Oh Rats.

Sometime during the wee hours of this morning, we caught Jack, the one-eyed rat. And that is where the trouble began.

But there is a history that goes with the event.

• I love coffee. Making a fresh pot of hot coffee is my first order of the day.
• My order of the day starts at 4 a.m. The dogs too.
• We have three dogs. Maxine, our oldest, is mostly blind and deaf. And gimpy. But she still has that burst of ridiculous-puppy-energy, once a month. This morning was one of those times.
• We are live-trapping raccoons who come to our bird feeders for their midnight snacks.
• We have a pool because we love to swim.

The perfect storm.

So this morning we awoke. As with every morning, I let Frances and Ollie out the back door to go to their “spot.” On this early day, Maxie decided to frolic along with them. I complied, thinking the Three Amigos would stick together.

As I was readying the pot of coffee, I heard the dogs “ferociously” barking, indicating that a raccoon had been snared in one of the traps overnight. I threw on a pair of shoes, grabbed a flashlight, and headed outdoors.

When an animal is in the trap, Frances and Ollie surround it, barking. They tell the fool thing it is in very big trouble now. Very big trouble. It has breached Fran & Ollie Security, trespassed onto their property, and will be sentenced accordingly. Then, they inform the burglar, that he must take off the mask. Off with that mask, they say. Again & again. The raccoon typically tries to resist arrest. The barking melee continues.

Then I come on the scene. I simply pick up the raccoon trap, and carry it into the garage, as I guide Frances and Ollie back into the house.

But this morning, it was Jack. The one-eyed rat. In the trap. No matter. In fact, rats weigh a LOT less than raccoons. And no mask. As I was taking the trio back to the house, my main focus shifted to the absence of Maxine. I decided to get rid of this barking-security-patrol first, and then begin my dark search for little Max.

Back outside, I looked at the pool, and intuitively… my stomach flinched. I ran over near water’s edge and searched the water with my flashlight. And there she was, at the shallow end, floating but not moving.

Adrenaline is a funny thing in humans. It rushes over you like a hot fever and cold chills in the same moment. Your cognizance of your immediate surroundings evaporates, and you have no memory of space or time.

So in a flash, I was pulling Max from the dark water. As soon as I grabbed her, she sputtered, and howled, as I had never heard her before. I carried her back in the house and began toweling her off.

Frances and Ollie looked on… with that expression on their faces… like….. “We thought the pool was off-limits for dog-swimming.”

The long and the short of this. Maxine is just fine. She was kind of low on energy today, and would not leave the calf of my leg, but all in all, okay.

I feel very grateful and fortunate that she did not drown this morning. I am not sure if I could have forgiven myself for that one. But again, another lesson learned. Floaties for all the dogs, from this day forward.

As for Jack, the one-eyed rat. He was sentenced to a life term at the Raccoon Ranch. I bought him a little mask before he left.


“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” 
― Thomas Paine


“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” 
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture


“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”