I’ve been trying to screw up the courage to write this post for a few days now. This past Saturday afternoon, our best beloved Rattie, Lola, passed away in my arms. Lola was about 2 years, 3 1/2 months old.
As we sat ready to eat our Saturday breakfast (which is around 1 p.m. for us), Gryphon noticed that she was lying in the nest box, gasping for breath. He gently removed her from the cage and handed her to me.
Lola was struggling for air, but seemed glad of the comfort. Her breathing troubles waxed and waned over the next two hours. At intervals she would scramble to drag herself to another spot, as if hoping to escape the pain and discomfort. She was so weak, she couldn’t raise her body and stand.
Finally, a few minutes after 4 p.m., she had a few spasms that appeared to be a final seizure. Her little fists clenched and pawed at her face as if washing it. Then, lying on her side on my chest, with my hands covering her, she went still.
I cried. I have cried at least once every day since. I see her face all around me.
We have lost other rats before. We loved every one of them, and each loss hurt.
But not like this one. Lola was special. Both Gryphon and I feel like we’ve lost a soul mate.
She came to us originally in mid July of 2007. We found her at a local PetCo, a surrendered rat hoping to be adopted. They claimed she was five months old at the time. It may have been true – she was less than full size, but no longer a baby. We ultimately decided to approximate her birthday as February 18, 2007.
The most astonishing thing was that she kept jumping out of the tank she was kept in, to climb onto my shoulder, then jump back down and repeat the process. Over and over again. Clearly, she didn’t want us to leave her.
So we didn’t.
Lola’s First Picture, July 21, 2007
We brought her home, a spunky young teenager, to live with our aging girls Star and Sable. Star had clear health issues – a growing tumor, and a history of seizures and possibly even strokes. Sable was getting up there, but still functioning well.
First Morning Together:
Lola draped over Star below, Sable in the hammock above. July 28, 2007
Star succumbed to her health problems on August 14. By then, Lola was able to keep Sable company. Their companionship kept Sable going until January, at which point the older girl passed away in our arms from respiratory failure.
Lola became very depressed. We don’t know how long she may have been without rattie companionship before we adopted her, but she had come to love Sable, and she missed her big sister. Anxious to ease her loneliness, I got in touch with Mainely Rat Rescue. We adopted a pair of neutered boys, Yuri and Leonardo, a week after losing Sable.
First Meeting with the New Boys, 01/29/08
Lola had, from the start, been friendly, affectionate, and cuddly. Her personality had shown through at all ages, from her days as a bratty teenager picking on the old girls Star and Sable, to the flirty girl getting to know the boys we brought home for her. She became a protective mother figure when new girls were added – while still making sure they understood she wasn’t just a mother, she was The Queen Mother, thankyouverymuch.
Since the start of 2009, Lola had started showing her age. She slowed down. She asked for more cuddles, spending up to an hour at a time just snoozing in my arms. She took on the role of curmudgeonly old woman, becoming more annoyed at the young whippersnappers she shared a cage with.
In her most shining display of her true nature, when we tried to introduce Marbles into the colony cage, Lola turned out to be the only rat who accepted him. Every other one attacked him at every opportunity, but Lola slept with him, sometimes fended off his attackers, and kept him company when no others would.
A short time later, we noticed a bulge starting to develop on Lola’s chest. Female rats are prone to mammary tumors, and at Lola’s age, surgery would be both costly and risky. So long as she had a reasonable quality of life, it was best just to help her live with it. She didn’t seem impaired, but did lose some weight and slowed down even more.
The end finally came on Saturday, as I gave her what comfort I could, and told her if she had to leave it was okay, that we didn’t want her to suffer. I believe she went fairly peacefully. I hope she did.
She was Lola. She was our love.
She was a Clown:
Lola and Lily, March 2009
A seeker of love:
And a lover of yarn:
She was our best friend, and sometimes a very nice neckwarmer:
Gryphon and Lola, together.
Rest peacefully and well, our dear friend. You will always be in our hearts.
Lola’s Last Picture, March 5, 2009
Feb. 18, 2007 – May 30, 2009