My job is to protect my mistress, but everyone knows that terriers are really good at catching, and killing mice.
My problem is that one of my best friends is a mouse.
It’s a long story so maybe I should start at the beginning.
When I was in the litter, and not much older than a bottle of milk, my mum taught me that we all have a job in life and that is why our human feeds us; because we are of service. She said that some of us would be pets and it would be our job to bark a lot whenever strangers got too close to the house. She also said that we came from a long line of mousers. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I tried to make it look like I knew what she was talking about.
I asked one of the older pups what ‘mouser’ meant and he explained that because we are very patient and very fast, we are good at catching and killing mice.
I’d never seen a ‘mice’ so I was curious to find out what they looked like. I hoped that they were not as big as the horse that lived on our farm because I wasn’t sure I could catch and kill one of those. As it turned out, mice are small and furry and they dart about quite quickly so they are hard to catch.
One sunny autumn afternoon I was in the barn looking for a mouse to chase; just for practice.
I climbed up the tall ladder because I thought that maybe mice liked to be up high. I was a good climber for a young dog, but I found that being up high made me feel funny. Everything started to spin around and I found it difficult to stand up. I staggered around a bit and got my back leg caught up in a length of rope. I got a bit scared and toppled off the landing and found myself hanging in mid air suspended by the rope attached to my back leg. It hurt and I felt sick. Hanging upside down is only fun for a short while, then it gets scary.
To make it worse, I hadn’t seen any mice. My whole day was a complete failure and heaven only knew how long it would be before someone found me. I could starve, or die of thirst, or my leg could fall off. I was in real trouble.
“Do you need any help?” The voice was tiny and I could not hear where it was coming from.
“Well, do you?”
“Yes, I’m stuck. Can you get me down?” I said to whoever it was who was offering assistance.
“I could chew thru the rope, but you would be hurt when you hit the ground, so I had better move some straw under you.”
“Makes sense to me.” At this stage, any help was welcome. I could hear something rustling around in the straw and it was tiny. Whatever it was, it was going to take a long time for it to move enough straw to break my fall.
I must have passed out, or fallen asleep, because when I awoke there was a small pile of straw on the floor directly under me. It wasn’t very thick, and it occurred to me that my landing was still going to hurt.
Someone was nibbling on the rope above me and before too long I heard a small voice say, “Brace yourself, I’m nearly through the rope.”
“Okay, I’m ready,” I said.
“You won’t eat me once you get free will you?”
“Of course not, why would I?”
“I’m a mouse, and terriers catch mice.”
“Don’t worry little mouse. You are saving me so I’ll make sure that the other dogs leave you alone.” At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this promise, but I would worry about that when I was free again.
The mouse finished his job and I hit the floor hard. One of my back legs hurt a lot, but I could walk.
I was in a lot of pain, but I did say thank you to the invisible mouse before I limped off back to my pack.
My mum said I was very foolish and she licked me all over, twice!
My leg hurt for a couple of days but it soon came good and there were no long lasting ill-effects.
I went back to the barn a few times, but I didn’t find the mouse who helped me. I wasn’t sure how I would recognise him, even if I did run into him.
It was getting close to the time that I would have to go out into the world and work with my own human. Two of my brothers had already gone to their new homes. My mum was sad each time it happened, but she always said that that it is the way of the world, children grow up and leave home and make a life for themselves. It all seemed a bit scary to me, but I tried not to show it. Terriers are tough and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak. Mum told me to make a fuss of the strange humans who came to look at the litter, but I didn’t need telling, I like humans. Naturally, I’ve heard some bad stories, but so far I’ve only come across kind humans.
It seemed like I would be leaving any day when I made a final visit to the barn. A couple of older dogs were barking at something behind a hay bale. I could hear the mouse squeaking and I knew it was trapped. I recognised his voice and I boldly jumped into the middle of the action and barked at the older dogs.
For a second, they stopped and then they growled at me. I think they thought I was trying to steal the mouse for myself. I had to do some pretty fancy talking to get them to believe my story. They called me a bunch of bad names, but they let the mouse go free. I had kept my promise, but I was not sure what would happen the next time because I would not be around to save him.
The mouse and I talked it over and decided that he had better come with me when I get collected. This was going to be a lot harder than it sounded.
I had worked out that the humans usually brought a box with them when they came to collect one of my brothers or sisters, and the mouse would have to be smart enough and quick enough to get into that box without being seen. I could create a small diversion, but it would not give him very much time. If they saw him, they would surely kill him. People don’t like mice. He was indeed, taking his life into his hands, but I guess he knew that this hair-brained scheme was better than being cornered in the barn the second I left.
The mouse stayed close to me for the next couple of days. He hid out under a broken plant pot not far from the front door of the big house. He only came out at night and only long enough to eat and drink.
On the third day, some strange humans came to where our litter was and the big one picked me up and looked right at me. He said something to the other human and put me down on the ground and attached a lead to my collar. I’d only been wearing the collar for a few days and I didn’t like it much, but every dog seemed to have one so I put up with it.
As they led me towards their car there was a box on the ground close by. I saw the mouse start to run in its direction and I began to bark as loud as I could, which wasn’t very loud, but it did the trick. Everyone looked at me, which gave the mouse time to climb into the box and hide under the blanket.
I wasn’t too happy that the humans laughed at me for barking. They were supposed to be frightened, but I guessed that my bark would get louder as I got older, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
Getting the mouse out of the box was easier than getting him into it and he has been living with us ever since. It’s only me and my mistress these days, she got rid of the male human, apparently he was, “a no good, good for nothing, waste of space.” I guessed that this meant that he wasn’t pulling his weight, and doing his job, whatever that was.
I like the way things are now. I don’t get lonely. I have lots of adventures and I have my mistress and the mouse to talk to, but I have to keep them apart.
She really doesn’t like mice.
For such a small pleasant creature, they sure do stir up some bad feeling. I’ve talked to the mouse about it and he doesn’t understand it either. That’s life I guess.
As far as I know, I’m the only terrier who has a mouse as a friend, but then again, maybe there are others, and maybe, just like me, they don’t want anyone to know.
I have to go now.
Mouse is expecting me.
We are going to walk down to the creek and sit on a log and talk about life.