That year we had more rodents than ever. Nothing surprising as 32 large bags of Purina dog food were enough to feed a population of brown rats, a population of black rats and plenty of mice. They lived peacefully, never fought and were in excellent shape (it was then that I discovered that rats the size of a Dachshund aren’t just the creation of a journalist’s vivid imagination). When at last the steel boxes were delivered and the remaining dog food was put away, the rats left into the night leaving a 20 cm wide track in the snow. Some of them climbed about our fence like squirrels for a week or so, but finally they also went away. The mice stayed having decided that they’ll be able to find food anyway.

The mice were fat and fearless and weren’t scared of the dogs although Foma who was later joined by Shmonya caught them. Atlon however showed little interest in rodents despite his feline nickname Murzik.

Murzik is lying on the sofa. A mouse, absolutely unabashed, sits down in front of the couch and starts grooming itself. The dog pretends not to notice. The mouse continues its grooming. Muzik feels that it would be impolite to ignore it and barks. The mouse gives him a bemused look, “Honestly, bro, can’t you see I’m busy styling myself!” Atlon barks again hoping that this animal so popular in cartoons will get it this time. No such luck. The mouse obviously wants to test his patience. The dog can’t bear it anymore and stretches out his foreleg and pokes the animal with his paw. Deeply insulted the mouse scuffles away. Atlon sighs happily.

When the main rodent slayer, Foma, had passed away, Vasya became the leader of the pack and banned mouse hunting. Shmonya chases a mouse, Vasya starts chasing Shmonya. Maybe he considered mouse hunting a too low task, maybe he didn’t want Shmonya to take any decisions of his own, but the ban was definite and final. Yet when we got a Schnauzer we had faint hopes that this ratting dog’s instincts will get the better of him and someone would tell the cheeky rodents that banging the pots and pans at night isn’t very nice. And it seemed our wishes had come true. On one of his first days with us Benya proudly presented a caught mouse to Alex. We were overjoyed, but it turned out that we had raised our hopes in vain. The next time he met a relative of Mickey Mouse Benya showed egoistic instincts. Instead of hunting it down, he gathered up all his possessions that were scattered about the house and put them into his crate. Then he sat down at the entrance ready to protect his toys. As balls and rubber shoes failed to interest the mouse Benya stopped caring about rodents. We’ll probably have to get a cat after all.

By Natalia Osvenskaya,
Translated by Xenia Wagner.