Growing Old Together

by Danielle
(New York, USA)

This was when my rats, Hootie and Stevie were about 2 1/2 (They died at 3.) They we’re snuggling together as “brothers.”

Hootie is the black hooded and Stevie is the dove hooded. 😛

I got Hootie for my birthday was I was 8 in 2005, on March 26th. I named him Hootie as a cute throw-off of “hooded.” I was so excited all I could do all day was research and learn new things about rats and how I could make them happy. I had him for.. approximately 2 weeks, before I learned that rats are better off with a buddy. And so I went to the store…
When the lady at the pet store pulled the tank off the shelf, all the babies looked IDENTICAL. However, one rat stood out from the others- the one reaching up to sniff me, instead of cowering in the corner. That was the one.
At first, I wanted to name him Bandit. But my mom thought it was horrid and we kept thinking all day. Late that night, as we were watching the two, the new addition spotted us, and started swaying his head back and forth. Later, of course, we learned it helped him to focus, but at the time, my mom thought it was hilarious and reminded her of Stevie Wonder when he played the piano. And from then on the little hooded was called Stevie.
However, exactly 3 years after I got him, Hootie died on my birthday, March 26th. The previous night he was having difficulty breathing, but it was too late and no vets’ offices were open. Immediately the next morning, my mother made the appointment, but it was too late… Hootie died in my arms halfway to the office. However, we had brought Stevie along, too, and he had dropped a bit of weight in the past month, and had a little black tumor-like growth in the corner of his eye.. So we continued on, tears or not. We already lost one boy, maybe we could save the next. The vet took a look at Hootie, diagnosing cardiac arrest, and then looked at Stevie and gave us a bit of medicine and a dropper.
Two days later, we lost Stevie. He was so upset with the loss of his “brother,” he starved himself for 2 days, and then a blood vessel blew in his head and he died.
As sad as I was the next couple weeks, I was so thankful that they had both died in my arms. That they died as comfortable as possible, that I didn’t come home to a shocking sight. The years between 2005 and 2008 were some of the best, and I’m so happy to think back that they were so happy, too. I went nearly 2 years with just my cat, and then we took in a bird from a family member because she had no time for him. The day that I was blessed with Mikey, our beloved peach front conure, was September 21st, 2009. But now, sitting here today on July 9th, 2012, I can say happily that I get to have more rats before the end of August. The plan is that, after our vacation between the 14th and the 28th of July, we get to set up a 10-gallon tank that just recently held fish… And add our old tank topper, the old water container, the old snack dish…
And soon welcome (hopefully) a blue dumbo, who I want to name Petey, and a black dumbo, who I want to name Ratchet.
I also want to add, that as a kid my mom had every pet you can think of: monkeys, skunks, raccoons, a mountain goat, birds, dogs, cats, etc. But to this day, she says that out of all the animals she ever owned, the rats were by far the best.
My memories keep running through my head as I type, and I remember coming home from school every day, squeezing my lips together and sucking air in to create a high-pitch squealing sound that would make the rats get all excited and alert them that I was home. They would grasp the bars at the very top level of their topper, and shift back and forth, trying to push their noses through. We used to say that they looked like little jailers. They would practically jump onto me when I opened the top, and snuggle up to my face and lick my chin in hopes for kisses. Their little tongues felt like velvet. In another time, I remember that Hootie fell asleep half way inside a little opening in his house. His front side was in, his back side out, and he was sleeping as soundly as ever… I know that they can never be replaced, but I hope to gain new memories with Petey and Ratchet.
Even as a one-time rat owner (at least at the moment) the rats were very easy to raise to be great pets and make everlasting memories with. That is why, to this day and beyond, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest rats as pets…
(Thank you for reading all the way through if you did.)
-Dani (15)

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