34: Heidi’s Gift

34: Heidi’s Gift

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Heidi’s Gift

Fun fact: Miniature Schnauzers are known as “ratters” because they were developed by German farmers in the late 19th century to keep the rat population under control.

Both teens retired to their rooms. My husband Freddy let our Miniature Schnauzer Heidi out for her final yard inspection before bedding down in her crate. Though she was not a large dog, she would do whatever was necessary to guard her family. Checking out the yard before bedtime was one of her many self-imposed duties. I looked in on the kids while Freddy called Heidi back into the house.

Instead of going to her crate, Heidi rushed past me into my daughter’s room. As she darted by, I tried to grab what looked like dried grass hanging from her beard. In one flying leap, she landed on Teri’s bed among open books and homework.

I went to tell my son goodnight. I’d be back for Heidi when she’d had a few scratches behind her ears.

As I chatted with John about his day, the quiet evening was disrupted by Teri’s shrieking. Her screams were so loud I thought a burglar was in the house. As John and I ran down the hall, we met my husband headed in the same direction.

There was no burglar, but the shrieks continued. Puzzled, we stepped into the room.

Heidi sat in front of Teri on the pink bedspread, tail wagging, ears up, and paws together. She looked like a little general standing at attention. Teri was bouncing up and down flailing her arms about while she continued to scream.

She was able to get out a few words to give us a clue as to the cause of her terror. She pointed to Heidi. “Look. Look. Look.” We hurried over to the bed.

Heidi seemed so proud as she sat behind her offering to Teri: a mouse. Somewhat crippled but still alive, the mouse wriggled as Heidi stood guard.

Schnauzers are mousers. They earn their keep catching — and usually killing — mice for their owners. Teri had been chosen from the four people in our home to receive the spoils of her backyard reconnaissance. Perhaps in Heidi’s mind, a live mouse was better than a dead one.

My husband stepped forward. He took the treasure outside and didn’t bother us with the details. Meanwhile, my son and I were laughing so hard that my daughter’s terror turned into indignation.

We laughed even harder at her version of the story. When Heidi jumped on her bed, Teri reached over to pull a piece of dried grass out of her beard. When she discovered she was pulling a live mouse’s tail, the screams began. Hoping to appease her mistress, Heidi laid the mouse as close to Teri as possible.

Later, as the house returned to normal, I remembered trying to grab what I thought was dried grass in Heidi’s beard. Had I succeeded, I would have denied Heidi the chance to bestow her gift on Teri and we would have been deprived of a great family memory.

~Carole A. Bell

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