Saturday, March 31, 2007

Of mice and wolves

Today was a day of large critters, little critters, and the concepts of care and rescue.

This morning I got up around 9 and started loading the dishwasher. I had been eyeballing the wads of dog hair that have grown under the cabinets and was thinking of getting the vacuum cleaner out and doing a thorough under-cupboard cleaning.

Turning around to put water into the dog dish, a little grey mouse came walking out from between the kennels.

I held perfectly still and he sniffed around looking for crumbs. He found a couple in the cracks of the floorboard and then realized I was there. I called Doug, I wanted him to see it. More, I wanted him to catch it.

The mouse was no bigger than a quarter. He was tiny as can be, and scurried under the cabinets to the safety of giant clumps of dog hair and those evil milk-bottle plastic lids that Geoff keeps losing. Now I know where they end up.

We got on our bellies and tried to find it again, he was nowhere to be seen. Doug went back upstairs and after about 20 minutes Mr. Mousie emerged again. I covered him with a bowl, and we set up the terrarium for it.

Doug and I were talking about taking him out to the woods, as we were giving him guinea pig food and Timothy Hay for comfort.

He ate happily, and was perfectly cozy. And I knew a big deep part of me wasn't going to be able to release him. I would have to leave that to Doug.

Timing wise, it was a good choice. Geoff and I had a date with cub scouts to go to Wolf Hollow for some wolf peeping. Doug could take the little guy out and set him free. Great.

Wolf Hollow was nice, albeit way too preachy on the topics of hunting and our federal government. I grew a little weary of how much time our host guide was spending bashing the government. Just tell the kids about the pack, socialization, and all that jazz. Quit bashin' the man. Jeesh. It was interesting to learn about the wolves who came to be there and the pack as it is growing. The boys were fascinated and Geoff really began to make connections as to why Cub Scouts is modeled after a wolf pack, with "Akela" the alpha who may be in charge but also is responsible for the wellbeing and growth of the young in the pack. And they young are there to learn from the alpha and help the entire pack to grow and survive.

Overall, it was a decent trip and a beautiful day to be outside looking at wolves and howling.

We got home around 3 and there was the mouse still his little terrarium. Doug and I just looked at each other and said nothing. I gave him a cap full of water, not having a good container to hang in the terrarium. I began thinking of what kind of cage we were going to get for him. Geoff named him Cheesey.

After dinner, Cheesey wasn't moving too much. I thought maybe he's just a really REALLY deep sleeper. I didn't want to think that yeah, he'd expired.

At about 9pm Doug checked on him too, and I heard him utter "oh no."

"You think he's dead too?" I called from my Tetris marathon on the PS2.

"What, do you think he's dead?"

"Um, yeah. At about 7 when I checked on him he was ..." I went in and stood next to Doug to look, "exactly like he is now."

So it looks like our foray into mouse ownership is over. Poor Cheesey.

Part of me is really sad and disappointed, and another part is kind of relieved. I didn't really WANT a mouse as a pet. But sometimes my soft spot is softer than I think, and I know that Geoff was thrilled by the concept of rescuing someone who had lost his family.

Geoff, like most 10 year olds, has that soft spot fully in place. And by our showing care and concern for lost things or those who need help keeps his soft spot. Hopefully he will grow into an adult who has a caring heart. Akela helps the pack, the cub helps the pack to grow... we nurture one another and nurture things that are in need.

The cub scout gives good will.

I like to think that we gave him a good couple of hours of comfort and food. And seeing as this is a 300-ish year old house, I bet it won't be the first mouse we come across here.

rodent 3

God speed ye, Cheesey Mouse.
God speed.

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