  (After all the bathroom was infested by rodents)  We got into the car and went to the store.  I bought mouse traps, rat/rodent poison, and foam.  When we got home, I left the boys in the car while I gingerly tiptoed inside to get the phone. I brought the phone outside and called Rob.

"I've got it all.  And we will be outside...I can't go in there."

We waited in the driveway for Rob.  My next door neighbor was weeding his garden when he saw us.  "Hey Leslie!"

"Hi there," I replied.  "Bob...I have a question for you.  Do you have any problem with mice?"

He looked at me, smiling.  "This is just a bad area for mice, with the wetlands and all.  But let me show you something... they aren't really mice, though.  They are shrews."

Bob took me to the area between our houses.  "See those holes.... I have seen mice and shrews living under your house."

I didn't live in a stick built home.  I live in a glorified double-wide trailer.  There is just open space between my floorboards and the ground underneath.  I stared at the dozens of holes going between the ground and the siding.... you have got to be kidding me.  This was a rodent metropolis.  I was dizzy and disgusted.  "Thanks for letting me know," I stammered.

I quickly got a couple boxes of the rat/rodent poison out of the car... I bought ten boxes, just in case.  Thank god I did!  While the boys played in the driveway with Magnum, I went to work.  I think I put down three boxes of the poison along the side of the house.  I filled up all of the holes.  This was my house!  I am taking it back!

By that time, Rob came over.  He set my traps, filled the gaps with foam, and put poison under the bathroom sink for extra measure.  Magnum, Shane, Joe and I decided to spend the day outside.  I set up the tee ball in the back,and I got the kiddy pool out.  Rob and Christy came over while the boys were playing in the pool.  As we sat in lawn chairs and laughed about the night before, we saw Magnum pounce on something.

It was a shrew!  For those that don't know the difference between mice and shrews, shrews are an uglier, even more evil version of a mouse.


He caught it!  Disgusting and nasty, but I have to say I was so proud.  Christy and Rob burst out laughing, I screamed... just a little that time.  Magnum proceeded to catch it, in his mouth, let it go... then when it tried to run off, he caught it again.  Magnum thought it was a toy!  This game of dog and mouse went on for at least 10 minutes.  We were laughing so hard, even the boys came over to see what this crazy dog was doing.  Then, suddenly, the shrew just stopped moving.  He probably died of a massive heart attack, because this giant dog wouldn't leave him alone.  Then Magnum laid down with his snout next to the shrew, trying to nudge it back to life.  Finally, when he realized it wasn't going to "play" with him anymore, he lifted his head and looked at us with his big, droopy, sad eyes.


That is when we all started laughing.  The thought of this huge 100 lb labrador feeling so sad because he accidentally killed his new pet, was just hysterical!

Finally, late that afternoon, Rob checked the traps inside the house.  There it was, the lone mouse who attacked us so viciously (in my mind) the night before.  I was a little sad as Rob walked back to his house with the trap, I almost felt guilty.  It really was just a tiny little mouse.  But I was so relieved to have my house back!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Magnum the Protector


It was bound to happen.  Matt and I were like oil and water, and the longer we were together the worse it was becoming.  The fighting was constant, and had become worse after I left my job at the resort.  In August of 2001, we separated.

The separation was my idea, and I will not deny that.  I had many reasons, including the total disrespect that Matt had for me.  He just wasn't a nice guy if he wasn't getting his way, or if things were not going the way he had planned.

It was a late night, about a month after Matt moved out, when I heard someone pull into the drive way.  I was sitting on the couch with Magnum next to me.  Magnum immediately went to the door and barked once.  Then there was a knock on the door.  I unlocked the deadbolt and opened the door slightly, at 5'2" I was too short to see out of the peephole.  It was Matt.  We were really trying to get along at this point in the separation, so I had no problem allowing him into the house.

Once I did, and he started talking, I realized I made a huge mistake.  He was drunk.  And under the influence of Bacardi, his verbal abuse had occasionally become physical.

"I need to see the boys," he said.

"Matt, it is almost 1am... no, you can come over tomorrow to see them."

"You know this is all your fault.  You are keeping me away from them on purpose!"  His voice had gotten loud, and I knew he was going to get out of hand.  I didn't want to risk the boys waking up to the sound of us fighting again.

"No I am not, and you need to leave.  You can see them tomorrow."  I put my hand on his arm to try to push him toward the door.

I don't really remember how the next part played out.  I just remember that he was yelling at me as I was trying to get him out of the front door.  I never saw it coming.  With a closed fist he hit me across the right side of my face.  Magnum barked as I looked up at him in surprise.  All of the pushing and shoving and grabbing that had happened before, he never hit my face.  And as I looked up at him, I never saw his raise his other fist.

The pain was so intense, and somehow I was on the floor.  Out of nowhere, Magnum was suddenly standing over me.  The growls that were coming out of him were nothing I had ever heard before.  Matt reached down toward me, possibly to help me off of the floor.... but as his hand went down toward my crumpled body, Magnum latched on to his forearm with his teeth.  He kept shaking his head with Matt's arm in his mouth, an action I had only seen on police dog documentaries.  He tore through the fabric of Matt's shirt, and I really don't know how bad the bite tore his skin.  Matt finally broke free from Magnum's grip and ran out of the house.

I just laid there, crying.  Magnum laid down next to me and licked the tears coming from my eyes.  I couldn't believe what just happened.  I heard Matt's truck leave my driveway, and I know I should have called the police, but I just couldn't move.  I don't know how long I was on the floor... but Magnum never left my side.

Magnum was the kindest, gentlest dog I had ever known.  Prior to that night, I always questioned what would happen if we really needed him to protect us.  I had visions of him running up to an intruder, wagging his tail and expecting a treat.  After that night, though, I knew he would protect me and the boys with his own life.  I felt comfort in that.  And there was never any more incidents between Matt and myself after that night.  Suddenly the "dumb ass dog" (as Matt used to call him) had the upper hand.

That night gave me strength as well.  I no longer felt alone.  There were many days before that night that I wondered if I was making the right decision.... wondered if I was ready for the struggle as a single mom.  Magnum gave me strength that night.  And I knew that he wouldn't let anything happen to me.  Magnum was my dog.  My protector.

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