Annie killed a rat today. It might have been a really big mouse. And she
didn't really kill it, so much as caused its death. As much as I want to
say, "Yay, Annie! Good girl!" I'm mortified by how the rat died, and can't cheer
her on as much as I want to.
Kris and I have been starting work on on the house. Before
having the front yard landscaped, we replaced the sewer line, and figured
we'd best paint the house, too, lest the landscaping be trampled by the
painters. We're also having the whole house rewired, since we have exactly
two grounded outlets in the house. I made arrangements for quotes for house
painting and an electrician to come out, see what was up with the house, and
give me quotes.
The painter came first, at 9:30. We walked around the house, looking at the
various walls. When we approached the south wall, Annie and Bella were
madly hunting. Noses to the ground, they were dashing up and down the yard
along the fence, frantically following a scent. Bella would pause every
once in a while and howl, but kept sniffing. I thought little of the event.
Having walked around the house, the painter guy and I went into the
kitchen for a separate quote. The kitchen has been in the same state of
incomplete surface remodel for the last two years, and I was tired of it.
I'm sure Kris was even more tired of it than I was, having looked at
yet.another.unfinished.project of mine for more than two days (possibly the
cause of the household rule, "No more new projects until you finish the old
ones." Either that room, or the bathroom, or the bedroom, or the office or
the living room. One of those rooms.). The painter guy left and went to
his car to write up a quote.
After twenty minutes or so, the painter guy gave me a quote, brieftly
reviewed it, and left, just as the electrician was walking up. Excellent
timing on everyone's part, and I started the house tour again, this time
with the electrician. We went out back to discuss the electricity meter,
which unfortunately, was installed poorly and allowed water to run along the
exposed wires inside the meter. Lovely that.
As I turned to walk back into the house, Annie came running up to me all
bouncy and excited. She jumped a bit, took two steps away looking over her
shoulder back at me, then returned to bounce again when she realized I
wasn't following her. "What is it, Annie?" I asked, looking up to where
I walked over, and realized the dark grey object I thought was a stick on
the ground by Bella was indeed not. It was a rat. A very wet, soggy rat.
As I stood there amazed, it tried to stand and escape. Not thinking, I
cried to Bella, "Get it!" and she ran over to it, howling. Annie was
quicker, ran over over, picked up the rat and flipped it up. It turned in
the air and landed with a soft splat on the concrete. Still alive, it tried
again to get away.
Since the electrician was waiting, I went back into the house and finished
the tour of the house, what I wanted done, which rooms would get ceiling
lights, how many circuits, where would we add outlets. I asked for a lot of
changes, figuring I could scale back as needed.
When we were done, I went back out to the backyard where Annie was still
playing with the rat. It wasn't moving any longer, so I pinged Kris, let
him know what was up, and told him I'd be throwing away the body. We
chuckled about the whole thing, and I left to get a small bag. On my way
out the door, I recalled Priyanka's dead squirrel incident, where she poked
a "dead" squirrel, which wasn't quite dead enough, and it turned on her,
latching onto her finger. She required a series of rabies shots and a lot
of stitches. No thanks.
I walked back to the garage for gardening gloves, and walked back out to the
backyard. As I crouched down and looked at the rat, I realized it was still
breathing. It turned and looked at me. My next reaction was complete
horror. This small creature was still alive, and being tortured by my dogs.
Kris' dogs! Each breath was labored. I messaged Kris, exclaiming surprise
at the fact the rat was still alive. He reaction: "Whack it with a shovel!
One whack, dead!" I expressed my horror at the thought: the dichotomy of
the situation not lost on me: I was perfectly fine with throwing away the
dead body, but I wasn't willing to kill it.
Rats aren't particularly attractive creatures to me, Disney personification
not-withstanding. The tails are kinda gross, too. Ick. But the thought of
whacking the thing over the head with a shovel mortified me. I called
Doyle to see if he'd come over and help me out. He was willing, but a short
I found our shovel, and went to get the rat. Sure, the rat was going to
die, but I didn't have to let the dogs gum it to death. I tried for a good
three minutes to pick up that rat. It was limp and relatively unwilling to
scoop up onto the shovel. I eventually managed to get it half on the
shovel, and carried it folded over on the edge around to the front, dropping
it on the driveway next to the jasmine. The dogs weren't too happy with me,
as I took away their kill. I am, however, Alpha Dog, and I get the food,
While I sat there, waiting for Doyle out front, I watched the rat. It's
breathing was labored. A neighbor walked by, and stopped to talk to me.
Her immediate reaction when I told her my dog had killed a rat, was, "Yay!"
but when she realized it wasn't quite dead, also paused. We talked about
inconsequential things, and, as I looked up to talk to her, the rat died.
Scooping it up onto the shovel and into the bag was easy at that point.
The rat's death bothered me a surprising amount, it still bothers me, and
will probably continue to bother me, as I think about it. Yes, I recognize
the circle of life, the hunter and the hunted, the ridiculousness of the
personification, and the destruction the small creature could wring on my
garden and backyard. I know these things, yet watching an animal die was
The older I get, the more I am aware of my own mortality. Working on busy
work becomes more difficult. Having as much clutter as I have becomes
harder. Letting go of things becomes harder. The thought of any of my
family dying is crushing, yet I know it'll happen, and the older I get the
more imminent such and event becomes. I want to hold all of my friend and
family close and stop change from happening. Take this moment and keep it.
Yay, Annie caught a food stealing, potential rabies carrying rat. Oh, my,
god, she killed another being. I can't resolve this dichotomy.