I have lost three pets in an approximately six month time span. First it was Mariella, then my cat of 18ish years, Dorothy, died a few weeks ago, and now McFly. I miss him the most.
Pathetic though it may be, I bought him in a sort of lonely period in my life. I suppose in place of human friendship I sought animal companionship. Not really, but a little. Don't dwell on that.
It wasn't exactly an impulse - I spent a good month contemplating the purchase of my rat. And then bought him as a birthday present to me.
|(McFly was from PetSmart, before I really knew about animal rescues)|
When I first got McFly, I was living with a couple of girls who were animal whisperers. Whenever I brought him out to "play", he ran from me like I was the grim reaper, but he was always somewhat subdued around them. One time he actually fell asleep in S.'s arms [right after peeing on me]. It was a very precious scene, if you cropped out the part where I was sitting nearby looking bitter and pouting.
However, when he woke up, he heard a loud thump. He ran his speedy little self across the couch and cowered by me. S. cooed, "Aww, you're his anchor!" She explained an anchor is the person he clings to when he's scared or afraid.
Well, cool. I was his anchor.
That did not stop him from being downright obnoxious. Our first year together was, at times, rocky. At one point he escaped from his cage and hid in the box springs of my bed - what followed was an hour of cursing, squeaking, and rat wrestling, and then days of paranoia about whether or not he would hate me forever. Then there was the day he up and bit me my chin all the way to the bone. Rough.
|over the past two years, mcFly and i have done lots of studying together|
But at some point I think he adjusted to the fact that he was stuck with me. Especially after Mariella died, he and I developed a sort of rhythm. He learned to quit peeing on me, and I learned that when he sat in a certain spot, he wanted to be picked up.
During his sickness he became extremely clingy. He wanted me to hold him all of the time. If I left the room, the rat who barely moved would rotate so that he was facing the door. He would rest gently and actually fall asleep in my arms. McFly was sick, tired, and every breath exhausted him. And in his pain and what I think might have been a little bit of fear, he clung to me.
I was his anchor.
|just a day or two ago|
Making this decision was agonizing. I hated all the factors that weighed in - expense, time, convenience, McFly's suffering. And then my job. Next week I start travelling on a regular basis - at the least, four days a week.
If I were still in college, I think I would push him through those treatments. And I would fight the good fight with him. But that isn't really an option, now that my job is starting. While I was on the road, he would go through a series of stressful treatments with someone else pushing the buttons.
I felt the most merciful thing, then, would be to put him down. I was the only person he liked, and not being there while he went through all of that seemed cruel.
I took him to the vet yesterday. A dear friend drove me there and held my hand the entire time. The staff and vet were so kind. Dr. L answered all my questions before I could even ask them. And she assured me I was making a good decision - which is what I think I needed to hear most. I don't know that there is any way to make this situation comfortable, but they made it much more bearable. [If you have an exotic in North Carolina, check them out].
Anyways, his death was quick. A brief injection, a squeak, and then I held him as his eyes glazed over.
I came home to the empty cage and untouched food and the rumpled blanket where we spent our last day together cuddled up. Today I worked up the courage to clean it all.
This has been the hardest loss of all my pets. McFly and I were, to quote today's youths, tight. I am so grateful for a pet that actually loved me. Trust me - animals that like me for more than a belly rub are few and far between. I'm also grateful that he died on our terms - without too much suffering, quickly and quietly.
|compliments of my little sister|
Anchors aweigh, little man.
I think I'll be off pets for a while.
PS. I feel it needs to be said, somewhere on the interWebs, that a sweet pet rat is so much cuter than a Corgi.