A GOOD DOG FOR RATS
By BERNARD DUFFY
"rrHEM rats in the yard is gettin' to be shockin' I agreed that the rats were becoming very audacious.
" I was thinking of getting something from the chemist for them," I said.
" Not a bit of use," said Mulnarry, " they thrive on them things. What you want is a gobd terrier that'll make mince- meat of them, an' I know the very dog that'll suit you—a dog with a bit of breedin' that can be got cheap."
" What's wrong with him? " I asked, suspiciously.
" There's nothin' wrong with him," said Mulnarry, " an' every thing is right, except that he likes raw eggs. But sure, that'd be no fault here, as you don't keep hens."
" Who owns him? " I inquired.
" Well," replied Mulnarry, rather sheepishly, " as a matter of fact, I do. But the missus won't have him round our house at any price. You see," he explained, " she put a sittin' of eggs under a cluckin' hen yesterday, and the first time the hen left the nest for a snack, the dog gulped down eleven of the eggs while you'd be winldn'."
" Very annoying for your wife," I remarked: " She was fit to be tied," said Mulnarry. " That this an' that of a dog of yours is after eatin' eleven of me eggs,' sez she to me. ' Bless your wit,' sez I, soothin' like, ' they'll not do him a bit of harm.' I'll do him plenty of harm,' sez she, ' if he's not out of this before nightfall.' So that's she way it is. I hate to part with him," he added, wistfully, " for he's the class of a dog that does be winnin' prizes at shows."
" Better bring him here after your dinner," I said, " and I'll have a look at him."
" One look will satisfy you," said Mulnarry, " if you are any sort of a judge of dogs."
When the dog was presented later in the day, he created a good impression immediately. He had the square jaw and the stiff-looking legs of the prize-winning terriers whose photographs are to be seen in the illustrated papers after dog-shows. He was very much on the alert, and never failed to catch any scrap of biscuit in mid-air, no matter how it was thrown to him.
" What did I tell you? " said Mulnarry, proudly. " Ye can see for yourself that he's as quick as lightnin'."
" How did he get on with the rats at your own place? " I asked.
" Well, now, he had no sort of experience of them down there," said Mulnarry, " for since the missus got that scraggy-lookin' red cat, divil a rat is to be seen within a hundred yards of the place."
" What is he worth? " I asked, taking out my pocket- book.
" It's not what he's worth," said Mulnarry, " for it'd be hard to know what that'd be—but what would you say to ten bob? "
I han4ed him a ten-shilling note, and the terrier was installed in the old kennel. Before Mulnarry went back to the garden, I asked him whether the dog had any vice.
" Ye might as well look for oil in a blacksmith's bellows as for vice in that terrier," said Mulnarry. " He wouldn't hurt a fly."
I was soon to discover that he wouldn't hurt a rat either. All that afternoon he lay sunning himself at the door of the kennel while the rats went about their unlawful occa- sions before his very eyes. Watching from the tool- shed I had one gleam of hope when he cocked an ear just as a very large rat came to drink out of his bowl. But it was a false hope. He scratched that ear lazily 'with his hind leg and then let it droop again. I sought out Mulnarry, who was working at the end of the garden. " I'm afraid this dog is not a ratter, Mulnarry," I said, severely.
" An' why, now, are you afraid of that? " said Mulnarry. " He takes no notice of them. He's not blind by any chance? "
" Blind! " cried Mulnarry. " Didn't ye see the way he caught the biscuits and them flyin' through the air like swallas? "
" Well, what's wrong with him? "
" Divil a thing," said Mulnarry, " except that he's had no experience of rats—you see he doesn't rightly know that he's meant to kill them. He's a very wise class of dog that, an' not knowin', so to speak, that rats is vermin, he's maybe under the delusion that they're pets of yours, and he doesn't like to harm them for fear you'd be annoyed."
" But how are we to bring him to his senses? " I asked.
" If we could get a rat to bite him," said Mulnarry, hope- fully, "he'd know then that it was his duty to protect him- self."
He touched a moribund worm with his spade, and it wriggled away.
" Even a worm will turn," he remarked, sententiously, " an' there's no reason why a pure-bred terrier shouldn't turn too, if he got raison to turn. We'll have to get a rat to give him a nip or two."
" Not much chance of that, while he perseveres in this stand-off attitude to them."
" Did ye never hear of Mohamed and the mountain? " asked Mulnarry, with a grin. " If he won't go to the rats, we'll have to bring the rats to him. I'll put the cage-trap on the loft tonight, with a bit of a red-herrin' in it, and a pinch of oatmeal. An' if we catch one of them, we'll put him and the terrier together into that empty barrel and put a lid on it for a while. When we take the lid off, we'll see a dead rat, and a terrier that'll be leppin' mad to make corpses of all the other rats in creation."
This plan was carried out. In the morning we found not one, but two, large rats in the trap. The protesting terrier was taken by the scruff of the neck and was placed in the empty barrel, and the rats were shaken out of the trap and dropped on his back as they fell. Mulnarry quickly placed a couple of short boards on the top of the barrel and weighted them with two large stones from the rockery.
" That'll do the trick," he said, confidently. " I'll be gettin' back to me work, and we can leave them to it. He's sure to tramp on one of them lads from the way he's jumpin', and that'll settle it."
Mulnarry returned to the garden, and I went into the house to write some letters. For some time I could hear the furious yelping of the terrier, and then suddenly there was silence.
" Now," I thought, " he's attending to the rats."
Half an hour later, when I returned to the yard, I found Mulnarry lifting the stones off the boards on the top of the barrel.
" He's unnatural quiet," he remarked, as he gently removed the boards. " I hope he's not smothered."
He looked down into the barrel, and as he did so his face was a study in the expression of conflicting emotions.
" Be-dam-but," he cried, " did ye ever see the like of that? "
I looked down, and saw the terrier and the two rats lying cuddled together and fast asleep.
" I think, Mulnarry," I remarked, " I can advertise him as a good dog for rats."
" The rats will give him a testimonium, anyway," said Mulnarry, with a grin. " But don't sell him—I'll admit he's not worth a curse, but he'll win prizes for you. I'll get one of them scraggy red cats to do the dirty work for him with the rats, while he's displayin' his potstick legs and his oul' square puss at the dog shows."
Since then he has won three cups, for the judges at the shows think he is a splendid dog ; but the scraggy red cat has the utterest contempt for him.