Ruby was the second rat I ever got. The first was a rescue, Phillip, and in my new rat mama ignorance I decided to buy him a girlfriend. She was one of 5 ruby eyed whites at the pet store, but somehow I managed to find the perfect one.
She was the proud mama of my five other ratties, and when Phillip died she was the one who cuddled with me on the couch and snuggled into my hoodie sleeves. M dainty little Ruby never left her cage to play without licking my fingers first. She took treats as delicately as a Southern belle. When we brought home our newest baby, Leiland, and he was having trouble adjusting to the other boys, we let him play with Ruby. She was 2.5 years old, and too old to have babies, but she immediately took him in as her own.
Around this same time, she developed a mammary tumor, which over the course of several months grew to the size of a golf ball. She went blind, and then deaf, and started to have moments where she forgot where she was or who was touching her. I held off on putting her to sleep. She seemed to be okay still; she just needed a little help. Her last few days she could barely move. We sat together all day on the couch. The last movie we ever watched together was Charlotte’s Web. And then the next morning I woke up and the light in her eyes was gone. Her body was still alive, but what made my Ruby who she was was gone. So we cuddled on the couch together one last time, and when she began to convulse I knew it was time. I put her to sleep myself.
I still have a piece of her, all of her babies who are still happy and healthy, but no one could ever replace her. She held a special place in my heart I can’t imagine ever being filled again.