This will be one of the most shocking and disgusting posts I’ve ever written. Well, there was that post I wrote about Oscar playing with deer body parts. And the one about the mouse that fell in the vat of fermenting wine. (He survived.) But as you can guess from the intro, this post has to do with terriers and rodents. If you are a student of terrierology, you know that terrier breeds were developed (almost exclusively in the British Isles) as effective vermin hunters. In fact, terriers soon became vermin specialists: Fox Terriers for foxes, Kerry Blues for badgers and otters, Border Terriers for rabbits and so on. But the common denominator is that all terriers have been given a common mission: Death to all rodents! Clearly, our terriers did not get that memo. I realized this when I opened the pantry and was confronted by four mice munching away on a variety of staples.
Now you may ask how the situation was allowed to escalate to Mouse-a-Palooza without me getting a hint of it for what must have been weeks. Well, first of all, I’ve been trying to use as much fresh and seasonal produce as possible, so I actually haven’t even cracked the door to the pantry for several weeks now. But then again, the early warning system you would expect from a pair of terriers was not in evidence. Although the pantry is a mere three feet from Oscar’s bed, there’s been no whining or scratching at the pantry door or any other indication that something is amiss rodentially speaking. Their indifference to this state of affairs continued as I donned a face mask, mixed up a bleach and water solution and pulled everything out of the pantry.
The clean-up was an eye-opener in more ways than one. For instance, every time Andy takes a business trip to Asia, he comes back loaded down with gift boxes of tea from Asian colleagues and vendors.
And in the very back of the pantry, I found my Michelle Obama reusable grocery bag.
Remember that classic movie, The Great Escape, the true story of Allied Prisoners of War tunneling out of a Nazi prison camp? With our recent and prolonged torrential rains, seems their rodent counterparts have been tunneling IN to our house. In The Great Escape, the prisoners made two back-ups to their main tunnel and named them Tom, Dick and Harry.
There is really no excuse for letting things get to this stage — certainly not in a houseful of terriers — but here’s my excuse. One of Andy’s colleagues from India brought us back a treasure trove of spices from Mumbai. So, over the aroma of garam masala, cumin and tumeric, neither we nor the terriers could pick up that first scent of rodent that should have alerted us to the situation. The odd thing is that our mice seem to have very eclectic tastes. The Indian spices were the first thing they went for — along with dried cranberries, mulling spices, dog chewies and two necklaces made from Grenadine spices that I’d hung over one of the shelves. Also remember when, all of a sudden, throwing rice was banned at weddings because we were told the birds would eat the grains, the liquid in their stomachs would swell them and they would explode and die? Not true, apparently.
But to make a long story (with pictures) short, after several hours work, I have the cleanest pantry in San Francisco. And the Great Escape tunnels have been spackled over.
Later that evening, I was still castigating my terriers for letting a rodent situation get out of control. After all, hundreds, maybe thousands of years of breeding went into making terriers into perfect vermin killing machines. (Pliny the Elder was the first to write about terriers, when the invading Romans were surprised to find dogs in Ancient Britain “going to ground”.) Yes, what do my terriers say to falling down on two thousand years of breeding?
Is it possible that the poor dogs were somehow bribed?
Poor dogs, indeed! I’m going to have to turn out their pockets since they would definitely be amenable to rodent bribery.
I feel your pain. We have both a terrier AND a Dachshund and we currently have an infestation of moles in the backyard. With not just one, but two earth dogs? Oh the shame and ignominy!
I keep pantry stuff that has been opened or in a soft (chewable) container in the refrigerator. Otherwise, everything else is in a sealed hard container in the pantry.
Don’t be too hard on the pups. They have to have some flaw.
Maybelline, check and check. Now I’ve learned.
Rodents can be very sneaky. Once upon a time, in a rented house in the burbs of NKY, there lived a hamster in a cage in the living room. Next to his cage, sitting atop a bookcase filled with encyclopedias, rested a small cup of sunflower seeds for treats.
No terriers of any kind to assist. Wilbur the hamster began giving off a strong odor. Mysteriously. Cage frequently cleaned, yada yada. While cleaning the living room a sofa cushion was raised. There in the corner was a little pile of sunflower seeds. Mousetrap set. Little gray field mouse culprit caught. It had been raiding the cup and stashing the seeds. Wilbur went back to his own less smelly self.
I had Mousies in my storage room one winter – a room that doubled as a pantry, with all my “dry goods” neatly arranged on the metal shelves – and lord have mercy what a job they did over there. They pooped on EVERYTHING, ate their way through EVERYTHING, and made such a mess, it was really discouraging. When I finally moved out, the biggest project we had was wheeling the shelving unit outside and spraying and cleaning every single piece of metal from the encrustation of Mouse poop before I took it into my new place.
But, like yourself, I had the world’s cleanest pantry shelves when I relocated. Definitely worth a morning of toil.
But I don’t know if I’m buying the spice-addled Terrier theory – wouldn’t there have been NOISE, too? The scritching and scratching of little Mousie teeth on whatever they were eating? Sounds like a big con job to me…
When you find me another George Bush, Lucy and me will meet you in the pantry see, heres how it goes down. Come alone, have Bush in plain paper bag and we make the exchange, one bagged dirty rat for each mouse we are holding. If you do not comply, well have you seen the movie Willard.
John, above, is referring to Oscar’s long-lost George Bush squeaky toy which washed away in our recent floods. Read about that adventure here: https://leftcoastcowboys.com/2011/03/08/the-end-of-george-w-bush/
Looks like John and Oscar are in cahoots agin ye, lady.
You have very discerning mice. I bet they were delighted to have access to your fabulous pantry!!! You did a fine job re-organizing it. Now for those terriers….
meaning “as for those terriers”
I recently had an experience like yours. I make it a habit to take my ancient Rat Terrier to our country house with me when I go. He enjoys walking around the farm, and maybe dogs enjoy a getaway like anyone else, but we have a mouse problem there. The last time (and I mean the LAST time) I took him we were sitting on the couch watching a movie when I realized I could hear a mouse in the laundry room, one in the bathroom, and one under the couch we were sitting on! I turned to Pip and said “Please get at least one of these damned mice.” “No.” he said succinctly before taking another bite of popcorn. “Pip, I said get the mouse!” “No. You get the mouse, I’m watching my show.” Sigh.
The next time I went to the country house I took my cat Hodge with me and had much better results. Pip is fired!