Missing My Squeakers
I'm 31 years old and had never owned a rat before. On Christmas day of 2012 I had finally had enough and left my long term boyfriend and moved out of our house. I got a small studio apartment and was feeling pretty lonely. I didn't think it would be fair to keep a dog or cat in such a small space so I started researching rats as I heard they were very affectionate and intelligent. I wasn't planning on bringing a rat home the February night I came across Squeakers at Petsmart as my research had told me to go to a breeder not a pet store. I was merely there to price supplies when I wandered by his cage. He was a BIG boy and had no cage mates, he looked lonely (just like me). I asked to see him and asked a little about him. The girl said he had been at the store for about 6 months and they had tried to give him cage mates but he just wasn't feeling it. I held him (which he was not fond of) and knew I had to take him home. His white fur was matted and sticky and stinky from urine and he just looked sad and there was no way I could leave him there. So I got the supplies and Squeakers and home we went. Over the next few days he really opened up! One of the doors of his 4 level cage opened right onto the sofa so whenever I was at home I would wheel his cage by the sofa and open the door so he could come and go as he pleased. He loved to sit on the sofa and groom himself and me. He was very good at keeping my nails and cuticles clean and well groomed. He loved being scratched behind his big dumbo ears and on the top of his head and when you scratched just the right spot he would wag his tail. I used to tell him he was my pocket Chihuahua. It was really neat to see his personality just blossom. Not long after I got him (and only within about a week and a half's time) a large tumor (about the size of an apricot) developed on his side. I found an exotics vet and we had it removed. He recovered well and continued to be his funny and mischievous self. Not long ago he discovered how to get off the sofa and go exploring. He never went far and always came when I called him. All I had to do was give him a block of food and he take it and run back into his cage. He was such a smart boy. Then, a week ago today he started squealing in pain as he was grooming. I checked him and couldn't see anything wrong.Monday morning we went to the vet and she thought he might have bladder stones or a uti. She put him on antibiotics and pain meds and we scheduled a re-check in 14 days. Tuesday night as we were chilling on the sofa I noticed he was bleeding. I picked him up and he was bleeding significantly from his "gentleman's region". I sat him in the tub and over the span of about 2 hours he passed 3 large blood clots. After the 3rd clot came out the bleeding stopped and he was actually acting much better. Almost like he hadn't been sick the past few days. I spoke to the vet Wednesday morning and she said since he was acting better to watch him and continue his meds. Wednesday night he wasn't eating much or being real active but he would take treats and water when offered by hand and didn't seem to be in pain. This continued on until Friday. But Friday he wouldn't take any food or water. I took the day off and got a vet appointment for 4:30. We spent the day cuddling on the couch. I have him pets and kisses and sang "you are my sunshine" to him. By mid afternoon his breathing was not looking too good and not long before the vet appointment it looked like he couldn't move his hind legs well. We made it to the vet's office and I was cuddling him in his blanket in the waiting room when the nurse came out to take some notes. I uncovered him so she could see and that's when I noticed his little back feet and tummy were turning purple from lack of oxygen. Right then and there I knew I had to let him go. The nurse rushed us into a room, and the rest is history. I held him, I talked to him, I kissed him and sang "you are my sunshine" to him one last time. I miss him so much it's unbelievable. I hate looking at the corner where his cage was. He gave me something to look forward to coming home to every night, he made me laugh and smile, he was my tv and movie buddy and I could tell him anything and everything and he wouldn't judge. And now he's not there. I only had him for a short time but he truly was my sunshine during some of my darkest days. I have lost other pets over the years but this one has hit me particularly hard. I have an overwhelming guilt, not for ending his suffering (that was the right thing to do) but my guilt is for not having his body or ashes returned to me. I feel like I abandoned him there. But I don't have a yard to bury him and keeping his ashes in an urn on a shelf just seems weird because I know he's not there...he's at Rainbow Bridge. I set up a little area for him with my favorite picture of him in a nice frame and his chew stick that he had been working on and a candle that I light in his memory. Still the guilt and the sadness consume me. I miss my sweet Squeakers, my sunshine so bad.