4/20/2015

(P)ets

My family had the pleasure of having many pets over the years.

When I was born, my mom already had a black/white tuxedo cat named Cato, a female german shephard named Bonnie, and a male german shephard named Bruzer (true story). These pet friends were inseparable; Bruzer used to pick Cato up by the head in his mouth and love on her; Bonnie was Bruzer's life companion. Cato had really bad allergies that kept her from being healthy when I was a kid, and she eventually passed away; she hid under a shelf in our garage and died - we found her covered in maggots. Bruzer had heart worms, and mom decided to say goodbye to the both of them, having them put down because we couldn't afford the medications.

We had a puppy named Fluffy for a little bit; I'm not sure where we even got him. Fluffy got ticks really, really bad. Mom did everything she could - tick baths, etc, but he didn't get better. He died in the middle of the night as mom was preparing to take him to the emergency vet - we buried him in our back yard and dad had to dig him up again and move his body because he was buried too close to the house and it made our bathroom stink.

Then there were the guinea pigs. I had my favorite orange and black one, Spooky, and Rachel had Goldie, an orange and white one. Both females mated with our males, Chocolate - a black one - and Fuzzy - a long-haired grey one; their babies came out really awesome, and we gave them to our horseback riding teacher at the time. The guineas used to squeak in their guinea pig way when we brought in grocery store bags, assuming that we had a carrot treat for them - we most often than not did. We had an enclosure on the side of the house that we took them outside and let them play in under close supervision. Goldie one died and Goldie Two was brought home to replace her. When Spooky died during childbirth, after months of mom badgering us to get rid of them, I agreed to give the remaining guinea pigs to our horseback riding teacher. I hope Fuzzy had a good rest of his life.

I wish I had pictures of the cats, dogs, and piggies; we may have some long burried one of the first three pets, but any guinea pig pictures that were taken were on my Carmen San Diego camera that I never got back from the printers.

After the guinea pigs, we were petless for awhile. Suddenly, a year or so later, it was decided that we needed a pet. We went to the animal shelter to find one. Rachel went into a room with cats that were older, and found one that was due to be put down within a short amount of time because she was returned twice. That's how we found Tigger. We took SO MANY pictures of miss Tigger whenever we brought her home; most are print outs and not digital. She would climb into our pet nets, lay on coffee tables, and would play in the most adorable way. She's only ever gotten really sick once a year ago, and the vet was able to make her better. I'm proud to report that she's been with us for... ten or eleven years now, still alive and kicking, feisty as ever.

We had a boxer for a week once; she was too nervous and tore up our living room so we had to rehome her.

One day, on the way home from school, Rachel found a little yellow tabby cat in a lady's engine. She brought it home, and for awhile we couldn't tell if it was male or female. I wanted a turn in naming a pet, so I picked the name Sandy. Mom was nice enough to let us keep him. He's a sweet boy but sprays everything since his spay/neuter wasn't done correctly. We let him come in to eat, then let him back out once he starts yelling at us.

A couple of years later, this cat was walking up and down our street. The neighbors were feeding her, but not actually bringing her into their homes. Mom, Rachel and I fell in love with her. Rachel's friend at the time was here when mom decided, after having a stern talking to with the neighbors about whose cat she would be if mom took her to the vet and got her the shots etc, that we should name her Kitty Kitty. Kitty Kitty is a gentle cat unless you sniff her and make weird noises at her. She is easy going and allows us to mess with her, as shown above, and could really care less what we do to her; she trusts us to love and protect her, and we would never betray that. She sleeps with me most nights and is my little sidekick.

A year or so after that, our neighbor brought a tiny black kitten over. This baby boy fit in the palm of our hands, and had a chain bolted around his neck as a collar. Rachel lied and told mom that she would look for his home, but had no intention - who could blame her? We managed to get the collar off and had him with us ever since. This baby kitten took to Sandy quite well; they were the best of buddies from kittenhood on. All of the cats loved him, even Kitty Kitty, who hates Sandy and rarely tolerates Tigger. We decided to name him Fang, since he bit a lot and attacked toes, and he grew up to be quite the handsome cat.

For awhile, our living room looked like this - a room with cats sprawled on random pieces of furniture.

Last year, two weeks before Thanksgiving, Rachel called him in and, as he was crossing the street, a car hit him. His pelvic bone was broken, but he was otherwise okay. We tried our best to nurse him back to health; Rachel was with him day and night - I payed for vet bills and whatever treatments were necessary. I went away to celebrate Thanksgiving with James's family, and that night Fang died. His loss is still felt by us; as the youngest we expected him to live much longer, but time played us for fools.

A couple of years ago, Rachel's friend asked her if she wanted to take a rescued corn snake off of her friend's hands. Rachel immediately said yes - see the trend here? - and we got him a terrerium and lamps and food. My ex and I even got her a few things to put in it for her birthday. Pinkie the albino corn snake has lived with us since, content to shed and grow and eat frozen mice in his large habitat.

