Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For Every High, There Must Be A Low

Life can throw some curve balls at you, ones that whip around and whack you in the side. Yesterday, I had to put my little buddy, Bixy, to sleep. He was a big boy. About three pounds and large. He also was beautiful -- lovely coloring and pretty ruby eyes. He was healthy as a horse his entire life, never needing medication (which is rare for a pet rat). But he was very old and started to show it. I knew his time was coming, though I had no idea it would be so sudden and out of the blue! His body finally started to give out and he started to crash, so I rushed him to my vet and had him peacefully put to sleep.

Bixy was quite a character, and a bit of a mystery (you can read about how I first got him here, nearly two years ago -- quite a terrible beginning). Predictably, he was a handful from day one. He was quite young (maybe eight months), and perhaps his experience left him a little "rough around the edges," but he was sweet and playful nonetheless. Beasley and Zeebee (my adult males I had at the time) had to socialize him quickly, though, as Bix was prone to playing a little too roughly and throwing his weight around a bit too much. So Beasley would adroitly flip Bix onto his back and lay on him, pinned down. That's all he'd do -- just lay on him, with this patient, "The boy is at it again," look on his face. After about twenty seconds of Bixy spazzing out, he capitulated and Beasley immediately let him up. After about two weeks of that (yes -- it took two weeks!), Bix started to behave more mannerly with the old men. It reminded me of what old bull elephants do with young bull elephants -- they teach them how to behave.

But what I didn't know was how attached Bix became to the two old guys, especially Beasley. When Zeebee and Beasley passed, Bix fell into a deep depression. He wouldn't come out to play, wouldn't eat and barely drank for nearly a week. Though he seemed to snap out of it -- he was never the same rattie again. He had suffered some kind of trauma, and he became insecure and aggressive as a result -- a bad combination. Despite my attempts to assuage him, he was my first rattie to go from being sweet and socialized to becoming an aggressive biter. And when he bit -- he meant it. Trust me when I tell you that when a rattie means to bite you out of anger, it's not something to laugh at.

This broke my heart, but I was determined to give him as good a life as I could regardless. He was my little "rebel without a cause," and over the next year and a half, I endeavored to earn his cooperation on some level. I didn't force myself on him, and that non-threatening approach was rewarded by him allowing me to pet him for a time, to give him rides on my shoulder (he'd crawl up my arm to get there), and finally being allowed to pick him up (about eight months ago). But he still retained a decided idea of his own "space," and a low tolerance to getting "buddy buddy." And was still quite hostile to anyone but me.

I believe we have things and experiences in our life for a purpose, and his presence in mine clearly was to teach me several important lessons about life, loss, empathy and patience. I'm also grateful to Hubby and my parents for tolerating an animal in my life who was dangerous -- simply out of trusting me and knowing that I needed to care for him despite anything else.

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." ~ Inuit proverb

Related Posts with Thumbnails