My Rat Memoir: The End Of A Legacy

Oh Cordelia, who knew when you first came to me, you rodent you, with your scaly tail and wildly flaring nostrils would so easily find a welcome place in my home? After all, who among us does not have chilling Black Death et al flashbacks when thinking of rats?

Sure, they may have 'helped' spread the virus that might have killed up 75 million people in Europe alone, but what is a bit of attempted genocide in between friends? It is not like they meant it.

Since we cannot even pretend to be equally guiltless throughout our own history. Why should we abhor animals with the IQ of 6?
At least we knew what we were doing, regardless of the BS we told ourselves to justify it.

So, back to Cordy. I took her originally as a favour to a my best friend's sister Karin, you see this cutie --the rat-- came from a lab. She had been part in a number of experiments and she was getting close to her, uh, 'layoff' date if you catch my drift. Which meant she would be put to sleep along with all her fellow rats and sisters: She had two of them.

The lab tech --whose name shall go nameless-- felt sorry for the little one and decided to spare her. However, she could not keep Cordy herself as her boyfriend at the time was highly allergic to rats and so she ended staying "temporarily" with me.

As you can imagine, my first mistake was to inquire the exact meaning of the word 'temporary.'
After all, England had temporary control over Hong Kong for over one hundred years at the end of the Second Opium war and ditto for the 85 years the United States maintained and babysat the Panama Canal.

Surely, my tenure with Cordy would be nothing of that sort as I expected the little critter out of my apartment in a matter of weeks.

So, two years and a second rat later. Who knew rats were communal creatures and can easily spin into depression unless you get them a room mate? Yes, depression, if kept alone. Obviously not what I had originally signed for.

As you can clearly see, Cordy is the pillow and Lenore -- known as the "lowly number two" or "pleb-rat" is ironically commanding shotgun and clearly enjoying the bean-bag that is her sister. Now, I don't know about you but these do not look like stressed out animals. Genocidal? Uh, no. Lazy maybe, opportunistic would be a better bet. Narcissistic? There you go, that would fill the bill even better as they obviously enjoying a symbiotic warming system. However strung out would be a hard call, I mean, this pics were taking at night and rats are supposed to be nocturnal. Damn furry freeloaders. And that they were, since I normally used to feed them anything I ate, for example chicken, cow, salmon, shrimp, pasta, mussels and sushi. Heck they even had shark, swordfish and turkey. Obviously they tasted things that would otherwise be impossible in the wild. They loved it, but I mean, a rat stalking and killing a shark? Darwin is probably rolling in his grave!

Then, only a week before her anniversary, Cordy fell ill. I never knew what was wrong as it happened suddenly. Sure she was older and she had been slowing down but from one day to the next?

She was almost motionless. Just lying there...
Later I would be told she probably suffered a stroke. I tried to cheer her up, gave her some antibiotics in the hopes that she had some virus.
But it was all to no avail. Nothing helped.

I took part of the afternoon off to spend sometime to rat-sit. It was heartbreaking to see her willfully trying to saunter as half her body refused to comply. She drag herself to my lap and it was then when the choice was made to put her down.

Later that night, Karin came by with a syringe that would do the deed in the most humane possible way. Trust me it was, I was there. We said good-bye Cordy and soon thereafter the needle went into her heart. Karin then handed her to me and I held her on a towel petting her as her breathing started slowing down.

I spoke kindly to her, knowing fully well this rodent had no possible way of understanding what I was saying. But I have read somewhere that many animals, although not as intelligent as humans, can distinguish responses and basic behaviour. Cordy passed away fifteen minutes later.

Later that night, I went to the back of the building and buried her. Throwing her down the shute didn't seem quite right. Along with her went her favourite toys and her blanket.

Had anyone ever told me that I would have been distraught at the death of a rat I would have thought it silly. However it is amazing how a little critter can become a part of your life like that.
Heck, I still know tons of my friend who would be disgusted at the idea of a having a rat as a pet and that is their choice.

However Cordy you had such a wicked personality for an rodent that I can't help but to be sorry at the loss, and if anything she won't be forgotten. How could I? She was my first pet rat.

Yup Cordy, you lived.

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