Two weeks ago, I sat down at my computer with my cup of coffee, and proceeded to start my day the way everyone should. I drink my cup of coffee, download podcasts, check Ravelry, and then go get dressed and start my day. It's a very civilized way to begin your day, and I highly recommend it. That goes doubly for knitters.
It's not uncommon for the dogs to come and go through the dog door as they please; that's why we installed it. It's also not unusual for them to take a toy (or five) out to the patio to play on a nice day. That's just how our house works- and they also usually bring their toys in and put them away. (They put them under the table instead of the shelf, but I'm not about to complain.)
We have one TERRIBLE dog toy, which I'm 99% sure Andrew picked out. It's an elephant, and it's supposed to sound like an elephant trumpeting, but it really sounds like someone screaming like they're being put through a wood chipper, feet first. It's loud, startling, and naturally, the dogs love it. (I'm not saying that the dogs deserve to be limited to squeaky toys, but I'm also not keen on jumping out of my skin for their entertainment. Selfish, I know.) The elephant is small and grey, and is an important part of this story.
As I was enjoying my Civilized Morning Routine, Elphie went out the dog door with the elephant toy, and shortly after, came back in with something in her mouth. At first glance, it looked like the elephant toy. Then she turned towards me, and there was an eight inch tail.
Tail? My brain processed slowly. She proudly dropped it next to me. In my kitchen, at my feet.
I screamed. I don't think I've ever screamed like this in my whole life, mostly because I've never been so startled.
I didn't stop screaming. I pointed at the dog gate (which they got behind) and continued to shriek at a pitch and volume that threatened to shatter every window in the neighborhood.
I took a deep breath, stopped screaming, and thought about packing up the dogs and going elsewhere with them until Andrew became available for body disposal. This was a BIG rat.
It might still be alive, said a voice in my head. You need to get it out. Now. Before it wakes up.
The thought of an R.O.U.S. loose in my home was enough to help me screw up the courage to put on my grown-up pants and do it myself, right away. I refused to spend one extra second with this thing, so I ran through the kitchen and garage, opening every door (and the lid to the trash can) in order to create a speed course (which is the opposite of an obstacle course, and I might have invented it).
I grabbed my biggest dustpan and it's accompanying broom, and I was ready. I took a deep breath, ran around my table to get to my maximum speed, swooped down to grab the (stiff) body, then proceeded to scream as I ran through the last leg of the kitchen, the garage, the side yard, dumped the body in the trash can, and slammed two doors behind me.
I'll admit that this wasn't my proudest moment as an adult. I felt stupid for being so grossed out, and more stupid for the uncontrollable shrieking. I let the dogs out from behind the gate, and as I did, I realized that my feeling stupid wasn't the worst thing.
Elphie went and laid in her dog bed, ears down, tail down, shame in her eyes, and laid down with her back to the room. She put herself in time out. Niki just did his thing, completely unmoved by the events that had just transpired before his doggie eyes.
Cat owners will tell you that you should never behave like I did when your cat brings you a trophy. You are supposed to say "Thank you", praise the cat for their supreme hunting prowess, then deal with the body calmly. You do *not* shriek like a harpy, set up a speed course, and unceremoniously dispose of the
I had to act quickly. I called Andrew up to appraise him of the situation, and told him what an EXCELLENT hunter our Elphie is, in the most cheerful and proud voice. I also told him how THOUGHTFUL it was of her to bring me such a WONDERFUL trophy, and how *I* behaved abominably.
As I told Andrew the story, he laughed himself silly. Elphie was listening, too, and both ears and the tail came up, and eventually I got a smile out of my girl. (There's an idiom I learned as a teenager for this; it's talking to the doorframe so that the door will hear you.)
Even if it *is* a dead rat.