Of Mice and Mutts


It should come as no surprise to anyone that I have a mouse living in my garden. He (I’m assuming the gender here) lives under the giant, flat plastic plate-ring thingy that’s underneath my bird feeder. (The plate thingy is under the feeder to catch dropped seed so that the seed won’t sprout.) Anyway, at night the mouse comes out to do mouse chores, and this drives the dog nuts. He can see and smell that mouse, but he can’t get inside the 4′ high fence to get the mouse. If I let Judah in to the garden to hunt, he’d trample my tomato plants, and the tomato plants are still bearing fruit at an approximate rate of 1,000,000,000,000 tomatoes per day, so I can’t let the dog go mouse hunting. What the dog does do, however, is run back and forth along the fence, barking like mad. The first time Carl and I observed this, Carl said, “Good night, what is with that dog! He’s out there going postal!” And I said, “Of course he’s going postal – he’s male.” (rim shot) So Judah has to wait until the end of the growing season to go after the mouse, at which time I’ll just open the gate right up and let the dog have free run.

Mice are not the only things that make Judah go crazy. He hates hot air balloons. People will bring their balloons to the Atkins soccer fields and launch them, and the soccer fields are two blocks straight west of my house, so we get to watch the balloons rise over the houses when they first take off. And when the balloons take off, so does the dog. The hair stands up on his back, and he’s out there growling and barking and carrying on, running back and forth. I wonder what the people in the balloon think, if they can see and/or hear him.

People out walking their dogs is another thing that makes Judah bonkers. This really isn’t surprising: dogs tend to bark at other dogs. But it’s kind of funny watching people walk their dogs past our place, because the people who don’t know us tend to freak out a little when they see Judah’s head and paws up over the fence. The people who do know us just smile and wave when I come out to tell Judah to be quiet. Most folks are pretty forgiving of our dog.

To keep Judah from barking at night, we put a “barking” collar on him. This collar has a little box on it, and the box has a sprayer loaded with citronella oil in it. The box also has a voice recognition switch, so that when Judah barks, the switch kicks in and the box sprays Judah with citronella oil right up his big fat schnorg. Usually he’ll only bark once, then he’ll spend the next 10 minutes or so sneezing out the oil, then he’s done for the night. And he never fights me when it’s time to put on the collar, because he knows that treats always follow the collar. Judah’s a pushover for a couple of dog biscuits.

So now it’s evening: the collar’s on the dog, the shed door is closed, the garage is shut up tight, and the kids are in bed. Time to blog a little, have a snack, and then turn in and dream sweet dreams. I’ll probably dream about chocolate.

Judah’s dreaming about trouncing that mouse.


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