The Setup

Nicodemus is a fearless sociopath with millenia of accumulated knowledge, a nearly flawless dueling record, and the support of Anduriel, who can suppress magic at will, gain situational awareness by eavesdropping nearly anywhere, perform shadow/perception trickery, and is otherwise reputed to be deadly. Further, he has some degree of immortality/unkillability from his noose, although it is also a weakness to him in close combat and seems to not help him against the Swords in particular.

Nicodemus is visibly taken aback the first time he meets Mouse. I believe this happens in Small Favor, and I recall his exacts words being "What is THAT?", along with a description of him visibly recoiling or otherwise becoming nervous. Anduriel may recoil as well. At the end of Skin Game, after Butters actualizes a faith light saber from the shattered Sword, Nicodemus finally flees outright when Mouse joins the fight.

So, why is Mouse so startling and threatening to Nicodemus?

My thoughts on this are:

  1. Mouse, although outside of Nicodemus' Christian mythology and power structure, is highly threatening because as a temple guard dog he functions like a mobile, combat ready version of a Church threshold. He might be able to strip or suppress Nicodemus' power simply by getting near him.
  2. Nicodemus may not know what Mouse is, even though he can sense power in him. This seems unlikely given that one of Nicodemus' recent opposites in the Knights of the Cross is a Japanese swordsman and that Nicodemus has at least two millenia on the Earth to encounter other mythologies and supernatural realms. I find it particularly interesting that not only is Nicodemus threatened by Mouse, he may be unsure of what Mouse is. He is certainly knowledgable yet unafraid of powerful extra-Christian beings like Mab.
  3. Mouse may actually be or house something more powerful than the standard Foo Dog demon. Or, in improvising to draw power from non-standard sources since he is paired with a wizard who has no thresholded home to protect, he may have become something different and more powerful. In this case, Nicodemus knows exactly what a Foo Dog is but is taken aback by a Foo Dog carrying around a level of power it should only have inside its temple/home threshold.
  4. Over the course of the series, we come to understand that Mouse has a human level of intelligence, and in Changes we learn that he can talk, although Harry only understands him when turned into one of Lea's hounds. I don't know much from the mythologies Butcher draws from in creating his in-universe Foo Dog, and Butcher has not explained all that much. Can we know if it is remarkable for a Foo Dog to have this level of intelligence?
  5. Foo Dogs are the scion of a temple dog and a celestial spirit. Any celestial spirit? Potentially a godlike/god-level spirit?

What other possibilities am I missing? What other interesting clues and tidbits tell us something important about Mouse? What is Mouse, if anything more than an innovative Foo Dog, and what might we expect from him going forward? Butcher likes to build up to interesting twists and convervenges, and it seems like Mouse is ripe for one of these.

Footnote: Unfortunate that there are not any tags for the religions/mythologies Butcher drew from for Mouse; Buddhism, Shinto, Tibetan, etc.

  • Where is it said that Anduriel can suppress magic at will? I don’t recall that trick.
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 0:11

8 Answers 8


Mouse, as a Foo Dog, is a scion.

In human terms in the Dresdenverse, that usually means half-mortal, half-supernatural, or some other mix like that. In this case, Mouse is a mix of a divine guardian spirit and a very large dog.

If you want real world parallels, you can image-search foo dogs - they are the giant guardian statues in some Asian cultures, which is likely where the divine heritage draws from. They are everywhere and in every size, a very common symbol of protection. It's also mentioned in-series that Mouse looks like a Caucasian Shepherd, which you can also image search for an idea of the kind of physical beast of a dog Mouse is. There are humans that are smaller than these dogs.

So effectively, a mobile guardian angel in a physical form that might go toe-to-toe with a bear.

Now, Nicodemus doesn't scare easy. The Swords were explicitly designed to go up against him and his cohorts, to neutralize Anduriel and the other coins, and he will go toe to toe with anyone wielding one, so long as he thinks he can get an advantage. He also doesn't think much of divine protection, will plink an archangel in the nose, but those things are largely limited like thresholds are. What Mouse represents is something that is very angel-like, doesn't seem to have an observable limit like a threshold that it has to guard, and has really really big teeth. I should add - that last part Nick doesn't have to worry about, owing to his near-immunity to physical harm. Against a divine being, however, the implication is that Anduriel is the one with fear, and that not being physical or hiding in a shadow won't necessarily stop Mouse.