Last year, a neighbor across the street had this rat that she needed someone to take. Rachel and I went over to look at the rat, and I fell in love despite the fact that we never ever had a rat before. I couldn't begin to know what to do with it, but here she was - this ten month old rat in a tiny bird cage with soiled bedding. I picked her up so that we could change the bedding, and she bit me that first day; my friend had to wrestle her into a shoebox from the floor so that we could keep her safe. This little rat came to be known as Honey Badger, or 'Honey' for short.

She was by herself until Rachel was able to socialize her, spending hours a day talking and singing and cooing to her trying to get this poor rat into a more healthy mind set. We eeped at her every time she bit us to get her to understand that we are part of her rat pack. We were so excited when Honey let us pick her up without biting!

Honey is super old in rat years now and has a massive tumor that makes up most of her body mass, and a second one that just keeps growing. We know that we need to put her down soon, but we just can't bring ourselves to.

Once Honey was socialized, we were able to get her some friends. We went to PetoRama and looked at rats. James and I fell in love with a black rat that we named Soot Spirit, 'Spirit' for short, who was essentially James's rat. Spirit and Honey were cage mates since the day we brought her home, and they got along pretty well despite Spirit being kind of a bully sometimes. She chewed on everything (we have the PS3 controllers and remote control to prove it) and tried to get to the human food if we ate anywhere near her.

For some reason or another, Spirit got really, really sick. Honey was constantly medicated so that kept Spirit alive longer, but we could tell that she was drifting away. I planned to take her to the vet, but she died a couple of days before I was able while I watched her spirit slip from her body in a hopeless moment of panic. We put her in a sealed tightly popcorn box and buried her in my back yard, below Rachel's window.

On the same day we brought Spirit home, we picked up Angel, the white, beige hooded Dumbo rat that Rachel absolutely fell in love with despite the fact that she was the sickest one of the bunch. If I'm being honest, I fell in love iwth her, too.

Angel is Rachel's pride a joy, the rat that she nursed back to health from the brink of death; the poor dear had overgrown teeth that led to starvation, and an ear infection that needed treatment. She is still with us, though she also has a tumor that keeps growing and will not get any better. Surgery is not really an option for us - most rats do not survive the surgery even if their owners have the money. For now, we have this beautiful little darling, and she blesses us every day with her presence.

Since we had three rats sharing a cage, we bought a second cage that led to Angel being by herself a lot of the time. I saw a rat that I fell in love with on the day that I bought the second cage, and upon having to return said cage and exchange it for another one, I snatched this baby up.

I named her Lightning before we even made it out of Petsmart. She instantly got along with Angel. She was fearless and would climb the roof of her cage, upside down, from one side to the other. She jumped like nobody's business, from perilous heights. She died last year due to an ear infection that got out of control; the lightning bolt that went down her nose made it look like she was perfectly fine even though she had a head tilt that indicated an ear infection. On top of that, she had an eye injury inflicted by Angel, who started picking on Lightning once she realized that she was sick. I payed $25 for the vet to kill our rat, after doing everything humanly possible for her. On the way to the vet, Lightning jumped around for us one last time even though she was absolutely miserable and was to the point of denying food and water. She was truly something else, and I will not forget her.

The most recent pet that I brought home was another white rat, this one a Fancy. Honey was left without a cage mate when Spirit passed, so I thought I would get her one. The problem was... PetoRama, the place where I got an adult rat before, shut down, and everyone in our area only had rats that were three months old as opposed to ten months old. We snatched this one up right away - she was too adorable not to. When I bought her, I told Rachel her name was either Rose or Lily - Rachel wanted to know what about her reminded me of a flower. We picked Lily. Poor Lily fell off the bed the first night that we had her home while we were cleaning the cages - a few minutes later we managed to locate her under the bed and caught her. We tried sticking her with Honey at first, but Honey was not very nice since she was not accustomed to a baby rat in the cage, so we put her with Angel and Lightning, while she was still alive. Eventually we were able to move Lilly in with Honey, but after Lightning passed she has been shuffled from one cage to the other, obviously preferring Angel's cage but loving on Honey and snuggling with her just the same. She is a sweet, shy girl, easily startled and prone to scampering away and hiding at sudden movements. She lets us pick her up and hold her on her back, something that the other rats have never become used to; this will help when we need to trim her nails or look at her belly or something of that nature. I am glad that we were able to bring her home.

Here's what our bed looks like occasionally during cleaning times - This is an older picture, from when Spirit and Lightning were still with us, but it does convey the general idea.

I know we are going to lose Honey and Angel soon; when that happens I hope to get another rat for Lily as a companion, so that she can live the rest of her ratty days with a friend.

This concludes our pet adventures for now. Tune in later in my life when we are able to get another rat and perhaps a dog. Or a bird, as Rachel would love to have.

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