Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Short-Lived But Long-Loved


If you've been following my blog for a while, you know about my little fur baby, Fred (aka The Bun).  Back in early June she was diagnosed with pneumonia. After two weeks of antibiotics she seemed better....then it came back (or never went away), and we tried a different antibiotic.  When that didn't work, the vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory, which resulted in an immediate improvement, and renewed hope that she would pull through.  The hope was short-lived, and on July 31st I took her back to the vet to be put to sleep.  The vet talked me out of it, noting that she was still eating and grooming, and suggested we combine the two antibiotics with the anti-inflammatory, and that I wait until after the long weekend to see if there was any improvement.   The weekend came and it was obvious that she was uncomfortable.  She lost her appetite, sat crouched in a corner of her cage, and didn't want me to touch her.  It broke my heart, and I had to make a decision.  On Sunday, August 3, Heather and I took her to the emergency Vet Hospital where she ended her suffering.  The staff there were wonderful, and the vet technician that took care of Fred had rats of her own, and understood how attached you could get to a little rodent.   While I was at the hospital, an older couple came in with their 14 year old cat, who was obviously in distress,  and we looked at each other with tears in our eyes, acknowledging our shared grief.  It must be very difficult working in a place where every patient is hurting, and more often than not, the owners have to say goodbye to a beloved member of the family.   The staff even sends out hand-written sympathy cards to the owners of pets who have died at the hospital.

She was the best roommate I could wish for, except for the time she chewed through my telephone cord, and made a hole in a very expensive jacket, but that's what rodents do.  There is absolutely no way you can discipline a rat.  And how could one be angry with that little face?

She was scrupulously clean (and oddly enough, smelled very slightly of grape soda) and very quiet.   She loved all fruit (especially bananas, watermelon and blueberries), cheerios, and the peanut butter and bacon dog biscuits from the bakery at the Western Fair Farmers' Market.  Occasionally I would fill a paint tray with water and let her bob for peas, which was very entertaining for both of us.  She was an excellent climber, a good problem solver, and much smarter than I probably gave her credit for. 

I was endlessly fascinated by her delicate, human-like front paws, her halo of whiskers and fuzz-covered tail.  She had an obsession with licking the inside of my ears, which drove me crazy, but I let her do it because it made her happy. She was the first living creature I saw in the morning, and the last at night.  

 The week before she died, I had asked my friend Mark (who also shot my Tilda Swinton tribute photo) if he would take some photos of her with his incredibly expensive camera (he also contributed the title of this post)  I am forever grateful to him for these wonderful reminders of the little rat that took up very little space in my apartment, but occupied a lot of room in my heart.

28 comments:

  1. Oh Shelley, thank you for sharing. I am truly sorry for your loss and had been wondering about how Fred was doing. It's an excruciatingly difficult decision to make when we put down a much-beloved pet. But as you say, watching her suffer is the worst. I console myself, even now, over the loss of Dinky: my pain still lingers, but thankfully hers, like Fred's, is long past. Shedding a tear for you both at this very mo. Lovely photos to remember Fred by. Xox

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  2. My sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies. For all that we do for our pets, they will never know just how much they do for us.

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss of Fred, clearly a dear little rat and a good friend. It's the hardest thing we've done, deciding to end our pets' suffering. Wonderful photos here that show what a lovely rat she was, and how much she was loved. xox

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  4. So sorry, Shelley...losing a beloved pet friend is never easy. How lovely to have had those beautiful pictures taken.

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  5. Shelley I'm heartbroken for your loss of lil Fred. I think sometimes the smaller the fur baby the more attached we become. I wish I could hug you, can't wait to see your face later. These pictures are beautiful and such a wonderful memory for you.
    Lots of love xxxoo

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  6. What an eloquent and heartfelt tribute to Fred. Oh these creatures who share our lives, how we come to love them, and depend on their company. When I had to have one of my cats put down, I asked the vet if she had become immune to the sadness and tears of bereft owners, and she said she hadn't, it was always difficult for the veterinary staff too. I found that curiously reassuring and comforting - not that I want their job to be hard, but I'm glad she hadn't lost her empathy and understanding of how very, very sad it is to say goodbye to beloved pets.
    These photos are stunning. You won't need pictures to remember Fred by, but they are lovely nonetheless. Sending much love. xxx

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  7. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. What a lovely little rat Fred was. I have never had pets of any description but I can begin to imagine how attached one might become to a rat as we had a wild one visit us last autumn. We began to suspect that a rat had come in the kitchen window, and so began to leave it closed unless it was daylight and we were right there. One night we heard a noise, and discovered that we'd blocked the escape route for a young visitor. Even whilst I was terrified that she might somehow get in to the rooms where my human babies were sleeping, I could still appreciate her intelligence and daring. After a nervous interval of making one another jump, my husband bravely managed to get her window open and she dashed out and disappeared. We haven't had a rat in the house since, but I was slightly surprised to find that I had far more sympathy and concern for her than I did fear. There was never any indication that she'd found any food here, I hope she did elsewhere, and I wonder why she came.

