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The Great Gray Hunter

by Melinda Nowikowski, Dayton, OH, USA


We moved Tink into our new house last summer, around the end of June. My husband and I had always suspected that, since she's so determined and ruthless about bugs, she'd probably eat a mouse before we could get it away from her. She once ate a lightning bug, refusing to give it up even when it was making her foam at the mouth and we were convinced she'd eaten a spider or wasp.

About a week after we moved in, we were setting up the stereo and TV in the basement when Tony heard something scratching on the floor. He moved some cables and, lo and behold, there was a tiny field mouse cowering at the baseboard. Tink? She was lying in the middle of the floor, fascinated with the stereo assembly, she didn't seem to hear anything.

"I think we have a mouse -- hey, Tink!" Tony called. Tink's ears followed his voice. That was about it -- she didn't seem to hear the mouse, though even I could hear it scrabbling around from across the room. The mouse ran out around the CD stand, in the middle of the floor, then behind it again. Tink's eyes tracked, but that was about it. I've seen her get more excited about a moth on the wall too high to reach.

Not satisfied that Tink was not a "born mouser," Tony came out from behind the equipment and picked her up. The mouse went up the wall, across three feet of white-painted paneling to hang, cowering, under the mantelpiece. Tink was just about yawning.

Tony brandished her at the poor mouse like a bazooka. At this point, Tink realized there was a "toy" hanging under the mantelpiece and reached out to give it a swat. The mouse hit the carpet, squealed once and was gone behind the equipment again. Tony put Tink down and she followed, but within thirty seconds the mouse made a break across the beige carpet to the other side of the room, where it hid behind a book case. Tink was still behind the stereo, convinced the mouse (or whatever she thought it was) was there.

I lifted her out while Tony tracked down the mouse, then we put her on the trail again. Intrepid, she managed to look behind or under every single piece of furniture in the family room except the bookcase behind which the mouse was hiding.

Stupid mouse, it took a run straight down a blank baseboard and leaped into a milk crate full of piano music. Tink did manage to follow it, then, and five minutes of poking with her paw ensued before the mouse made a run at her, skidding between all four paws and out the back. I think it scared her as much as it did the mouse.

There was a brief span where Tink actually interacted with the mouse. She spent thirty seconds with it backed into a corner, trying to pick it up by the neck and bring it to us so we could throw it for her, like we did all her other 'moosie' toys.

I finally called a stop to the proceedings by grabbing a large glass and setting it upside-down over the mouse. Tony picked the mouse up with a notebook held over the mouth of the glass and carried it out to the end of the back yard to let it go. There was no point putting the poor little rodent through any more -- even if Tink ever figured it out, she wouldn't have killed it with dispatch, and the thought of a tiny mouse being mauled to death over the course of an hour made me sick. If she'd grabbed it on her own, I wouldn't have taken it from her, but it didn't bode well for a 'clean kill' if we had to repeatedly pick her up and point her at the mouse.

Strangely enough, for the next two weeks she kept wandering around, poking at the baseboards and crying at us as if we'd taken away a toy. "You missed your big shot, kiddo!" we told her. So much for 'instinct' -- a stuffed cat would have given the mouse more of a hassle. We still call Tink our Great Gray Hunter once in a while.


Editor's note:

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