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Don't try to outwork the better mousetrap

The other morning while standing at the mirror shaving, I noticed something move behind me.

A mouse had scurried in, stopped, and was watching me. Though not alarmed, I was surprised. With the type of house we have, underground and all concrete, it is unusual to have a mouse get in. My wife, on the other hand, would be both alarmed and surprised. Fortunately, she was still sleeping at this time.

He sat there watching me with his beady, little eyes while I planned for his extermination. My first instinct was to slam the bathroom door shut and stomp on him. Though squashing a mouse in my bare feet leaves a lot to be desired, worse things could happen.

When I reached for the door, the mouse was off. He spun out as he rounded the corner and headed down the hallway. Several options lay ahead. He could turn into the office, the laundry room, the guest bedroom, or continue to the end of the hall leading into the master bedroom, where my wife lay sleeping. I was somewhat relieved when he dashed into the office. I would rather have had my showdown with the mouse in the spare bedroom, or better yet, in the laundry room, but I did not want the hunt to start in the master bedroom. To be caught crawling around the room with a weapon yet to be determine, by a mostly asleep wife, could cause a scene.

I blocked the crack at the bottom of the office door while I planned my next move. The obvious solution was out of the question. Most invasive wildlife problems can be handled with a shotgun. I have recently replaced the floor and also have several dollars worth of computers about. Even a small caliber rifle, though accurate, can cause severe problems when fired inside a concrete house.

I was suddenly struck with the thought, "Where is the dog?" It is good to have a dog or two around. We have the inside dog and the outside dog. Both are fairly large dogs, and they really enjoy a good mouse hunt. I do not mind if they hunt mice outside, where they can dismantle the wood pile or move 50-pound feed sacks, but did not want one of them in my office turning over electronics and desks.

I carefully searched the house for what I was hoping was a sleeping watch dog. If she was behind the closed door of the office, I did not to wake her in time to see a mouse run behind my hard drive. I found her in her bed, making the job of a watch dog look easy. She was watching with eyes closed and tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. I was glad she was not watching in the office.

The problem was now confined to one animal in one room against one person. I was ready to go in for the kill. My weapon of choice was a rubber spatula grabbed quickly from the kitchen on one of my hurried searches looking for but trying not to awaken the dog.

I swung open the door and leaped into the room, feeling much like an under-dressed Zorro. The mouse, who apparently was contemplating the meaning of life in the middle of the room, made a dash for the desk when I so rudely interrupted his train of thought. I lunged toward him hitting the floor with a loud smack. The mouse was unfazed, but the dog woke with a start. One "woof" and she was on her way to help me, with whatever I might be doing.

I was able to keep her out by holding one foot against the door while I parried and thrust under the desk with my trusty spatula. The hunting dog, knowing I must be hunting something good, began scratching at the door and whining.

Awakened by the commotion, my wife peaked through the crack of the door of the office. When she saw me immodestly stretched across the floor, balancing on one knee while holding the door shut with my foot and poking under the desk with a rubber spatula, she thought I had lost my mind. From her derisive comments and the persistence of the dog wanting to help, I decided to change my hunting tactics. They are not as much fun, but those sticky traps work wonders on mice.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.