Bear loved rodents. One of his favorite things to do was go to work with my husband. Nose to the ground he’d snort through building materials until he smelled a mouse. The dog could haul 4’ x 8’ sheets of plywood and 2’ x 4’s, and he did, rearranging the jobsite into sort of a post-tornado look. Every once in awhile he found a mouse that hadn’t run for its life during the reconstruction of the construction site. Bear yelped in victory, let loose an excited bark, and broke into his traditional found-a-mouse-dance. If that didn’t take care of the mouse problem, Bear raised a huge paw and stomped the poor creature.
It never occurred to us that the mice would whet Bear’s appetite for furry critters.
Our son, Jordan, decided he needed some rats after being inspired by Flowers for Algernon. We went to the pet store and purchased some feeder rats for a reasonable cost and cage paraphernalia for an amount that probably would’ve provided a month of lodging for a small third world country.
Bear met us at the door. He must’ve smelled a rat. Jordan stood still as Bear circled him and did a quick nose vacuum.
Jordan leaned down and scratched behind Bear’s big, floppy ear. “Hey, Bear, you want to meet your new friend?”
Bear wagged his black plume-tail. The rest of the family gathered around.
Jordan reached into the little rat box and displayed the pink-toed, blinking creature. The rat hunkered down into Jordan’s palm. Jordan extended his hand toward Bear. We all waited for the bark. None came.
But I noticed that Bear’s tail stopped wagging, and a strange look danced across his doggie features. He almost looked guilty. I opened my mouth to mention it. And Bear opened his.
Silence followed. And we all stared at Jordan’s empty hand.