Little Grace and the rest ~ In praise of rescue pets

This morning’s “Facebook memory” transported me back to a day I remember so very well, and I felt the same wave of excitement and happiness I did at the time – six years ago today we adopted our very first rescue pet, our beautiful little hamster Grace.

I’d grown up with rescue dogs and cats in my childhood and knew how rewarding the journey with a pet given a second chance at life could be; but we’d never adopted or rehomed in our adulthood pets journey – and in fact I didn’t really know there was the opportunity for it in the small animal sphere.

I heard about Grace through a fellow rat owner, who had seen her advertised for free online and been worried about her fate so decided to take her on and find a good home for her. When she went to collect her, she found her being kept in a small plastic tub with air holes cut in, no way of seeing out, and an old injury had left her with only one ear. She was also extremely small for a Syrian hamster, but, no doubt due to what we would come to know was her irrepressible character, she didn’t let anything that might have happened in the first few months of her life dampen her spirits; and within hours of her “rescuer” getting her home she was racing around a new temporary cage, and had commandeered a 12″ rat wheel put in with other odds and ends “just in case” to give her some enrichment. She was so tiny on it but made it go effortlessly and absolutely loved it – in fact when she came to live with us we got her one the same size and she loved it all her days.

We brought Grace home on Valentines Day 2012, and she was the most wonderful addition to our little family and brought so much joy in her time with us.

She also began for us a habit of seeking to rescue our pets whenever we could – I had already decided to avoid pet shops for any new additions after learning about the rodent farming practices that can often be used by them; and as this left us with independent breeders or rehoming as our main options, we were always so happy if we found the chance to give a pet a second chance at life come up.

Just as I know it is with larger pets – and in many cases more so as time with the little ones is so much shorter and more precious – it’s so very rewarding to see rats and hamsters find their feet in a second home, and I have always found it such a wonderful thing to be able to do. There are often challenges of course – Lizzie, our first rescue rat, who came from the SSPCA in 2012, and Pipkin, our very troubled but so wonderfully special boy, adopted in 2014, had significant behavioural issues, but seeing them gradually overcome their fear of the world around them was the best feeling in the world.

Lizzie and Pipkin ❤

Healthwise too, the little ones’ starts in life often compromised them – Chae, Winnie and Pipkin were part of a large-scale rescue that made the news in our area, where 300 rats were found being kept in one house in terrible conditions – they were actually kittens born in the SSPCA centre to one of the many pregnant does rescued, so never lived in the house, but the in-breeding that had happened over so long left them all with very poor health and they all suffered from respiratory issues most of their lives. Still though, in spite of the odd jaunt to the vets and medication hidden in fruit juice every evening, they got so much out of their lives, and gave us so much too in return; really appreciating everything we did for them.

Winston Rat loving old age despite his ailments ❤

Of all the lovely animals we’ve owned, the rescues have often been those we’ve grown closest to, and the length of time they’ve had to spend with us has had no correlation to how much they’ve meant to us – Darcy the bustling hamster only lived with us the last six months of his life but I loved him so very much and he was a wonderful character.

Darcy

There are so many wonderful aspects to a life with rescue pets, big or small, and I’d recommend it to anyone considering taking on a new addition.

Grace, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winnie, Pipkin, Darcy, Rosie, Jasper and Jet all in their second home with us. ❤

Enjoying looking back on little Grace’s arrival and all the others’ time with us too.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

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Saying goodbye to the lovely Rosie….

Our little old lady Rosie sadly left us yesterday, but thankfully at a wonderfully old age and without having really been unwell at all other than a gradual slowing down over the past few weeks. Rosie was a real sweetheart of a pet and will be very missed from our home. 

She arrived into it on a sunny May bank holiday Monday back in 2014, which feels so long ago now. Back then, she joined us and our house-rabbit Simba, who ruled the roost in those days, our first male rats Chae and Winston who were only a few months old, and our Giant African Land Snail Sandy. It was a really busy time for us for lots of different reasons – Charmer was very ill at the time and it was a battle to get him nursed back to health; both my husband and I were studying for exams at work alongside working full-time; and we were in the last few months of planning our wedding too, so our world was more than a little hectic – but our new little dwarf hamster was nothing but a lovely addition. Rosie was there that first summer while we managed to see Charmer through his illness, although also at the same time sadly lost Simba very suddenly. She’s been with us throughout almost all of our first two years of marriage, a time period that has seen the arrivals of Harvey and Ty and departing of Chae and Winnie, as well as our Pipkin living out his whole life with us. A lot has moved on since the day we adopted Rose, and she was a wonderful part of our lives as it did. She was never any trouble and always very content – a while back I enjoyed writing this post about her which sums her up: 

https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/the-adventures-of-rosie-hamster/

Two and a half years on, we were home again this week on a bank holiday Monday –  this time a stormy September one – when it became clear that Rosie was probably not going to be with us much longer, and we had a really nice peaceful day with her. She was a lovely part of our little family, and I’m so glad we had such a lovely long time with her. x

Caring for the little ones… the peace at the end of the day

Driving home last night at the end of a long and busy day, there were more thoughts in my head than I had a hope of getting to line up – until, that is, I reached the animals. First, the horse, drawing into the farm on a dark night and flipping the lights on in the barn, feed piled into his bucket and the stable door propped open before grabbing his headcollar and my torch and making my way across to the gate, from where I could just make out a few heads raising briefly in interest from their grazing down the hill and then, all making short work of identifying me, just my own boy’s bobbing as he made his way up the hill, confident of a reward when he reached the top.

