Alan, our shepherd, has learned to tolerate most anyone and anything in his house. It’s been a required and necessary part of life for a family dog on a guest ranch and animal farm. Lambs, chicks, cats, lots of other dogs, you name it… at some point or another, it has been asked of him to tolerate them, in his home, often right under his nose. And because we have asked, and because he cares about his family, he has accepted them all.
On the other end of this story is the mouse. Mice get the brunt end of things on this ranch. Between the coyotes out on pasture and the cats around the cabins, mice have little chance of freedom, let alone a long and happy life. Yet, no matter how hard the coyotes and the cats hunt, the mice remain a stronghold of the mountain. A necessary part of the food chain.
And each year, when the rains begin, they decide it is time once again to move out of their soggy home in the field, and into the warmth and comfort of a cabin. That, of course, rarely goes over too well with visitors to the mountain. But we all know if you don’t like the heat, get out of the oven. Mice do live here. The only way to completely keep them away, I suppose, would be to stay away. People learn; these are just mice, and they need not be elephants and run in fear from the little critters. Perhaps one day the same people will learn to love and feed the mice as they do the fellow rodent, the ground squirrel?
In the meanwhile, we rely on our cats to help keep them under control. And they do. A very good job. So good that more often than not, they search and scour about the guest cabins to find a live one… only to bring it back home as a gift. Gee, thanks.
Well, the other evening we were sitting around having dinner as one of the cats brings a mouse in through the cat door. Alive. We rolled our eyes as the cat played with her catch, so proud and enjoying. It was just a little fellow, just a baby, I noticed, and the mother in me couldn’t help but be filled with sympathy.
As we watched the cat play, we saw the little mouse take refuge under the leg of Alan, who lied sleeping near by, unaware. Now, Alan, like many a dog that has lived with cats in his life, has learned to eat mice too. Small but tasty fare for this big dog. So when he awoke to find the little fellow right before him, staring helplessly into the big dogs eyes, Alan looked up at me as if to say, “What do you want me to do now?”
I gave him that look that told him I’d sure appreciate it if he’d put up with this. And so he did. That little mouse found his big protector in Alan, who vigilantly watched over the tiny creature, who sat in the shadow of the big dog, catching his breath, safe for now from the antics of the kitty.
I thanked Alan, picked up the mouse, and put him back outside. Only to see the other cat bringing home another mouse…