lucy hiding as pantry is cleanedThis 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.

fox terrier with mask

I tried to get Lucy on board for the clean-up, but she was having none of it. Oscar just retreated upstairs to lie on the bed and listen to iTunes.

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.

gift tea from Asia

Until, apparently, we now have all the tea in China.

loads of chicken stock

We also seem to be hoarding chicken stock.

And in the very back of the pantry, I found my Michelle Obama reusable grocery bag.

michelle obama grocery bag

First Lady of Fabulous indeed!

mouse poo

But as the pantry was cleared, oh the horror, the horror...

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.

mouse holes

Steve McRodent, James Vermin and Charles Mouseson, did as well.

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.

mouse nibbled rice

Our mice have devoured a whole 2 lb. bag with no observable bad effects.

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.

our pantry

Our newly rodent-free pantry.

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?

oscar the smooth fox terrier

Oscar's answer is: "Clearly, some of us have EVOLVED."