by Stephanie Cameron
Stephanie Cameron is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring a column from Rattie Ratz.
This month I wanted to share a bittersweet adoption story. Many people who have to give up their animals do so, not because they want to, but because they have no choice. I am incredibly thankful for organizations like Rattie Ratz Rescue, whose mission is to help pet rats in need by providing a safe space for families to surrender their rats when they can no longer care for them.
At Rattie Ratz we strive to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome domestic pet rats, giving their original owners comfort in knowing their beloved pets will be well looked after and will be given a second chance at a loving family, even if that family cannot be them. I love being a volunteer with this rescue organization and seeing both the thankfulness of our surrendering owners, and the joy of our adopters.
Abby was the proud mama of two rattie boys named Pecan and Gumbo, whom she got when they were babies and spoiled them unconditionally. Unfortunately, Abby has some pretty serious health concerns that required significant surgery. After waking up from her most recent surgery this past June she was told by her surgeon that the rats posed too great of a risk, as any small infection Abby got could be detrimental to her health, so the boys would have to go.
With a heavy heart Abby’s family reached out to Rattie Ratz asking for help and when I heard about Abby’s situation my heart broke. I couldn’t even imagine what she must be going through. To endure a serious surgery in the middle of a pandemic is difficult enough but being told you have to give up your beloved pets, without even being able to say goodbye, would have been devastating.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Abby and her boys. I wanted to make sure that the boys would go to an adopter who would be open to sending Abby all of the updates she deserved. While this isn’t the first-time previous owners have asked for occasional updates from the rat’s new family, it’s at the discretion of the new family if they want to comply.
I realized there was no way to guarantee Abby would get her updates if the boys were adopted by someone else, so I decided to adopt them myself. At the time I had 10 rats of my own, six of which were seniors and the other four middle aged. I thought it was about time to add some young blood, so why not?!
It was obvious the boys were well loved and looked after. They had luscious coats and they were confident and well-adjusted. They arrived with all of their toys, and favorite floral hammock. Abby shared videos with me of Pecan diving for peas with his little paws in the water, and Gumbo playing and wrestling with her hands, hopping away just so he can turn around and come back for round two. I knew these boys were special and seeing how much Abby loved them made me love them even more.When Abby returned home from the hospital, I knew it would be difficult for her to see the empty spot where her boys used to be, so Pecan, Gumbo and I put together a little get- well-card for her. Poor Pecan was my tester rat and we spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom trying to figure out how to get the best prints using water based non-toxic paint. Pecan was not happy with me and even more upset when he had to have a bath afterwards. But his brother Gumbo appreciated Pecan’s sacrifice, and in the end, we were able to successfully send a card to Abby signed by all three of us. I’m told that card is now framed and hangs on the wall where their cage used to be!
I do my best to share both the sweet and the mundane with Abby. From the sneaky looks Pecan gives me from the cage when I’m lying in bed – I’m pretty sure he was testing his spy skills – to Gumbo peering at me through the bars of the cage as soon as I get home from work. Yes, he got a cookie out of me, just as he planned! Their first taste of watermelon, the boys playing in their mini dig box and the not so secret food stash that Gumbo worked so hard to hide.
Pecan is the gentle soul who just wants to give kisses and receive pets. Gumbo is the wild child, a connoisseur of all things food and a master food stasher. The boys are beautifully inquisitive, playful and self-assured. Like any siblings, sometimes I find them cuddled together in the hammock and other times I have to put them in time out for fighting. Gumbo was already neutered because of their fighting.
I love these boys, but the fact that they are with me is bittersweet, because I know there is someone else out there who loves these boys very much, but will never be able to watch over them the way I am able to. As far as I’m concerned Pecan and Gumbo will always have two moms. Rattie Ratz Rescue may have given Pecan and Gumbo a second chance, but after meeting Abby and her boys I know that the truly lucky one was me.
If you would like to know more about Rattie Ratz Rescue you can visit their Facebook page. If you are interested in adoptable rats or volunteering for Rattie Ratz Rescue you can visit their website: www.rattieratz.com.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Rattie Ratz every other month. You can also keep up with our pet articles by joining our KRL Facebook group. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.