I’d like to say it’s because I work with death on a constant basis and have seen enough pain for multiple lifetimes.  I’d like to say that my overexposure to all things sad have broken down a cold soul and made me into someone soft.

But the fact is this: I’m simply a sensitive person … I’ve been that way as long as I can remember.

I’m not the “sensitive guy” that gets his feelings hurt over small relational misgivings.  Nor am I “that guy” that cries at sad commercials (okay, so that Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty commercial brings tears close to the surface) .

No. I’m the type that feels for others to such a degree that I have to consciously control my heart with my mind.  Like people who have big minds and poor social skills, or jocks with mad ball skills but little brain skills, I’ve had to recognize that having a “big heart” makes me slightly inept in other areas.

But things that “normal” people don’t mind killing — like a fly or mice — me and my over sensitivity tend to let live.

I hate killing things.  Anything.  I should qualify that “anything” by saying “anything except stink bugs.”

*****

This past month we noticed that our dog picked up one or two fleas.  At the same time we noticed we had new friends living with us … a family of mice invaded our 170 year old kitchen.  My first thought was that the fleas on our dog and the mice in our kitchen were probably connected and so, wanting to keep our house free of the side-effects of fleas, which can include infestation, raw skin on Yogi from over itching and even tape worms, I set out to dispose of the mice and the fleas.

I like to kill mice as humanely as possible.  So I stay away from poison and use those good ‘ol Victor Traps, as they make a mice’s death quick and painless.

Or so I thought.

After disposing of about three mice painlessly, I got home from work to find a mouse with his leg stuck in the trap.  I tried, as best I could, to repress my own pain over this mouse’s broken leg, and to approach the situation rationally.  I thought to myself, “How can I get this guy out of my house without killing him?”

So, not thinking too hard about it, I walked about a quarter mile and released him into the wild.

“Mouse out of house … maimed leg, but he still had a good possibility of living”, I consoled myself.

*****

We’ve been keeping Yogi out of the kitchen with a child’s gate so that he doesn’t get his curious nose stuck in a Victor.  But last night, after I came home late, I grabbed a bowl of cereal and forgot to close the gate and Yogi came wondering in with me.

He stayed away from the Victor trap, but wondered over to a little hidden corner and started sniffing around.  I yelled at him and he, like most stubborn Lhasa Apsos, responded little to my verbal rebukes.   I grabbed his collar, pulled him away and saw what he was sniffing.

There in the corner was a mouse.  Just sitting there.  He didn’t seem stunned by the dog … just tired … like he had been poisoned.  I quickly grabbed a Tupperware container and trapped him.  He didn’t seem to care too much.  I then put a big dollop of peanut butter on top of a mouse trap and figured by morning we’d have one less mouse and be a step closer to flealessness.

I was wrong.  About the mouse.  He didn’t fall for the trap.

In the morning, there he was, barely breathing, but still alive.  I grabbed a latex glove and picked him up by the tail only to notice his right rear leg was maimed.  “No!” I thought to myself.  After three days, that poor mouse had found his way back into our house … back to his home.

And I knew what I had to do, but my heart said “no.”  I wrestled with the idea of nursing him back to health; and maybe in another time of my life I would have, but I’ve trained myself to put my mind over my sensitivities and so I took him outside and made his death as quick and painless as I possibly could.

And I don’t know what’s more sad: the fact that I’m such a sap or that I killed this poor little maimed mouse?

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