A letter to the mouse that died in my kitchen last night

Dear Mouse,
You’ve probably been living in the basement your whole life, and today wasn’t even too cold. The cat, Schwartz, was feeling lively and caught you. I didn’t even know about you until I heard your peeps and squeaks by the back door.  Were you injured at that point, or just protesting?
Anyway, my first error was calling the dogs. It was an impulse. They found you with Schwartz and started the mad chase into the bathroom and around the toilet. That was me, the one screaming. Why I screamed I can’t say. I had pet rodents as a kid: mice, a hamster, a gerbil, a rat. I picked them up and carried them around. They were my pets. Sometimes they got loose and I had to catch them and put them back. I didn’t scream then. I must have been a better person then, somehow. Well, it wasn’t a little screaming. Sorry about the screaming.
Captain was the next one to pick you up and carry you around. He was the one who got you wet, I think. But when I shouted at him he dropped you and then Cherry snatched you up. She isn’t the quickest dog in the house, owing to her age, but tonight she was the deadliest.
You died quickly, mouse, and Cherry guarded you for a long time. She was very proud of what she’d done, and wouldn’t let anyone look at you or smell you or take you. She didn’t seem interested in eating you, which I would have let her do as the one who did the deed. Somehow, to my mind that seemed fair. Cherry appeared a little confused by the situation. Instinct ruled when she caught you and when she dispatched you, but after that she wasn’t sure. She growled at Schwartz, even, and she never growls at Schwartz.
There was no question of burying you since it’s nothing but ice outside right now. Maybe we could have left you out for the coyotes or the foxes, but where should one leave such an offering? Alas, you went into the trash.
You left a family behind, I’m sure. Schwartz is down there waiting for the next one of you. This is how it is with cats and mice. He keeps his cool, crouching quietly behind the boxes. He knows your habits, and makes a plan. Y’all don’t live very long, do you, mice? Between the hardships of weather and finding food, and then the cat or the foxes and hawks outside, life for you must be harsh and brief. I haven’t had it easy lately either, what with all the injustice in the world.  But I have a warm house, and food, and with any luck I shouldn’t have to watch predators capture and eat my children.

Did you leave behind hopes and dreams, unfulfilled? Will your family sigh over your promises unkept? Are they dividing your possessions as I write this, or do they not yet know? Will they be left wondering whatever happened to you? Maybe they heard the screams. I’m still sorry about the screams.

Vizsla, with mouse

A Pluto Story: Vizslas

I had cats and other pets growing up, but never a dog.  In 1992 my husband and I were living in the Bay Area, and went to a big dog show at the Cow Palace. Walking around with our son in a baby-backpack, we saw a lot of breeds we had never even heard of before, including a Hungarian breed, the Vizsla. My husband was born in Hungary, and escaped from the communist regime in Hungary with his family when he was a small child. The privilege of owning a real Hungarian dog was meaningful to him, and the more we learned about Vizslas the more interested we became.

We were told that the Vizsla is a breed dating back to the 9th century. A gentleman’s walking and shooting dog, the Vizsla may have been originally developed by the Magyars to hunt with falcons. The dog is a pointer/retriever, capable of finding prey birds, pointing, flushing the birds on command, and retrieving the bird after it is knocked from the sky by a falcon. If you ever wonder what inventive Hungarians are like, think about that Magyar, who contrived to train two animals to do most of the hard work of hunting.
Vizslas were also always intended to be family companions, as well, and I have not met one yet who is not a couch-potato in the home.
After the second World War, because of their associations with wealthy landowners, the breed was almost completely wiped out by the communists in Hungary. The story I read said that eleven purebred Vizslas were rescued by a Canadian breeder who smuggled them out of Hungary in the early 1950s to reestablished the breed abroad.  Today the AKC standard says that the dog should be “A natural hunter endowed with a good nose and above-average ability to take training. Lively, gentle-mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive though fearless with a well-developed protective instinct. Shyness, timidity or nervousness should be penalized.”  I believe that this means those who make the best Vizslas do so by trying to meet this standard. I have not met Vizslas “bred for hunting” with the same outgoing, positive nature as those “bred for show.”
That having been said, I know that there are an awful lot of homeless pets in the world, and would encourage anyone interested in a dog or cat to consider going to find an adoptable companion languishing in a shelter. Both dogs and cats know when they’ve been given a second (or third) chance.