Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bye-Bye My Barbara Rat

Yesterday Tim and I had Barbara put to sleep. She was 2 years 8.5mos old. (Rats typically live anywhere from 2-3 years.) She had always been an active and curious rat, full of life until last week. No longer able to roam around like she used to, she was still happy to check out the cage and play with her sister(s). But last week she seemed to lose interest in everything. It got to the point where we had to hand feed her because she couldn't chew her food very well. We made Lab Block Mush and even peeled grapes and garbanzo beans for her (I bet you didn't know that garbanzo beans had skins). She spent most of this last week sitting in her nest box or moping in a corner of her cage, only coming to life when we held her, and even then it was to eat salad. Barbara did show us how much she loved us this week, bruxing each time we held her and even snuggling with me for a while, which she never did as an active rat (I mean, I know all the ratties love me, but a rattie life is a busy one: snacks to eat, nests to line, faces to wash, sisters to fight with, nuts to stash, people food to steal. There's only time for a quick kiss and then they're off!).

There was still some doubt as to whether or not it was the right thing to do up until we met with her vet. But after an examination, the dr. said that our Barbara was very depressed. We told her what we had observed over the last couple of weeks which confirmed her diagnosis of depression and a possible pituitary tumor. She did offer to give Barbara a shot which would make her feel a bit better for a short time, but said we should expect a rapid decrease in her already limited mobility and depression over the next week or so. The last thing we want is to have her be unhappy. Our girls' happiness is very important to us, and we felt that if Barbara isn't happy anymore then it isn't right to make her suffer any longer than possible. After a brief, private discussion we decided to have her put to sleep as arranged. We said our good-byes, Barbara bruxing a bit which I'm sure was to let us know that she loved us and that everything will be alright. It was hard, giving her a last kiss, to see her try to leave the dr.'s hands and climb back to me. Then she quieted down, and left.

I miss my little Barbara Rat, but Tim reminded me that she is most likely at the Rainbow Bridge, happy and young again, running around in the grass (she's always wanted to go outside) and eating nuts and seeds, and maybe even wrestling with her new rattie friends. I know that the Bridge is a happy dream, but one I hope will be there when I wake up.

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