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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.05.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The cat's pyjamas and the mouse's sweatpants

Our house has a longstanding save-the-critter policy. Many a bumblebee has been captured under glass and released into the wild. Sundry spiders have dangled from fingertips and been whisked quickly out of doors. Toads are strictly catch-and-release.

With five cats, we've had our share of mouse rescues as well. Even those mice that are clearly mortally wounded are freed when possible from the tuna-scented jaws of death and escorted to the safe haven of some backyard shrub. Yes, they're likely to succumb to their injuries or be freshly pounced upon in their weakened state, but as long as it's not on our watch, our consciences are clear.

Mouse liberation doesn't always go off without a hitch. Mice, it turns out, are not clued into the "good Samaritan" shtick. About three years ago, for example, a baby mouse crawled through Abby's window and made fast for the dark corners of her closet. I grabbed a yogurt container and, as Abby watched, began pulling out toys, clothes and possible mouse-harbouring shoes. There it was! Slam! Down came the yogurt container. I got it! Or to be precise, I got half of it.

"Why did you kill it?" Abby asked, appalled.

"I didn't mean to. I should have used a bigger container."

It was quite traumatic. Trust me; it still comes up from time to time.

More recently, at four in the morning last Friday, to be precise, Deb and I were awakened by a ruckus under the bed.

"It's the cat. She's got a mouse," Deb said.

Lights flashed on. Heads peered under bed and nightstands. There was a blur of cat and then a grey streak across the floor.

"I see it!" said Deb, grabbing the cat. "It's in your sweatpants."

Thankfully, I wasn't wearing them at the time.

"Close off the waist and the legs," I said. "I'll take it outside."

Balled-up sweatpants in hand, I stepped onto the back steps, gave my sweatpants a shake by the nearby bushes and went back to bed, but not before turning my sweatpants inside out, just in case. No one likes surprises in their sweatpants...

"Where did you put it?" Deb asked as I slid back under the covers.

"By the back step."

"Where the other cats can find it?"

"They won't find it. It's not like they were watching me."

A half hour later, though, we heard the creepy killer-cat sound outside our window: "Mwrar. Mwrar. Mwrar. Mwrar. I've just. Devoured. Something. Delicious."

The next morning, Deb discovered half a mouse on the back step.

She announced to the kids, "Dad saved a mouse and then put it where the other cats could kill it."

"It wasn't the same mouse!" I insisted. "The field is full of mice."

"You know it was the same mouse," she said.

"You can't prove it," I said.

So imagine how excited I was for redemption when, the very next morning, as I strolled to the washroom at the campsite where we had just spent the night, there, shivering on the rope dividing the deep end of the pool from the shallow, was a wet mouse in desperate need of rescue.

Later at the campsite, my description of the daring-do went something like this:

"There I was, all alone, the pool gate locked, the mouse in peril, barely clinging to life. Thinking nothing of my own safety, let alone the risk of expulsion from the campground for flouting the posted pool hours, I leaped over the fence! Grabbing the pool net, I extended the pole towards the mouse. Not enough! I tried from the other side. Still out of reach! What could I do? I did what I had to do. I got down on my knees, even though there was considerable likelihood that I would not be able to arise after a night spent on a half-inflated mattress. I le-e-e-aned with the pole across the frigid water as far as I could. Yes! I could reach! I scooped up the mouse. It panicked and nearly plunged anew into the icy depths, but I moved swiftly, reaching dry land and releasing the rescued rodent into a roadside rhododendron!"

I paused as my audience absorbed the full impact of my marvelous mousecapade.

"You still let the cat kill that mouse," Deb said.

"Yeah, Dad," said Abby. "Remember when you killed the mouse in my room? Why did you use such a small container?"

Rats.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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