Animals in my Life, Domestic and Wild

It’s 8:30 p.m. The dogs are in their usual spot, glued to the twilight through the sliding glass door.  They are lying in wait for a rat.  The Jack Russell started this. The lab was happy to snooze in the chair before Daisy came along.

Now they stand guard for their yard. When they see a rat run by to get to the fountain or bird feeder droppings, the dogs run past me, down the hall, out the doggie door, out to the side yard, around to the back yard, and over to the fountain.  The rat almost always gets away. I am relieved. The day I was down on my hands and knees pulling weeds, I was concentrating so hard on the green stuff that I almost grabbed the tail of a dead one Daisy had caught, killed, and then left for me to find.

Pepper is fast. Daisy is faster.  The rats have been put on notice. One of them didn’t make it back to the rat hotel, which is under the wooden floor of the plastic shed my son and I spent hours putting together five summers ago (I needed a place for garage overflow, bicycles, and patio cushions).

Other wild animals are smarter than the rats and live in the FRONT yard. I have a sixty-foot long hedge, which is ten feet wide.  In that hedge, there have been three different residents:  a skunk, a black cat, and a jack rabbit. I’ve seen them all at one time or another, but never at the same time.

The jack rabbit goes running up the green belt whenever I walk one of the dogs. The skunk hides in the geranium bed. The cat comes and goes. I wish it would go into the back yard and get the rats. It probably goes behind the shed where the dogs can’t reach.

I fill the fountain many times a month. What else is drinking out of it?  Lots of birds, for sure. A few rats. Squirrels.  What else?  I don’t mind helping out the wildlife, especially in the hot summer. We can get temps over 100 degrees for a week.

I have a rat guy, but he only guarantees no rats under (or in) the house. I’ve heard them under there. When I first moved in, there was freeway going on from the green belt to under my master bedroom, and then back again. I bought some foam spray and filled up the too-large hole for the pipe to the AC unit. That worked for a while, but eventually I had to hire the professional to fill up all the holes the rats chewed in the stucco to get under my house.

I can’t set a rat trap to save my life (or my fingers).  I tried the glue traps, but they are just inhumane. I caught a few babies that way, but a fat adult rat pulled itself off of the trap and left behind half of its fur.  Plus I caught a couple of little birds rustling under the bushes. The glue traps don’t discriminate. Never again.

I’ll have to shut the doggie door before bed. Otherwise my dogs play will play the rat game all night.

There they go again, right on cue. It’s good to see them bonding over something.  It might as well be the rats.

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