In search of ponies: Joining the rat race

Sharna Johnson

I had a rat roaming around in my house.

Before you get alarmed or too disgusted, he wasn’t the kind found in New York subways or unsavory restaurants, not that that minor detail entirely mitigates the situation, but it helps a little.

To the contrary, he was a nutritionally well-balanced, plump, not-so-little morsel who turned the tables of fortune in his favor.

And to be honest, he capitalized on my oversight in forgetting to replace the cap on a feed hole in the roof of his cage.

I discovered he had absconded through said escape route when I went to feed him on my way out the door to work.

Now I have to say this guy had a lucky streak.

He lived in the snake cage with a 7-foot boa overnight, snuggling up with her to sleep before I finally gave up and put him in his own cage out of fear he might end up snacking on her — yes, it really is an “eat or be eaten” world out there where rats nibble on snakes that don’t strike first.

And I have to admit, always the champion of the underdog, I secretly cheered for him when I saw he had survived the encounter where so many before him have failed.

So standing in front of the empty cage, and knowing he was somewhere in the room watching me with his beady little eyes and laughing, I was again struck by the thought that this guy just wasn’t going down that easy.

Gilligan, however, had different ideas.

Finally showing some talent other than a propensity for mischief and the ability to spin in mid-air, I heard loud sniffing and saw wagging tail and butt-o-terrier-mutt sticking out from under the bed.

And it was on

Belly crawling, whining, wiggling between storage boxes and flying over the bed to get to the other side of the room — there went my boy.

I saw the scurrying black specter here and there, followed by a scruffy black and white blur as they dove into the closet, back under the bed, over the bed, under the desk, behind the desk then back to the closest.

Feeling like a clumsy giant dropped into a high speed cartoon with the characters squishing and springing and flying, I tried to keep up, grabbing the stack of books that was sliding, or trying to stop the box of Christmas decorations from toppling.

“Forget the rat, catch the dog,” I thought, recognizing the dog had unseated the rat as the most acute issue at hand.

Finally collaring his 20-some-pounds of quivering go-get-em, I ran for the door, his legs still scurrying in the air not ready to concede the race.

Safely on the other side of the door, I took a deep breath and decided to save the hunt for another time.

And I promised if/when I caught my new roommate, I wouldn’t feed him to the snake, after all, the underdog (or rat) has to win sometime.

Over the next few days I put things out for him to snack on and a small thing of water, checking the room several times a day to try and catch him — to no avail.

I’m guessing he never found the water and food, because I did eventually find him, and let’s just say he didn’t win.

Next time maybe we’ll go ahead and try it Gilligan’s way.

Sharna Johnson is a staff writer for Freedom New Mexico. She can be reached at