The Rat Race

There are a few words that come to mind when I think about this first full week of 2014.

Unfortunately, if I say them out loud I have just broken my resolution to cuss less. Besides, this post would be too long if I share with you the events of today. But it was a doozy for this mama. It was the kind of day that makes you want to go picket outside Babies 'r Us and protest the blatant false advertising and propaganda they produce concerning the continual bliss of parenting. Despite it all, I adore being a mom. I love my kids more than my own life, but today they significantly shortened my life. But that's a post for another day….

It all began last Thursday when I began noticing what can only be described as droppings here and there downstairs in my house. I began to get a little nervous. As I looked around a little more closely, I moved from nervous to sick.

Mouse droppings. 

I immediately called our pest control company and within a few minutes our regular guy called me.

I was not happy to be told he couldn't make it over here until the following Monday. But okay, I am a big girl, and after all, I only saw them in one area and I can make sure the kids don't leave any food lying around. I can handle this, I told myself.

And I really did handle it pretty well. I thought we must be doing a pretty good job. 

And then…then Sunday night happened. I was getting out the girls' lunch boxes and went into total freak out mode. Mouse droppings EVERYWHERE. 

Do not get in the way of a woman cleaning out her pantry motivated by fear and disgust. If it wasn't nailed to the wall, I threw it out. Then I vacuumed, then I sanitized. Then I pulled out my couch from against the wall and went into freak out mode all over again. He'd been there, too! Then I slept with my eyes open and watched the clock for 10am Monday morning when the pest control guy said he'd arrive.

The next morning I opened my pantry door with great dread and trepidation. Sure enough, more evidence, but at least this time there was virtually nothing left to eat in the pantry so I didn't have to worry about our food being contaminated. My middle child refused to eat breakfast in these unsanitary conditions.

I couldn't really blame her.

The man arrived right on time and I anxiously ushered him in. 

"Oh, boy. Those are too big to be mouse droppings. You've got yourself a rat. Be careful. I once had a rat and it ate through my dishwasher hoses and we had to replace the whole thing."

He investigated in the family room. It is NEVER a good thing to hear a pest control professional gasp. 

Apparently the rat had made its playground behind the entertainment center. And by the looks of it he'd been there long enough to get comfortable. 

Oh. My. Heavens. 

We were the people you see on reality shows where friends have to do interventions because of the squalor of the living conditions. I was the rat lady. 

All I could imagine was rabid, humongous furry creatures with those awful, long, scaly tails and red beady eyes and sharp teeth. If I'd had a for sale sign I may have been tempted to put it in the front yard. 

A little while later it was just me, my youngest daughter, a very curious dog, and the most gigantic mouse traps I've ever seen lying in wait for an unlucky encounter. I'm not kidding. These traps were so big the pest guy said they would break your hand. I sufficiently frightened the kids enough that they were afraid to be in the same room with the traps. The dog was on lockdown so as to not set off a trap and lose a paw. 

Speaking of this dog, I'd like to touch on that subject for a minute. 

What the heck do I have a "hunting dog" for if she was letting a full-fledged RAT run around in my house at night? For the love of all things! I have suspected for a while that Lily is not the brightest bulb, but this confirmed it. She hasn't barked, hasn't sniffed, hasn't raised an eyebrow once that anything unusual was going on.

The night passed slowly with dreams of pink little rat feet and long tails scurrying all over my kitchen.

The next morning, I summoned my courage and peeked into the pantry. There they were. Two traps sitting there untouched, as nice as you please. But no new droppings, I noted. Hmm.

I went into the family room and carefully strained to see around the oversized chair where the third trap had been placed.

What I saw is burned into my mind's eye forever. Lesser women would've had a total meltdown. You can ask my 5-year-old. I would hardly even qualify the sound I made as a scream, and really what I was doing could've easily been called speed walking back to the kitchen. 

That was one really dead rat.

That was one really HUMONGOUS dead rat.

For the love of mike! It was practically the size of a guinea pig! I looked over at the "hunting dog" we paid hundreds of dollars for. She just cocked her head to one side and returned my gaze, as if offended that I would even question her on this. She is technically a bird dog, so maybe she doesn't even bother with rodents on steroids. I don't know. But whatever her excuse, she is SO fired.

The rat was disposed of and the area bleached thoroughly. I can't quite get that image out of my head. I still have spontaneous moments of shuddering when I think of what can only be described as a gruesome crime scene.

I know, I know, it's only a rat and now it's gone. It was just looking for a warm place to stay. It is a first world problem to be so freaked out by a rat in the house, I suppose. 

But good golly, what an unpleasant way to have it confirmed that your dog is totally incompetent.

*this is actually our first hunting dog, Hank, God rest his soul. He wasn't the brightest, either, but he was so far off the scales on hyperactivity I bet he would've caught that rat. I do have a picture of the dead rat, but because I like you, my faithful readers, I will not subject you to that kind of trauma.


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