This article is from the Fall 2002 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Our Pets & Friends
By Pat Bromberek, Portage, WI
One cold day in December 1999, I received a phone call from a fellow rat-lover telling me about a rat that needed a home. She was 4 weeks old, black with a white underside, and white hands. The only thing different about her was that she was born with back legs that only grew as far as the knees. I ran up to the pet store that had her and when I got there, the clerk was waiting for me with the little rat in a box.
Once I got home, I gently pulled out a very frightened little girl. She was quivering as she sat in my cupped hands, looking straight at me. The expression on her tiny, precious face seemed to say, “OK, I’m here! Now what?”
I gave her a soft kiss and put her in an already prepared aquarium. She looked around her new surroundings loaded with toys, etc., and then looked back at me. “Rudy!” I said aloud. “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” She then began to run around as if to acknowledge that Rudy was the name destined for her.
Rudy grew rapidly as all rats do and did mischievous things rats are all known to do. With stumps for hind legs, this didn’t stop her from climbing onto the tops of boxes, igloo house, or even ramps! She loved to be held and enjoyed playtime with other rats. Eventually she ended up with three other girls. All were older but gentle as if they sensed Rudy was “special” because of her lack of back legs. But Rudy quickly told them “Play with me! I’m just like you! Don’t treat me different!” and she would start rough-housing with these old gals, telling them “let’s rumble, ladies!”
Every morning when I opened their cage door, Rudy ran over and was the first to greet me. She would scamper off a ramp she was lying on and in a second, she’d be licking my hand. Such a happy little girl my Rudy was! Nothing got in her way from living a very full life. As her roommates aged, Rudy gave them lots of licks to comfort them. She’d nestle close to them for the needed warmth their old frail bodies craved, and even when a cancerous tumor invaded her body and began to slowly pull life from her, Rudy always was the first to greet me in the morning.
I knew that this inoperable tumor was going to take her away from her elderly friends and me eventually, but I just didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to love her everyday she was here and she too wanted to do the same. Both of us knew the inevitable was knocking at the door.
Rudy passed her 3rd birthday. The tumor grew slowly at first, but suddenly began to accelerate. It had been 3 months since it first was diagnosed, and, as every morning, she’d come greet me, but now at a slower pace. She no longer could climb and lay atop her favorite ramp, so the igloo house was her home. She always looked so happy—she was happy! And the morning came where upon opening the cage door, no one came to greet me...I knew. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!