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So, how exactly do you get a mouse out of a dog's mouth? Asking for a friend.

The "friend" knows you don't do it by yelling at the dog to drop it. And you don't do it by squirting the dog in the face with a water bottle. And there's no way you can do it by gently but firmly trying to pry the dog's jaws open.

OK, here's the backstory. Because there's always backstory.

My youngest daughter was about to join my wife on a trip, so she decided to stay with us for a few days. Under normal circumstances, that might be a nice little trip down Memory Lane to a time when she lived here, keeping us laughing and leaving piles of laundry all over the house. No, those two things are not connected.

This time, however, she brought Heidi with her.

Heidi is a not-quite-1-year-old Irish setter. At least that's the legal description. She has a Jimmy Durante (Google him)-like nose, a beautiful reddish coat, boundless energy and the IQ of door knob. And not even a particularly smart door knob. The kind of door knob whose parents get called in to "talk" a lot.

She enters every room on a dead gallop and proceeds to bounce off every person, piece of furniture and wall in the place. Somehow, she has even managed to master running into herself.

Despite the fact that she allegedly has a future as a bird dog, she appears to have no real sense of direction and seems to believe every door leads "outside." Which is fine, until she charges into the half-bath and starts spinning around, running into things. Of course, maybe she meant to do that.

All of this would be all right, except that, when it comes to dogs, we're sort of full up with stupid around here. Between Louie the Pomeranian and Otis the ... whatever, we're not exactly the Harvard of the canine world.

At least in the early stages, the visit went well. The little dog was content to hide under the sofa and grumble while Otis was more than happy to have something to chase besides his shadow. But it all headed south about midweek. That's where the mouse came in. Or went out.

Seems I made the mistake of waking Heidi the other night, and she, of course, had to go out. I knew this because she started barking and running downstairs, which sounds remarkably like someone riding a go-cart off the second-floor landing.

Her owner elected to wait, patiently, at the back door for her to finish whatever she had started, and when the minutes turned into, well, more minutes, we all looked out to see Heidi running madly from one side of the yard to the other.

And when we finally did get her to stop, even in the dark, we could tell she had the south end of a north-bound mouse hanging out of her mouth. So, eating breakfast while you read this, huh?

Now, we're not all that unaccustomed to Animals Who Kill around here. One of our cats used to routinely leave decapitated rabbits on the neighbor's front steps as either a present or a warning (since, no card, kind of hard to tell).

But our previous experiences were with animals who (a) had a rep in the rodent 'hood, so to speak and (b) sort of knew what they were doing. Heidi appeared very much to have no idea what she had just done, but wasn't ready to quit doing it.

For reasons that fall into the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" category, we all decided we should relieve her of the mouse, based on the theory that it wasn't good for her. She begged to differ, and that's where the tug-of-war ensued (and by tug-of-war, I mean us trying to get her to open her mouth, since none of us were going to be pulling on any former rodent).

At some point, we gave in, put her in her kennel for the night and didn't ask any questions about the lack of visible mouse remains in the morning. Some things you just don't want to know.

Not quite sure how much canine-sitting we're going to be doing in the future. However, I do know there needs to be an adjustment to the old adage: If you want a friend, get a dog. Just don't expect her to give you the mouse.

Commentary on 09/29/2017

Print Headline: A gripping account

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