The Rat Terrier Is the Dog That Will Save DC

The Rat Terrier Is the Dog That Will Save DC
Photo taken of Rat Terrier "Shorty" demonstrating upright ears.

On Monday, the extermination company Orkin announced that DC is the third rattiest city in the US based on the number of times we called Orkin for help. In 2014, when the company compiled the same list, DC was also ranked third. Clearly, asking the Orkin Man isn’t getting it done.

Other cities agree and are taking tactical measures. In Chicago, mayor Rahm Emanuel is throwing dry ice down the rats’ burrows in Washington Square Park, an idea he cribbed from Boston. If it works there, Emanuel says, he’s going to do it everywhere.

Rooting out these scurrying plague-gerbils where they make their home is fine, but these burrows are shockingly small and hard to find. Because of rats’ unsettling, flexible body shape, they can wriggle through spaces half their size, like in this found-footage of the Rat King, freed from the sewers and surprising the humans who used to be in charge above-ground.

And therein lies the problem. We can’t fight a war on rodents on the rodents’ turf. We need to fight it up here, on the streets we call home, where everything we’re striving to protect is within sight. And we won’t wage this war with dry ice or chemicals we can’t pronounce, but with man’s best friend right where he should be, right by our side.

The rat terrier is possibly the cutest, most unfortunately named weapon we have in the fight against the rats. Don’t believe me? Check out a whole slideshow of these adorable vermin-chasers with hearts of gold.

But don’t be seduced by their cuddlesome exteriors–these farm dogs have been protecting their humans from pizza-snatching tramps since the days of yore, when sailors took them aboard big Tudor ships to sniff out the rats above deck. And while our roving parade of urban rat terriers will need to be bigger and thus cuter than anything the world has yet to see, it can certainly be done.

So are you ready to join the battle for Adams Morgan, where rats outnumber sober people on a Friday night? Do you want to walk the swampy Georgetown streets at 3AM without fear? Do you want to live in a city where you can drop your jumbo slice on U Street and know it will still be there when you look down? The solution is not to call the exterminator. The solution is to adopt the exterminator (which you can do here and here.) Let’s teach those rats what Splinter should have suggested from the beginning. We don’t fight rats with turtles. We fight rats with pets.

Don’t miss a new restaurant again: Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.


Staff writer

Amanda joined Washingtonian in January 2016. She has written about Maryland brewery Flying Dog’s First Amendment fight, pored over Hillary Clinton’s emails, and come clean about owning too much stuff. She lives on H Street.