If Nick had figured out a plan to counter such a thing, he might have been calmer. As it was... well, it would be kind of like trying to have a sword fight and finding your opponent suddenly has a lightsaber.

  • 1
    Before I read Skin Game, I didn't quite understand why you mentioned a lightsaber in that last sentence. now that I read SG, I understand that part.
    – Nzall
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 15:50
  • 4
    @Nzall - Heh. I think half my answers on this site are riddled with vague attempts to be clever. Occasionally it works. Sorry for confusing you till now.
    – Radhil
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 15:55

A quick word of "god/Jim" about mouse

Basically: Foo dogs gain strength based on what treshold they are set to guard. At that point in the story, Mouse is garding the Carpenter's home. You know, the place that's solid owned, lived in and guarded by a whole bunch of warrior angels... Major treshold = Major Foo dog


There is another salient point which has ignored, or simply left out. Dresden's fairy godmother, Lea, in Changes was threatened with death by Mouse. Her response was that Mouse was far from his base of power. Mouse then replied that he lives with a wizard so he cheats. Also in that exchange was the tidbit that Harry had not won Mouse, but that Mouse had won Harry. Interesting and fertile ground for future plots, no?


People always seem to neglect this part when asking about Mouse (From Ghost Story):

Uriel stood over us, smiling down, but said nothing.

"Missed you, too, boy," I said. "Just . . . kind of stopping by to say good-bye."

Mouse's tail stopped wagging. His big, doggy eyes regarded me very seriously, and then glanced at Uriel.

"What has begun must finish, little brother," Uriel said. "Your task here is not yet over."

Mouse regarded the archangel for a moment and then huffed out a breath in a huge sigh and leaned against me.

  • That certainly indicates something. What do you think it is?
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 23:27
  • 2
    Isn't that where Mouse is guarding Harry's daughter? Mouse is eager to rejoin Harry and looks to Uriel to find out what's going on because he's repeatedly shown himself wise enough to know who the decision maker is in a situation. Uriel essentially says that Harry still has a job to do, and Mouse must continue his duty. My take on that; I don't think it has deeper implications.
    – Saiboogu
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 5:48
  • 4
    @Saiboogu - I think it was more the fact that the dude who can casually obliterate galaxies called the dog 'little brother'.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 21:45

Possible Spoilers... if you didn't already know. Archleone can take on archangels and the like without really being too anxious because they have rules they absolutely have to obey or they could very well fall from grace. This very fact gives him a great deal of leverage. The knights of the cross also have rules to abide by or else their swords as well as themselves become vulnerable (just look at what happened to Karrin in Skin Game after Archleone surrendered). That is why is so utterly arrogant around them.

Harry: "Can't you give me a straight answer? Is there some law of the universe that compels you to be so freaking mysterious?" -Uriel: "Several, actually. All designed for your protection." –

However, with Mouse it seems that he is absolutely bound by nothing. If memory serves me, I believe he killed a previous owner of one of a coins of the blackened denarius. Knights of the cross are suppose to help save those people... Mouse just doesn't give a flying ****. Anyone messes with Harry, their asses are going to be bitten off... period.

  • 1
    A good point. Angels are “nice,” and the less principled characters can take advantage of that. Could you add some quotes to support that, though?
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:13
  • If I find them I will post them. Off the top of my head. 1. Harry talks to an angel of death about to take father foothill and tries to get her to help but apparently she doesn't have the freewill to do so and it seems as though she resents the crap out of Harry for under appreciating free will. 2. Skin game - Uriel is unable to fight Archleone and is unable to stop Michael from crossing the threshold of his house so he transfers over his grace. If Uriel and the angels guarding the house had no rules they would bring a word of hurt on Archleone which would be so much easier. -More to come
    – Chris Lai
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:42
  • The dresdenfiles wiki seems to be a good source but I'm having issues finding quotes... I do like this one from the wiki though. Harry: "Can't you give me a straight answer? Is there some law of the universe that compels you to be so freaking mysterious?" -Uriel: "Several, actually. All designed for your protection."
    – Chris Lai
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:48
  • Why not edit that into your answer? If you want, you can use the quote syntax for longer quotes by putting a > before a line.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:52
  • 2
    nitpick...Mouse killed Cassius, sure, but Cassius had his coin taken away a few years before the events of Dead Beat
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 21:09

