Monday, August 9, 2010
Back when we were in college (as my Merky friends would say), Ron and I had a rat called "Wimpy." She was a white and tan dumbo with brown eyes. She was a bit portly and had dermatitis, but was a very pleasant rat. When we adopted her from the shelter we stuck her in the cage of the rat next to her (this was a VERY bad idea) to see if she was friendly. We also had Amy (the best rat ever, who LOVED me and slept on me for 2 years) and Coco (who seemed a bit lonesome because Amy was always with me), and wanted a new rat who could be bf's with Coco. Anyhow, Wimpy and the other shelter rat immediately went at it and blood was flying. I stuck my hand in and separated them (yet another brilliant idea). Since Wimpy was so nice and tame and friendly, we presumed that other rat was a real jerk, and that Wimpy was just a wimp, hence the name. Poor thing, her SPCA papers just said "not wanted anymore."
So Wimpy came home and we set up an introduction between Wimpy and Coco. Neutral territory, supervised, lots of treats and escape routes. In two seconds flat, Wimpy went for Coco's jugular, which immediately began spurting blood. I had to hold the wound with firm pressure for like 15 minutes. Poor Coco. Wimpy was not a wimp at all, but a great big rat bully. So now, we had a rat that loved people, a rat that needed a rat friend, and a rat that HATED rats. Go figure.
Anyhow, we worked it out... I rigged up a complicated series of ferret cages and a schedule of which rat got to be free-roaming at what time (except for Amy, who had special privileges). When Coco was roaming, she would sit on the other side of the bars from Wimpy (who would bite her toes). When Wimpy was free roaming, she would pee on Coco through the bars and then go about her apartment inspecting business.
One day when I came home Wimpy was all curled up in a piece of a sweatshirt that she loved, dead. Now I had been working at both the Animal Care Unit and the Zooarchaeology Lab at UVic, and had taken to putting carcases in my freezer, as one does. In my mind, I could put the my beloved critter in the freezer, come to terms with their passing, and then take the deceased some where nice when I was good and ready.
Ron hated my habit of keeping dead pets or roadkill (for the Zooarchaeology Lab), but he is an immensely patient man, and put up with dead rodents beside his popsicles. One day a month or so after Wimpy's passing I said, "Honey, I think its time we take Wimpy to the forest." So I took Wimpy out of the freezer and we went out to the forest behind our apartment. I took her out of the ziplock freezer bag, wrapped her up tight in her little sweatshirt, said a few kind words, and threw her as far as I possibly could, aiming for a massive patch of blackberry bushes. But, instead of landing somewhere peaceful and out-of-sight, Wimpy and her little shirt got lodged on the branch of a large tree right on the edge of the forest. Just dangling there about 10 feet up. My frozen dead rat, and her little shirt swaying from side to side.
Ron had a look on his face of complete horror. I'm sure he figured he was about to climb that tree to retrieve my frozen dead rat, while I was in hysterics. But he didn't and I wasn't. We had a good laugh and still laugh about the day Wimpy got stuck in a tree.