Articles Index/Norfolk Tales
A funny thing happened at my parents home at Thanksgiving.
I went to my parents home in Cedartown, GA, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and as soon as I let my dogs into the house, my Cairn, Katie, made a beeline to my mother's organ in the living room. She stared at it, put her paws up on the bench, whined, and sat beside it for the rest of the day. My mother told me that she had discovered where a rat had been in the drawers of a chest in the room (candy eaten, linens shredded, etc) and she was horrified. They had put a rat trap out and had caught it just that morning. I assumed the rat had been crawling in the organ and had left its scent and that was what Katie was attracted to.
On Thursday, some relatives came to our house for dinner and they couldn't help noticing Katie's strange behavior. She was obsessed with the organ. We all said "Isn't that cute. She's got a terrier's nose." On Friday, Megan, my Norfolk, suddenly caught the fever. The two of them worked themselves into a frenzy. They alternately stuck their heads in the hole where the pedal was and jumped up on the bench to sniff the keyboard. Megan even climbed up on the keyboard. They barked, whined, pawed the pedals--all behavior like "working the rat" in an earthdog trial. I could hardly get them to go outside or eat. Then late Friday evening my father came to me and said, "Look what I found under the pedals". He had a dead baby (newborn) rat in a cup. I went running in there and we couldn't see any more babies but I could hear faint squeaking. This was driving the "earthdogs" crazy. Eureka!
There must be a nest of abandoned baby rats in the organ. My mother was less than thrilled to learn of this development. The next morning, my father found two more babies but these were alive; and I still heard squeaking in the organ. I couldn't comprehend how these newborns were surviving without any nourishment for four days. That was quite amazing. We called my cousin to come over and move the organ out and take the back off so that we could get the nest out; but he couldn't come over until the next day, Sunday. By this time, Katie and Megan were driving everyone nuts. When my cousin got the back of the organ off, the nest was up at the level of the keyboard and it had two more babies, one dead and one alive. Katie and Megan had pinpointed the exact location of the nest. One of the photos shows Katie staring at the keyboard in front of the spot.
Mother was mortified; but I told her it was a great story and it was a good thing Katie had alerted us about the nest; otherwise they might have had a strange odor and not known where it was coming from. I was proud of them in spite of their whacky behavior.
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