It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and that’s putting it mildly. If you thought there hadn’t been much news about the new girls, well, there’s a reason for that. And along with everything else that’s happened recently, it’s made for a lot of upset, but as you’ll see by the end of this post, we are coming out the other side of it all now. I’ll go chronologically, because it helps me keep it all straight in my mind.
So, the girls. They are rather nervous, and as it had been a while since we’d had youngsters, mistakes were made. Two weeks ago, after a month of trying and failing to get any kind of bond with them, I had a chat with the breeder and we agreed to ask a mutual friend who has a lot of experience with less tractable rats to assess them and see if she could help. The friend, C, agreed to visit on Sunday 15th. So that was on the 7th.
Also on the 7th, it looked as though Drumknott’s tumour was growing back.
Sunday the 8th, we decided that Cosmo was getting very poorly and might need a little help for that final journey. And Drumknott’s tumour was now visible, after not even being there four days previously.
So Monday the 9th, I took Cosmo to the vet to be put to sleep, and Drumknott to have his lump prodded and discuss options. At that point the sore patch left by the previous op was still visible, though healing now thanks to steroid ointment. We decided to let it continue to heal, then see what the lump was doing. Cosmo’s ladies, Dimity and Keepsake, were upset after his passing but at first they seemed to be ok.
By Sunday 15th, when C came to visit, Dimity was much weaker and Keepsake was starting to get frail too. She was eating, but struggling to hold food and often looked unhappy and in pain. C assessed the three little girls and then we decided it was best if she took them to work with them in her home, as I was now not able to put my hands anywhere near them.
So within a week, we were four down.
Monday 16th, Dimity and Keepsake were not coping. Vet trip. Both put to sleep. Just the boys left.
Wednesday 18th, Drumknott had an appointment to check his wound. As it had now healed but the lump was still growing, we had another chat about options and felt that he was otherwise healthy, chest clear, no indication of internal tumours, so we would have another lump removal and send it away for testing to see if there was anything we could do to slow its growth. We booked him in for the following day.
Thursday 19th. Took Drumknott in for surgery, went to work. Rang as instructed at about 1pm, he was coming round but still a little groggy, and I arranged to pick him up at 5. Just after 3.30 the vets rang to say he had started to struggle and they didn’t think he was going to make it. I rushed up there but he had passed by the time I got to him. Our vets are wonderful, by the way, and were amazing throughout the whole business.
So I brought him home and showed Lias (he checked him out, came to me for a cuddle, then decided Drumknott wasn’t going to need the food in his hospital cage so there was no sense in wasting it. That’s my boy). And I rang the breeder, S, who had given them to us in 2015 to be friends for Cosmo. We agreed she would take Lias back and find him some company. So we did that today. He has gone in a nice cage with a pretty little girl and we hope he’s going to make some lovely babies, and maybe we can have some of them. S had said before that she might want to borrow the boys for breeding from so I guess it was always at the back of her mind. Once he’s done his duty he’ll go in with some other boys and live out his days. He’s not too far away so we can go and see him.
Also today we buried the four who passed. Cosmo has a nice spiky thing I can’t remember the name of, the girls are sharing a big terracotta pot with a dwarf rhododendron, and Drumknott has a blue pot with a dwarf azalea.
Eight to zero in two weeks. What happens with the little girls remains to be seen and depends on how they do in “finishing school”. In the meantime we are taking the positive view that it gives us breathing space – especially in the last two years we have been reacting a lot to losses, trying to provide company for lone rats, rather than getting rats we want to be part of healthy groups. We can take stock now and think about what we actually want. On a more practical level, with the cages empty we can clear out the clutter and accumulated stuff that we’ll never use, deep clean everything, and redecorate the rat room, so when we do start again it’s a fresh start in every sense.