William Ratfriend

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It's raining fairly hard here in Chicago this morning—not like in Texas, certainly, but hard enough that there's standing water a foot deep in places on our street. Ella and I just got back from an hour-long walk in that deluge. We had a famous time, chasing wet squirrels in the park and clambering on the maze of playground equipment that is forbidden to dogs.

Ella was kind enough to deposit a pile of turds near a large plastic rolling waste bin. It was the kind of bin with a hinged lid that is supposed to stay closed to keep rats out. The lid was open, though, and I swung the tied plastic bag of Ella's turds through the air and into the bin. Two points!

But the thud and swish of the bag landing in the bin was followed immediately by a harsh, raspy squeal. Startled, I moved near the bin and peered over the rim. A medium-sized rat was hunched in the sludgy foot of garbage at the bottom. I jerked back, then peered in again. The rat was soaked and looked terrified.

I drew back again. I had never seen a terrified rat before. I didn't know if it was injured, or if it had babies in there, or what, but clearly it was unable to climb the smooth, wet sides of the bin and escape.

I didn't really take much time to think it over. Really, the rat and were enemies. If it were in my basement, I would not hesitate to lay a giant trap to snap its spine. But the park was neutral ground, a human-rodent-canine DMZ. After looking around to make sure that Ella was sniffing somewhere else and not paying attention—she likes to chase rats almost as much as rabbits and squirrels—I carefully tipped the bin away from me. I heard the garbage shift and the rat squealed again. When the bin lay on its side on the ground, a gush of filthy water flooded out.

I moved around to the opening and peered in. The rat was pacing back and forth above the garbage on a sort of lip on the bottom of the bin, where the wheels on the outside were recessed. Now that I could see it better, it did not appear injured. I figured I'd done what I could and walked away to join Ella as she sniffed for rats under the playground equipment.

I looked back at the bin a minute later from a distance and saw the rat's head poke out. It scurried out and I lost sight of it almost immediately. Before we left the park, I righted the bin again, and Ella was never the wiser.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/469729.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on September 13, 2008 9:16 AM.

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