Monday, January 17, 2005

For weeks, sticky mousetraps have been empty behind our rat-infested oven. With the appliance guy coming over with a new oven I needed to move them out of the way. Holding and inspecting the trap (which had dust bunnies and dog hair clinging to it), I realized it required bait. I stuck a little wedge of parmesan in the middle and placed it on the floor in Lobo’s dogfood closet. The appliance guy arrived within 20 minutes. I cleaned up the floor beneath the old oven and let the guy bring in the new one. I went to wash my hands and saw the rat peeking out at me from around the bathroom door. I called the appliance guy over to see him. We both stared at him and wondered why he was standing his ground.

Appliance guy recommended putting on gloves and I proposed trapping him with a wastepaper basket. Appliance guy went back to his work and I entered the bathroom prepared for war. It was then that I saw that the trap was stuck to the bottom of the rat. Despite this, it was able to scurry past me and run to my bedroom. I finally got the trash bucket on top of it there. Sliding a manila folder underneath I was able to flip it into the bucket.

I took the bucket to the backyard where Lobo (Matt’s dog) was. It is embarrassing to admit, but I showed Lobo the rat in the bucket. Why did I do this? Hard to say. Lobo is like the child in the house, and in some way I felt like I was educating him, letting him see what a rat looked like. Another reason is that I have watched him chase phantoms around the house for weeks. He has been aware that SOMETHING was in the house but was perpetually too slow to see or seize it. I wanted to say “here is your culprit, boy, we have him.”

Naturally, Lobo trotted with me over to the marble-topped game-cleaning table that sits in the middle of the backyard. This was left over from the previous owners, and my plan was to bash the rat with a shovel on that marble slab. I lifted the bucket and the rat immediately flipped off into the grass. Lobo stuck his face in and the rat began making the trademark “eeee eeee” sounds. I had to fight Lobo off of the rat, shouting “no!, get off Lobo, goddamnit!” Lobo, resisting every instinct god ever gave him sat and watched me bash the rat with the shovel.

I breathlessly told appliance guy what had happened. I realized that I had needlessly exposed Lobo to rabies. He doesn’t appear to be bitten. Matt will have to decide what to do. The moral of the story is that in the heat of battle one can make pretty stupid decisions. I was supposed to make sure that Lobo was in the house before bashing the rat. For some primal reason, I wanted Lobo to see that I had a rat and was bashing it.

It’s the fog of war. You focus on the killing, not realizing that you are also being quite reckless.

Tomcat adhesive rodent traps are extremely effective if you put parmesan cheese in them. The rat’s legs were completely submerged in the rubbery goo. I put another trap down in the same place and will gladly repeat the experience without Lobo there. To give you an idea of why a rat in the house is bad, imagine turning on the oven to cook a pizza and have the house fill with the odor of a subway station.