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  8. so sorry for your loss, dear lady, and touched by her little cute personality and all the good moments that you shared!
    besos & hugs

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  9. I'm so sorry for the loss of your little family member. They sure leave an empty space in our hearts. Big hugs.

    Bisous
    Suzanne

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  10. Shelley, I'm so sorry to hear about your beloved Fred! What lovely pictures. I've been through 2 hamsters, 5 guinea pigs, a turtle, 2 lizards, a dog, and I'm on my 3rd cat. Every single one of them has been hard to deal with. I loved the rodents (not so much the turtle, lizards and dog) and cats the most. Rodents are such lovely creatures, and so smart. Know that you gave dear Fred a wonderful life. Sending you good vibes, hon.

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  11. It's a special kind of hurt when one loses a pet. I'm so very sorry for your loss, Shelley.

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  12. oh, oh, oh, what a dear little rat tribute you've given your Fred. She's was a beauty alright. Thank you for sharing her wonderful pictures with us. I'm so sorry for your loss, Shelley.

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  13. I'm so sorry to hear about your losing Fred. It sounds like she put up a valiant fight, but it must be hard for such a tiny creature to battle something as big as pneumonia. I know you'll miss her deeply, and these lovely photos will be a poor stand-in. But I especially love the one where you're kissing her back. She was well loved.

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  14. Oh she really was a beauty and these pics show what a close and loving friendship you had. Goodbye Fred. xox

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  15. An absolutely lovely and loving tribute. So sorry you have lost your fur buddy. Anyone who has lost a pet knows how deeply sorrowful those last days are, as are many of the days that follow those last days.

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  16. A beautiful "ode" to Fred and the relationship that enhanced and sweetened your life. Your friend Mark provided wonderful photos in memory of how much you cared for your furry friend. I'm sure that the space of early morning and bedtime with feel empty for some time. XO

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  17. it's always so sad to lose a pet(family member). Hugs to you

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  18. Always a heartbraker when our beloved pets die... I love rats and i had one once that used to sit in my hair out on the town all the ladies screamed... They are great personaltys and all are different. .

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  19. I'm so sorry. These gorgeous photos just go to show how much Fred was loved. Pets provide so much joy in our lives but its devastating when they leave us. xxxxx

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  20. Bobbing for peas? That must have been the most fun time with Fred. I'm so sad to hear this news, as you know, Shelley. Mark's photos are stunning - I'm glad you've got these. And I'm glad you have the support of good friends to help you through this sadness.

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  21. Aw, how incredibly cute! Yes, it must have been so heart breaking to lose her, even though, as you acknowledge, they don't live very long. You have written very movingly about your dear little furry friend, and I'm sure it will strike a chord with pet lovers, no matter what animal companion they have. Sorry for your loss.

    Rosemary from www.foreveronthecatwalkoflife.blogspot.com

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  22. So so sorry, Shelley! Yes, we've had rats. Love them to pieces. They so love to sit on your shoulder. I'm sure you still feel her there. And yes, they are smarter than we know. Sadly their lives are fleeting but they leave big holes. Big Hugs!

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  23. I'm so sorry you've lost your lil' fur baby. She sounded like a wonderful companion. I am sure that you gave her a very loving home.

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  24. You got me on this one. I'm glad you were able to get these pictures, and I'm moved by your loving tribute. XXXOOO

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  25. So sorry for your loss! These pictures are really lovely.

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  26. So sorry ! I know the feeling i had to put my beloved cat to sleep a couple of weeks ago - OMG it was the sadest moment of my life, TG my Mom was with me - I held my beloved Chouchou until he passed away - So hard to let go our cherished pets- My heart goes to you Shelley!

    Hugs

    Arianexo

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  27. Shelly, we are so sorry for your loss. Fred was an adorable little creature that obviously brought you much joy. She was lucky to have you as an owner. Thank you for pulling together such a touching gallery of photos to remember her by. Thinking of you and Fred.
    Jean & Valerie

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