I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with my normal posts on this blog, but I truly believe pets complete a family, and a home. And today Joe & I lost our first pet.
Two years ago, not long after we first moved in together, we decided we wanted some pet rats. I have wanted rats for years but because we’d had every animal under the sun as a child, my mum had said “If you want any more pets, you should wait until you move out”. So I did.
I know for many this sounds ridiculous, but to clarify, pet rats are a different species than the rats you find as pests in abandoned warehouses and feasting in the city alleyways. Fancy rats are some of the cleanest animals you can own and really, all they want in life is some fresh veggies to nibble on and a good cuddle.
(I’m not trying to convert the world into getting a pet rat. They’re not for everyone. For example, I am scared of rabbits. Not sure why. But they just don’t float my boat. I just don’t like the stereotype that rats are ‘disgusting, filthy animals’)
We spotted a grey dumbo rat in the pet store in April 2010 – about 10 weeks old. (Dumbo rats have larger ears than normal fancy rats. Adorable.) She was absolutely tiny and we knew we wanted her straight away. We told the spotty teenager on shift to box her up; we wanted to make her ours.
He did as he was told and then a few minutes later said: “Do you want both grey ones?” “I thought there was only one?” said Joe. She had already eaten her way out of the box and gone back to play with her sisters. Her cheekiness and love for nibbling boxes/furniture started early. I’ll never forget that. We went on to take home two more, the ones she was playing with.
We named her Jean-Grey. Yes, after the X-Men character. We nicknamed her Jeany.
In the past two months or so, she lost almost all of her weight, and could only walk around in circles. We believe it was a brain tumour (they are really common in rats). She could only eat if we hand fed her, but generally speaking, she was still in good spirits and still loved her spinach, sweetcorn, and cuddles in my dressing gown.
I know that we gave her a great life and we’ll continue to do so with her two sisters. But two years with her just wasn’t long enough.