Feb 23, 2013

RatFink


I'm sitting here today, after having worked 5 hours of overtime, cleaned the rat cage, and cuddled Fink for as long as she would let me ... wishing that my little ratties lived longer.  Fink isn't doing so well - I'm fairly sure at this point that she has a pituitary tumor, which means there is nothing I can do except to make her as comfortable as possible.  She's almost 2 and was the first experience we had with rattie intelligence - and there's a story behind that one.
One evening, not long after getting Fink, she was out and running around on top of our desks, which face each other.  Josh was still at work, and she was over on his desktop, when I heard a gnawing sound.  Sure enough - she was nibbling on the foam padding of his headphones.  OOPS ... she knew she had screwed up and came slinking back over to my side of the desk, where I scooped her up and put her back in her cage.  Josh came home about 40 minutes later and before I had a chance to tell him, he stopped by her cage to say hi.  Well, she had initially climbed up the bars to greet him, but when she realized who it was, she dropped back down and "hid" in the back corner instead.  Of course he picked her up for cuddles to see if she was hurt or anything, and she started licking all over him - she'd always been kissy with me but not so much with him, so that was a little surprising.  That was when I told him about the headphones and we realized she was ashamed and was doing the only she knew how to apologize.
Think about it ... not only did she remember what she had done - 40 minutes later - but she also connected Josh with his headphones and the fact that she wasn't supposed to chew on them, and felt shame for having done so ... and then tried to apologize!

It's just not fair - I think of how smart and affectionate she is, and how awesome it would be to have her around for years and years.  Think of all she could learn if she just had that kind of time!  Maybe that's why God takes them so early - they're just too smart for us humans to be able to handle.

Is it weird or strange that I can get so attached?  A lot of people say yes, especially where a rodent is concerned.  But I don't see Fink (or any of my girls) that way.  They are family - they have fur instead of smooth skin, but they are my babies just the same.  My ratties know their names, come when called (usually, especially when there are yogies involved), and all of them give "kisses" - licking all over my fingers.  They follow me and beg for attention and love - some will even leap out of the cage onto my shoulder if I'm not paying *enough* attention to them!

So while I have the time, this is my tribute to Fink - the first of many, who introduced me to everything a rat can be.  The other girls will have some very large paw prints to fill.