Making our way in he was straight into the stable and nose straight in the bucket in spite of the fact that our autumn/winter routine is only a few days old, and stood happily chewing while I fussed around him with fly sprays and brushes in his short time in before back out to the field – not yet time for the overnight stays of the thick of winter. 


There is nowhere more still and more calming to me than the abandoned barn at night, our presence and the orange glow of the strip light above our heads the only disturbance in the silent yard, shrouded in darkness at the top of the hill, with the lights of the city across the water the only twinkle in the distance. We made our way back to the field gate where we part ways with a quiet and steady clopping of shoes on the track; and, C sorted for the night, I wound my way on and drew up once more outside home, still turning over so many topics in my mind, when the little ones all lined up to demand attention.

Little Rosie must have heard us mention her 100th birthday at the weekend as in the last couple of days she has all of a sudden looked her age overnight, struggling a little to get around her cage and sleeping more than ever. Although her teeth seem ok, some of her hard food seems to have been a bit of a trial in the last few days, so had her some soaked biscuits and a little rearrange of her cage to keep things close, handy, and up no slopes. Nursing her and making sure she had everything she needed while she used my scarf to nestle in and give herself a clean took all my attention – there’s no space for anything else when the wee ones are needing care.

 

Harvey and Ty, our little mischief, don’t need too much at the moment, but are always there to politely line by the bars and ask for some attention and a wee jaunt out of their cage all the same. We are celebrating Ty being fully back to health and off his anti-biotics now – in spite of being prescribed the good-tasting one, the sight of the syringe made him make this face……

 

… while Harvey, by contrast, became VERY interested in voluntarily finishing up any medicine we didn’t manage to force feed his poor brother!


As my husband despairingly said, it always seems to be the wrong rats who get ill! We’ve had this in the past too, with our old boy Chae spending years watching Winston and Pipkin be syringed medicine for their recurring respiratory infections while he always sported a very left-out expression, had to have some yoghurt to keep him the same, and was the only one of the family never to need it! Still, Ty’s plight is over, and the boys were doing fine last night, both in a very cuddly mood.


The pets we have in our home and have had over the years always bring so much happiness and good times; but, more than that, even in the times they need more help or support or aren’t 100% at their best, bring such a stability, routine, and steadying sense of purpose to every day. Looking after our little mischief is one of the highlights of my day, and especially when things are busy elsewhere, is a retreat and a focus I am so grateful for. 

Have a wonderful Thursday – and a wonderful Autumn Equinox 🍃 🍁 🍂 all, from all of us. x

Happy 100th birthday to little Rosie-ham… ❤️

The littlest member of our household, Rosie, was celebrating a milestone today at 2 1/2 years old. She is doing amazingly well for her age, being a Campbell’s x Russian Winter White, and both breeds being listed as among the shortest life expectancies of hamster variations at 1 1/2 – 2 years. From as close a comparison of these into human years I can do, this should have made Rose approximately 80 back in March on her second birthday (which we made a suitable fuss of!) and now at 2 1/2 should make her the equivalent of 100 years old! ❤️

She is just a gem of a wee soul, so content, and pootling around as much as ever. Here are some photos of her the day we brought her home aged just 10 weeks on 29th May 2014, looking very bright-eyed and youthful, and some from today, celebrating her centenary!! 💯❤️…

… plus just one more I couldn’t resist, on her wheel this morning working out in spite of her advanced years!

Happy birthday Little Rose… 🐹💞 xx

Carefresh bedding

Had to share this photo of the set ups after their weekly full clean – looking very (I promise accidentally!) sexist in their distribution – Rosie’s girlie cage now bright pink and the boys’ blue one below! 

Didn’t quite mean to distribute so stereotypically but am in love with this Colours range by Carefresh – have used this brand for years, normally the brown or white or confetti, but really finding the Colours to make cleaning so much easier with any mess so easy to spot, and brighten up pets’ corner too! 

Everyone seems very settled and happy greeting the weekend after their Friday cage tidy, Rose testing her climbing frame and the boys lazing as they do best!



Happy weekend all. X 

Little and large!


Ended up briefly juggling big bruiser Harvey and tiny little Rosie the other night at cleaning-out time, with Harv tugging at my trouser leg to be picked up while Rosie was having her wee handle; and the size difference between them has never been clearer! Love all the pets, little and large! 😳❤️🐴🐭🐭🐹❤️