August 2004

Crossed the Bridge:
October 11, 2005

Mismarked Black Hooded

Traveling, walking on the leash, oyster crackers

Visiting the vet, bathtime


In October of 2004, I walked into the rodent section of Petsmart and decided to buy a rat. I'd been wanting one for a long time, and since I was living on my own there was nobody to say no. When I had the attendant open the rat cage, one black and white rat ran up to meet me. I christened him Voltaire and took him home.

I hadn't known anything about rats when I got Volty, but internet research soon straightened me out. I returned a week later to purchase a larger cage (the attendant had sent me home with an 11"x11" mouse cage) and a ratty companion, Allister. From the start, Voltaire was my favorite. He was friendly, outgoing, curious. He was a constant bruxxer. Unfortunantly, he sneezed almost as much as he bruxxed. After a month or so, I made an appointment to see the vet, who prescribed Baytril and Doxycycline. After a week Voltaire's sneezing cleared up for the most part, although it never really went away.

For a drawing project one day, I decided I needed to use Voltaire as a model. I popped him in the travel cage and took him to school with me. He was a big hit. Teachers and students were popping their heads in the classroom to visit him. Voltaire loved it, bruxxing madly and exploring. From then on, I took Voltaire often on trips. I took him to school, to the park, even to the hair dresser. One night at a poetry reading I was rewarded with his first boggle.

I celebrated Voltaire and Allister's first birthday in August. They went for a romp in the bathtub and got miniature cupcakes. I was thrilled to celebrate my first ever rat birthday.

On Friday, September 30th, I noticed one of Voltaire's eyes was bulging, and his breathing was noisy, so I took to the vet, where he was once again prescribed with Baytril and Doxycycline. The first day he did okay, but the second day he refused his medicine, no matter how I tried to give it to him. He didn't seem to be eating. I was worried. The following Thursday, October 6th, I returned from school early to find him gasping for breath. We rushed him to the vet, who agreed to keep him overnight.

I called the vet daily. On Saturday morning I was scheduled to pick him up, but my alarm didn't go off and I didn't wake until the clinic had closed for the day. The vet gave me an update on Sunday and said Voltaire wasn't doing any better. He still wasn't eating. On Tuesday, October 11th, I received a call from the veterinarian. Voltaire's illness was rapidly progressing. We would have to put him down.

The vet's words were true. When I arrived at the clinic I found Voltaire gasping for breath. A head tilt was causing him to roll and twist madly. I had to do what was best for my baby. I held him in my arms as the vet injected him with anaesthesia. I held him and stroked him and comforted him until he fell asleep.

Voltaire was my first baby, and my first lost. I will hold him always in my heart.

All text, images, and content copyright Lori Weeder 2006 unless otherwise noted.