It always seemed to me like Anduriel was the one recoiling from Mouse in that scene, and Nick was unsettled because of Anduriel's reaction. The thing that separates Mouse from Uriel, and Mab (and others) is that Mab WILL act in accordance to her nature, and Uriel WILL not choose to become a fallen. Anduriel (and Nick) know the rules for these encounters, and so it doesn't really matter how powerful these entities are - because Anduriel and Nick can play by their rules and have nothing to fear. Mouse on the other hand (in his own words) cheats. Anduriel isn't the 'strongest' of the Fallen. He's the smartest. His advantage is knowledge, intellect, and planning. To have to face something as strong as mouse (very likely less strong than Mab, or Uriel) is terrifying because either he doesn't know the rule, there are no rules and he knows it, or because he knows the rules, and can't gain an advantage.

This is making me think of another character written by Butcher in another series. In the Codex Alera there is a captain of a ship who at one point says (in reference to fair fights), "I avoid them at all cost. Never really saw the point in a fair fight". (I probably messed that quote up).


My guess? Nick sees Mouse as equal to them both (him and Anduriel) in one person. Or more precisely Anduriel sees true nature and power of Mouse and lets Nick know (same way Harry communicated with Lasciel's Shadow, probably). Thus definitely someone to be afraid of.

And what would that power be?

Uriel can act only in response to direct attack from supernatural or in attempt to balance the scales, if necessary on the cosmic level, if necessary.

Fallen can tempt and can lend some of their power to their hosts. But that sliver of power is so enormous it twists the minds of average human, leaving them in semi-control of the Fallen, who then can exert their will on the world they hate, but still in very limited way and always through willing human only.

But only Nicodemus can do whatever he wants. He is so frightening because he accumulated enormous experience and skillset without, seemingly, relying on Anduriel's powers. Including health plan, as because he's effectively immortal (via Judas' noose). Apparently he's doing excellent job being one all on his own... Tessa (IIRC) described Nick/Anduriel team as true partnership. Partnership implies equality... Did you notice Nick does not transform into monster at all?

Enter Mouse. Being a scion he has supernatural powers. Are those powers enough to challenge Anduriel? Is he Fallen's equal? Foo dogs depend on the proximity to source of it's power, and when we learn

which insufferable wisecrack wizard it is for Mouse,

possibly yes, he is. If he can

just some time later challenge one of the most powerful of the Sidhe after Queens (all six of them), Erlking and maybe Odin

and we know Winter's power

is so enormous she is able to challenge Outsiders showing en-masse,

I would say that Uriel's

acknowledgement of Mouse's status as his... fellow professional, even if not in same weight category, as mentioned in one of the answers,

to be sobering estimate.

But also being mortal, Mouse has much less rules to abide by, too.

...Or even less than that. He himself said so: I cheat.


I don't want to spoil things in case you haven't read the latter novels, but there is one that discusses Mouse. Against the overall story arch his nature is revealed. I found it a little disappointing, but it fit within Dresden's world.

  • I've read through the currently published novels (Skin Game being the latest). We learn pretty early on that Mouse is a Foo Dog, and at one point Bob tells Harry what he knows about Foo Dogs, but that would seem to make Mouse a relatively powerful guardian of a particular place, not an all-around heavyweight of the supernatural world. My question is more along the lines of why Mouse is the only thing in the series that seems to outright spook Nicodemus/Anduriel. The reaction is disproportionate to what Mouse appears to be and to the powers Bob ascribes to him.
    – Dana Maher
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 22:50
  • 8
    Sorcefyre, right now this answer is basically saying "I know the answer, but I'm not telling you". Could you maybe go ahead and post the spoiler, suitably marked up as such? (Precede each line with >! , I believe.)
    – Martha
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 0:10

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