Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Foster Updates, Part One

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 10:34 pm on Friday, June 26, 2009

I know, I know – I’ve been too long without posting. It’s been kind of a rough time here, and very busy as well.

Since last I posted, we’ve had 10 foster girls come and go that you haven’t even heard about! There were the Mystery Girls: Sookie Stackhouse, Stephanie Plum, KoKo, and Sneaky Pie. There was the fizzy 4-pack that we called the Soda Pop Girls – Moxie, Fanta, Faygo, and Shasta.

Net-Net and Missy

Then there was a very special pair, older girls Net-Net and Missy. Yes, that’s the same Net-Net who, with her litter of babies, was my very first foster case. The one who bit me five times, sending me to the emergency room once.

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Net-Net Gets Cozy

Net-Net’s owner reached a point where she had significant changes in her life that made it impossible to give her rats the care they deserved. So she surrendered them all to Mainely Rat Rescue. Since I’d had Net-Net before, it made sense for her to come back. I was promised she wasn’t a biter, now that she didn’t have babies.

Not entirely true. Net-Net and Missy both made attempts at biting Gryphon right away. Me – well, with me they were what I came to call toothy, but not biting. I could pick them up (Gryphon couldn’t), and handle them, and even take them in on my bed to romp under the blankets. And all I ever got was a Tooth Touch to the arm, hand, even the nose or chin – a gentle touching of the teeth to a body part, not a bite.

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Missy Explores 

The Tooth Touch sometimes became a Slow Bite. Not an aggressive motion, but a slow and considered one. I took the Tooth Touch and the Slow Bite both to mean they were trying to communicate, not express anger or fear.

The Slow Bite is a case of a Tooth Touch that doesn’t know it’s own strength. If you are quick enough, you can pull away from them. I was slow one night, and Missy actually broke the skin on my ear. Ouch!

So, here we were with a pair of older girls (over 18 months, elderly for a rat), with a temperament issue. And in addition to that, they both developed tumors. What was intended to be foster care in contemplation of finding an adoptive home, became hospice care. Net-Net’s tumor grew rapidly, and it was the ever-increasing size of her lump that set the deciding point for the next phase.

We parted company with Net-Net and Missy last week, sending them on their final journey to the top people at MRR. The head honcho herself is a certified euthanasia technician, so I can rest assured that they were handled gently, with great care and respect.

Net-Net will always hold a special place in my heart. She was the rat who got me started on this path to greater involvement with Mainely Rat Rescue. On her first visit, she instilled in me a great fear of being bitten by aggressive rats. On her last stay, I came to understand her behavior better, to see the toothiness for what I believe it really is – an attempt by an intelligent rat to communicate with the living beings who provide her daily care.

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Net-Net and Missy, as cuddly as they ever got

In the end, Net-Net, Missy, and I developed a mutual respect, and dare I say, even a friendship, for each other. I think they knew that in their final home, they were loved and cared for as their own cantankerous selves.

Next time: The Mystery Girls!

2 Comments

Comment by Valerie in San Diego

June 26, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

Sometimes the greatest love we can give a companion animal is a peaceful life and death. And it sounds like you both learned from each other. Value in all those lives.

Big hugs though – never easy to say goodbye to animals. 🙁

Comment by Carol

June 26, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

That’s totally bittersweet. I don’t know what else to say.

My Raven kitty bites. Sort of. It’s more like the tooth touch you describe. on me anyway. He’ll grab my hand and pretend to bite. Once his teeth touch my skin, he switches to licks. He still bites the hubby, but I say that’s cause the hubby roughhouses with the kitty and gets him all riled up. With his hand. I’ll use a pencil or something. so the pen gets bit. Not me.

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