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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Snow games for the rats… ❄️🐭

Decided to bring a little of the outside in for the boys today as we woke once again this morning to fluffy white snow covering the garden. Always on the lookout for ways to make life more interesting for them at the moment, as they don’t get as much free range time just now as usual; and always glad of games I can play with them.

My whiskery pair 💙

Snow has seemed to take all our rats’ attention in the past, especially when digging through it for hidden treats, and Jasper and Jet, meeting it for the first time today, turned out to be no different (when I eventually persuaded them to leave their cosy hammock!).

Lovely to see them enjoying their fun and to spend some time with them. The sun is out now, and the peaceful blanket that fell overnight melting away under February’s brightness – but plenty digging and playing to be done for J&J!

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Caring for the little ones… saying goodbye to Perry x

Reading through some older blog posts this morning, I found that this one, written on an autumn night over a year ago, says everything that’s been on my mind in the last few weeks at this same time of year, as so many of these same themes have come round again.

It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that we had our little dwarf hamster Rosie still with us, nearing the end of her little life; and that Harvey and Ty were our only two rat boys – given that they went on to make the older part of our little rat family over months to come and that in fact things have gone full circle now and we are back to only two boys again, Jasper and Jet, with H&T, along with Marley, Reuben and Perry, having come and gone from our family in that time, bringing so many good memories with them to long outlast their stays.

We said goodbye to our distinguished gent Perry on October 11th, after a good few weeks of caring extensively for him as he became less able and enjoying seeing him enjoy the attention and cuddles in his last days. He was a fantastic pet; clever, engaging and affectionate too, and we miss him very much already; but it was wonderful to have such lovely times with him at the end of his life, and in those weeks the truth was hit home to me all over again of just how special, how all-encompassing, how anchoring and how heart-softening it is, in the midst of the trials of life, to come home each night to a pet needing extra care and attention. I’m so grateful to our little man Perry, and to all our pets past and present for the incredible gift they give us just by needing us.

Have a lovely weekend all. xx

A Mischief Managed - and Other Adventures

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…

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Rat adventures – my oldie getting older and the young ones finding their feet 💙

Life for our little mischief of rats seems to be moving on at the same hurtling pace that time is passing generally, and I can hardly believe it’s nearly two months since Jasper and Jet came to join us. They are fast becoming well-loved and characterful members of the family and settling into their new home.

 

 

Perry, Jet and Jasper are a well established little gang these days and are mostly to be found all curled together in their comfiest bed, although at playtime they take the chance to go their seperate ways and get up to their own preferred activities – Perry snuggling straight under a blanket as close to either of us as he can get and settling there for the evening; Jet careering about investigating with an alarming speed exactly how much trouble he can cause on that particular day; and Jasper perching himself on the nearest available shoulder to best observe his brother’s antics – and to be in the perfect position to re-style anyone’s hair he feels might be needing it!

Our Perry has been showing his age lots recently, quite to our surprise as his estimated age is only 18 months. All of a sudden he’s looking very distinguished and grey round his wee muzzle, and has also been really struggling with his back legs in the last couple of weeks, seeming to be showing fairly advanced symptoms of hind leg degeneration.

As we adopted Perry and his brothers from their previous home as adults, there is of course the possibility we’ve begun to wonder about now that their ages when we got them might have been quite a bit out, which could mean we didn’t lose Marley and Reuben as early in life this summer as we believed, and would also explain Per greying and struggling with movement at what seems a relatively young age. We can never know one way or the other, and really it doesn’t matter – the important thing is helping him have the best life he can, and just now he seems to be doing that, just adoring his evening cuddles with us for as long as we’ve time for every night.

We’ve only experienced HLD in rats a couple of times, with Peatie and Sylvie, two of our healthiest and longest living girls, who both made it to around three years old, and in their last months lost the use of their hind legs gradually. They seemed to react to it differently to Perry though, and were both very keen to keep moving regardless of their gait, just completely adapting as the degeneration went on, so we didn’t have to gee them up in any way and they really made the best of it. Perry on the other hand is slowing way down right away and lying down at the moment most of the time, so I am trying to think of inventive ways to keep him busy. Found a great article on HLD here, but if anyone has any tips on how to keep him active and happy as long as possible please share!

I was pleased to see that one of the main ways to do this is give an older rat the company of young active cagemates and Perry certainly has this in abundance with our two mavericks to contend with!  We did speculate at first that the new whiter look could be simply a response to life with Jet as he’s such a horror sometimes I don’t know how he’s not turned us all grey! 😉 But he does his job well keeping Perry on his toes and Jasper provides a bit of a compromise, plenty of cuddles but games and scrambles for food too. They are both really coming out of their shells more and more every day and I’m so glad to see all three of them enjoying life together.

 

 

Happy Friday all and have a good weekend. X