Of mice and men and the battle of wits

I never thought of mice as a problem until this week.

Stuart Little is now persona non grata in my house. Remember that cute mouse Mr. Jingles from the movie “The Green Mile”? Well he deserves to be on death row. And behind Mickey Mouse’s smile, there’s something sinister brewing.

I never thought of mice as a problem until this week. Growing up on a farm in eastern Canada mice were part of package in barns, which in turn brought many a stray cat wandering into the milking parlor for some spilled refreshment and a quick snack on a rodent.

Mice were never a concern despite living in a typical old farmhouse. The mice snuck into the root cellar once and awhile and found some bedding in an old coat left in the darkest part of the basement but rarely did a mouse have the nerve to venture up to the main floor. My mom and a broom not only kept her seven kids in line but probably had the mice reciting ‘Three blind mice,” as a constant reminder of what a farmer’s wife is capable of.

As a young adult I moved west and spent several years in Alberta where mice were almost as invisible as rats.

Even my first 20 years in B.C. were void of any rodent run-ins. I’ve lived in my modest, older house in East Trail for over a decade and never had to deal with mice until this past week.

Perhaps it’s the weird weather year we’re having. Summer only coming in August, tomatoes taking longer than usual to ripen, leaves waiting until November to fall, as usual the animals notice subtle changes more than we do.

So maybe my mini tenants have decided this is the winter to hunker down in some new surroundings.

I knew they were out there but we lived our lives separately with the mice enjoying winter shelter in my shed, sharing it with tools, bikes and summer tires. I didn’t mind, they weren’t a nuisance and didn’t create any outrageous mess.

But suddenly they decided the house is for the mouse and their own little Occupy movement began.

It was a frustrating Saturday as each trap I baited would soon have its tasty treat nibbled off without tripping the devise.

Each time I checked into the dark corner, there would be a smiling rodent scurrying off as if to say, “Thanks for the treat sucker.”

I can only imagine how he was laughing at me and wondering what snack I would prepare for him next. How about some peanut butter? A little old asiago cheese with that? Perhaps some wine to cap off the evening.

I needed help so I turned to the resident guard whose main job is to keep any unwanted strangers out of the house.

Here’s a dog that lives in the lap of luxury. A comfy chair, dinner served every night, fresh cold water daily. In exchange he shows his acute guarding ability by barking when my neighbour coughs or jumping to attention with a growl when a car door slams shut two blocks down the street.

Yet a mouse is having a gourmet meal under the sink, a few feet away, probably leaving requests for dinner and perusing the wine list while my dog doesn’t even raise an ear in alert.

Man’s best friend … yeah right.   Actually I think they might in cahoots. Dogs like cheese so maybe the mouse is buying him off with a share of the haul he’s ripping off from the traps.

Come to think of it I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on the same team. After all, man rules over the dog so the whole “best friend” thing might be all for show and dog food.

The dog and mouse have a lot in common. They want a nice cozy place for the cold nights, they enjoy it when humans leave them food to dine on, both see the culinary appeal of garbage and above all, they share distrust and hate for cats.

With my so-called “best friend” compromised my only option was to turn to the Internet. That’s when I found out I’m not alone in this tug-of-war for turf. People from all corners have waged battles with these mini invaders.

There’s a website titled ihatemice.com. Another one details how to outsmart smart mice although the smart ones have probably set that site up as a ruse for frustrated humans. And yet another in which people just lament the rodent.

The stories are as funny as they are varied. People driven to the edge in their fight to rid their homes of mice and grudgingly acknowledge their foes with that resigned respect that you give someone who flat out beats you at your own game.

There’s no easy solution. Perhaps the hungry rodent will over-eat himself to death. A steady diet of bacon, cheese and peanut butter will put even the fittest athlete in a grave.

I contemplated signing up for an Acme catalogue in hopes some of the devises Wile E. Coyote tried on the Road Runner might help me. But somehow a giant slingshot or a large boulder dropping on my prey doesn’t fit too well in my home.

I eventually resorted to poison in hopes of solving our daylong tit-for-tat. And although I haven’t heard nor scene the little varmint since Sunday, it’s kinda like the hunt for Osama bin Laden – no body therefore no proof that the evildoer is actually gone for good.

If he shows his furry face again, I’ll have to use psychological warfare and try and turn the dog against him to increase my odds.

Maybe I’ll put the mouse’s bowl next to the dog’s, give him a water dish too and have a cushion for him to lie on, relegating the dog’s a little further from the fireplace and a notch down the totem pole. Then we’ll find out who my dog’s “best friend” really is.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Daily Times.