How Hemingway Rescued Me

I moved to college 500 miles away from my home town, knowing no one when I got there. I made friends but felt still disconnected from the places and people I was with. In my dorm hall a girl had bought two fancy rats over Christmas break and brought them back with her. Through a friend I found out she was horribly abusing the poor little critters, feeding them alcohol, never cleaning their cages, pulling tails, and ultimately planning to kill them by releasing them. I, never having had a rat or ever thinking of having one, could not stand this thought and went to visit the little guys. After little pushing on my part she allowed me to take the one and my friend the other. After a re-naming, Oreo to now Hemingway, I had a shy and very sad little ratty living in my dorm. We spent many a day staring at each other trying to figure out what to do with one another. I tried hard to woo him over with treats and toys, and eventually he came around and became very affectionate to momma and most of my friends, to the strangers he was polite and humored them with cute tricks and little licks for kisses. I quickly became “rat girl” on campus and was happy with the positive reaction to Hems, how quickly everyone else seemed to melt around him, and to my many new found friendships. Hemi changed so many people’s horrible views of rats in his travels from home in Pennsylvania, New Jersey for vacation, and back to South Carolina for school, eventually everyone knew Hem and he’d found a special little place in their hearts. We celebrated big time for birthdays and holidays wearing sock sweaters and little hats to humor mom for christmas card photos. Hemi and I shared every aspect of life, eating, napping, and traveling together. Unfortunately shortly after Hemi’s 2nd birthday, just under 2 years of me having taken him in, he took a turn for the worse with his health. Quickly developing a bad respiratory virus, blindness, and a decline in motor function within a weekend, my sweet baby boy was beyond help after multiple vet visits. In our last visit I chose to have Hemingway euthanized, which I know was the best choice for him and myself, watching him suffer was worse. Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, but most definately what he needed. He now is buried at home in PA, under my favorite tree in a hand painted box filled with his favorite hammock and treats. I never thought that I could develop such a connection with any living creature, human or non, but most definately never thought I’d find it in a rat. Hemingway taught me what unconditional love really means and that receiving it from another being is probably the best feeling in the world. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss everything about the little guy, from singing the good morning song everyday to yelling at him for tearing up newspaper at night. Hemingway made my college experience a million times better than it ever could have been and made me a rat lover for life. Love you to the moon & back Heminems.

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