American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2012 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Our Pets & Friends


By Christina Kinley

As a rat lover since I was 11 (I am now 34), I’d like to share a story about one of the sweetest loves of my life. His name is Elmo, and here is his story.

On a trip to my local mall pet store in 1997 for feed and supplies, I was drawn to a cage of baby rats. The habitat was overfull; the little babies were stuffed closely together. I knew I didn’t need another rat (yeah, right), but I called a clerk for assistance. The ammonia scent was overpowering.

I placed my hand in the litter, and of course, was quickly greeted by bunches of sweet rodent curiosity. One in particular, a Blue Rex male with a white blaze, made his way deep into my heart. And so it was, I went home with baby Elmo.

As soon as I got him home, I noticed that he was sneezing constantly. I held him up to my ear, and my heart sank. He was so wheezy and congested. The next morning I asked several family members to please drive me to the vet. I was laughed at and told that they could take care of that rat for free . . . I’m sure you know what they were insinuating. Grandpa did take me, chiding me most of the way.

The vet was incredible. He treated me with respect, and Elmo with sincere compassion. I will never forget his kindnesses. We left with antibiotics for Elmo’s respiratory infection and advice to dose the meds with canned cat food, teaching me that a rat that cannot smell, will not eat.

In no time, my sweet baby was clearing up and getting better. Elmo was so very cute and loving—he was a little angel dressed in rat. For a precious year and a half, Elmo shared my life. He truly was my best friend.

Sadly, he became ill one January day. He slept right beside me that night, laboring to breathe. I cried and prayed all night for my angel.

Again, I rushed him to the vet. The doctor listened carefully to Elmo’s lungs. It was bad. My dear friend had pneumonia. My mind started racing. How did this happen? What had I done wrong? The vet assured me I’d done nothing wrong. That his respiratory system was damaged by the ammonia when he was a baby.

The decision was made to let Elmo go on in peace. The sweet vet gently administered the anesthesia. What came next is full proof that a rat, hated by so many, is a living, breathing soul capable of astounding love. I was crying so hard as I watched my friend passing away, I could barely see. His breathing slowed more and more, until I watched him take his final breath. I screamed, Elmo!!! I love you! I’m so sorry!

Upon hearing my cries, he gasped and took more breaths. The vet came in and told me not to let him hear me. That he was trying to hang on for me. I had to let Elmo go, set him free. So with muffled sobs and swollen eyes, I told my best friend that he could go, that I’d see him again someday.

Elmo did go . . . he went to the place where all beautiful souls go. God doesn’t look at the bodies we’re in. He sees the spirit inside.

I just had to tell his story. See you soon, Dear Elmo. *

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July 21, 2015