A small rat got loose inside the PetCo store, on the side of which my wife works in a grooming salon. She bolted away and was impossible to catch, being a small, young, fast rat. She wound up living in the store for a number of weeks, hiding under shelves. This sounds cute and fantasy-ish, but it’s not. It was a terrifying, and scarring experience for the young female rat, and it was a literally scarring experience too, because when she was eventually recaptured, she was missing half of her long tail. We never knew what had pinched it off, or bit it off (since dogs are allowed into PetCo), but regardless, this was how she stood when she was recaptured: twitchy, terrified of everything, missing half a tail, and impossible to sell. She was damaged goods, after all.
So, they put her up for adoption, and that’s when my wife called me and told me the story, and we brought her home. No one else was going to take her. She was too mentally and physically damaged.
We named her Abby.
It took weeks and months of careful and patient work, as well as a steady place in a quiet room, our bedroom, to loosen her up. She would run in her wheel eventually, rush to take food from your hand, move cardboard boxes around, splash around in the massive water dish we got for her, because she liked to splash around. We couldn’t actually hand-feed her, because she was very skittish and posessive, and she would grab at the food so enthusiastically, she would sometimes bite your finger. Never maliciously, but I have a dented scar on my left index finger where she got me one night, when I was careless.
If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because on April 15th, 2007, on this very blog, I posted cat pictures and then introduced you all to Abby, the newest member of our household, in the first post called “Abby Road,”
The reason I went looking for the original post was, unfortunately, simple: Earlier this morning, Abby died. I was curious how long we’d had her.
The death of some pets are easier than others. When we had pet mice, or pet goldfish, I’m still saddened by their passing, but not as entirely. As cold as it sounds — and as wrong as it may be, perhaps — they don’t have the individual and unique personalities that certain other animals do, such as rats, cats, dogs, parrots. When our other rats passed away, it was heartbreaking.
I guess Abby’s was a little worse, because it was unexpected. She was lethargic last night, when I fed her and gave her fresh water, but I figured it was just because she’d just woken up. Now, I wonder what it was. She was never the healthiest rat, and we knew she would never live on and on like some of the others did. But still.
It’s a very poor way of solving the problem my wife and I were discussing, which was what to do with the bedroom wall, which had a rat cage, a fish tank, and Abby’s cage. The first cage and the fish tank are empty, the fish tank on purpose, the cage from the passing of our three-legged rat, Calcifer. It solved the problem, because now threw two big rat cages away and have only to take down the fish tank, and that wall shall be empty. I would rather it was still full of one small, skittish rat with only half a tail.