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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Compulsive Behavior, Catching Mice, and Command Prompt

Yesterday, in the morning, there was a little mouse in the pens and Bow's attention was all riveted on the mouse. He alerted me to its presence by my making a low gentle, bilabial kind of sound that seems a little like "boo". This is a sound he makes when something unexpected emerges.

Just as I was trying to figure out how to catch the mouse without doing harm to it or letting it bite me, Lawrence arrived. He went through the usual routine of locking the glass doors behind him when he came in, and then unlocking one of the grated doors to go into the pen adjoining where Bow was, and just as he did so, the mouse scurried out, but it was trapped in the small anteroom between the glass doors and the pen. Lawrence did not notice the mouse till I drew his attention to it. Then he said he could kill it for me if I wanted. I said it would be better if he helped me to catch it, so I could release it away from the house. He trapped it under a miniature Folger's coffee can (made of red plastic), but he could not slide the black lid under that, so I gave him a laminating sheet which was a better fit. Then Lawrence turned the can over and instructed me to hold the laminating sheet down tight, because otherwise the mouse would escape. Under these conditions, I could not take the mouse far. I couldn't drive to the wildlife preserve and not accidentally release the mouse in the car.

So I walked in the freezing weather with no coat on, holding on to the can with one hand and the laminating sheet with the other, until I reached the barbed wire fence next to the road. But when I removed the laminating sheet, the tiny, tiny little grey mouse could not scamper up the steep walls of the coffee can by himself. I had to gently tip it the ground to help him escape. It was not an adult mouse. I thought it was a baby, but Lawrence said it must have been a juvenile. I wonder if it found its way right back to the house, or decided to find a new home.

When I got back to the pens, I set up Bow's computer so that it was plugged in on the inside of the pen adjoining Bow's, so Lawrence could take it in with him to play with Bow. Bow is less destructive than he used to be, so he can have direct access to the computer under close supervision. We were hoping that if Bow were allowed to have the touchscreen with him, and did not need to use the chopstick to touch it, he might be able to spell out words better.

But you know what he did when he had direct access to the computer? He closed the program with the talking keyboard, and he opened a window in Command Prompt.

"He made the screen go black again," Lawrence reported to me. This happened twice. Once in the morning, and a second time in the afternoon.

Whenever I set up Bow's program, I always open a Command Prompt window first and then type in the name of the executable. I wonder whether Bow is trying to imitate me.

Anyway, even when Bow has given up his compulsive physical attacks on objects, he still feels the need to destroy the setup electronically. He seems to have a compulsion for behavior that is not constructive, albeit the destruction at this point is only virtual. He doesn't smash the screen. He just closes the communication program. Maybe he'd be good at writing computer viruses.

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