Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elphie's Gift

This post is two weeks old, mostly because Stitches managed to take over the better part of two weeks. 

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 dead body extremely thoughtful gift. This lapse in etiquette may have caused Emily Post to turn in her grave.

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.)

Could you really deny a smile like this?
I really do believe that having dogs in my life has made me a better person, mostly because they've taught me about love. Love is, apparently (for those of you playing the home game), apologizing even when you're *not* wrong and graciously accepting a gift that has been given with love.

Even if it *is* a dead rat.


  1. Many years ago I ran crying and screaming with a dead mouse in my dustpan (we lived in the country). I totally understand the fright that you experienced. I wonder if there will be a repeat performance from Elphie. lol

  2. Hilarious, although snorting coffee out of my nose is not usually a part of my Civilized Morning Routine.

    I hit a mouse in our kitchen with a cookie sheet in my husband's general direction once. He didn't appreciate it like I thought he should though :)

  3. Ew! Seeing a dead rat on my floor would have caused me to act in a less-that-ladylike manner, I'm sure! I came home from Stitches to find a cat's "trophy" by my front door...fourtunately it was of the small, feathered variety.

  4. I will never complain the next time Maggie (my wee mini-dachshund puppy)brings me in a wriggling worm, like she did this very morning.
    Luckily, dear hubby was home each time this past fall, when our cat brought us 7 trophies (on different days) and proudly dropped them in the floor of our sunroom. It grossed me just watching Scooter dispose of them!!

  5. At least it was dead!! My cat used to bring me 'toys' or 'gifts' that were still moving when he dropped them at my feet. That was fun...

  6. I think you are very brave. Just the thought of it makes me jump up on my couch and do the 'squirmy, grossed out' dance.

  7. Oh a dead rat is much easier than a live one...we had a kitty door and a very active huntress. Let's just say I rose to the occasion. The bird flying around the living room took a small fishing net taped to a pole to return it to the wild...
    Sally aka fibercrafter

  8. Wonderful post, Jasmin. I think you behaved in a very civilized manner. I believe my heart might have stopped entirely. I don't do well with rodents but am fine with spiders and snakes. I removed a snake from our garage without too much trouble and didn't even yelp. I love the way Elphie smiles.

  9. Uggh! At least Elphie lesft it on the kitchen floor. My mom's do left a dead gopher gift in her bed. Triple yuck!!!!!

  10. I would have reacted the same exact way. I end up standing on the couch when a mouse shows up in my living room!

  11. I don't blame you one bit for reacting that way! A number of years ago something similar happened to me. My cat likes to place cat toys in my shoes. I went to pick up my shoes one night and saw a small grey mouse inside. I thought it was a toy until it jumped out and ran. I screamed and waved my arms up and down. My husband trapped it between a magazine and cup. At the time we lived in a third story apartment. We through the mouse, the cup, and the magazine over the balcony. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was very traumatic :)

  12. Who could resist a face like that.

  13. Ewwwwww. My own fear of rodents has led me to some pretty immature/brave actions. They've all become great stories for my family to tell over the years. Surely, yours will become a family tale for decades!

  14. Sweet Elphie! I'm glad you were brave!

  15. Great story-telling Jasmine- and I totally get your loss of sanity! I had a lab- years ago- that found a live rat (we lived on a ranch) and he refused to drop it from inside his mouth (yep- he had the whole guy squirming in there). But, to go on a walk with me he soon had to let it go- breathing and carrying around his prize did not work well!
    Loved meeting you and your family at Stitches this year!

  16. One of our cats and our dog work together to bring down birds in our yard. And then they bring them in the house. They never actually present them as gifts, though - I think because they end up too busy fighting over it between the two of them!

  17. One of our cats and our dog work together to bring down birds in our yard. And then they bring them in the house. They never actually present them as gifts, though - I think because they end up too busy fighting over it between the two of them!

  18. At least it still had it's head attached, and you didn't find it with your bare foot! (Hee!Hee!)

  19. Okay, I just laughed myself silly with your story. I totally emphathize with both you and Elphie. Having cats, I've had my fair share of "gifts" from my feline brood. It's a food gift; they are bringing you gift and you get first dibs. Sometimes, they bring it to you where you sleep, because well...Breakfast in bed is a wonderful thing, right?!? ;-)

    Its a little...disconcerting sometimes. Luckily, nowadays, my cats are older and all I get are catnip mice on my pillow.

    I'm okay with that.

  20. Oh boy!!! Reminds me of when my lab brought me a dead bird and dropped it at my feet. Luckily we were outside at the time. I took a plastic large baggie and disposed of it in the garbage. It wasn't until about 2 or 3 weeks later, when I TOTALLY freaked out...my sweet dog had a episode of what I called 'butt aliens', a.k.a. WORMS!!! He had to have gotten them from that dead bird. My vet got a kick out of me when I was describing what I saw.....Now that grossed me out !!!

  21. At least you're afraid of ROUS... itty bitty spiders (or larger) strike fear in my heart. LOL

  22. My first visit to your blog and you had me laughing out loud in short order. A "well done" is offered on the rat-disposal and recognition of Elphie's gift. (Lovely picture by the way!). My thanks and neatly blogged!

  23. I too laughed out loud !!
    This is my first visit to your site, and I'm sorry you had to experience that 'gRATifying' gift from your dog.
    Aren't pets wonderful??
    I brought my mother a GIANT banana spider I found one day on a bush.
    I just handed it to her like it was the BESTEST thing ever !
    And, I'm not a pet. She fainted.

  24. I LOVE Elfie's smile. What a mighty hunter he is! I agree with you Jasmin, dogs DO teach us so much.

  25. I once offered to pay my son (only 7 at the time) to remove a dead mouse with a shovel. Fear has no shame.

  26. I'm trying to find an elephant toy that trumpets for my dog! He had one but after several surgeries and patching of holes, the poor thing doesn't make noise anymore. Do you remember where you got it or the name of maker?

    Hilarious story... my first down would bring deer antlers home after the neighbors had gone hunting.



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