Author Topic: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)  (Read 319 times)

Offline BigBen

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It's been so hard to sit down and write this.  I said good-bye to my beautiful sweet boys George and Andrew two weeks ago.

Along with their brother and littermate, David, these were my West Side Highway boys.  I was so proud to be able to give some rats from that situation a home, having donated to the rescue effort but not being able to participate in the actual rescue more directly.  They came to me as eight-week-olds, from a foster home just across the river from me in Staatsburg, New York.

Back in 2015, Peter, James, and John were still in their prime, and the new kids looked so small compared to the "big boys."  I worried at first about putting them together, even though introductions seemed to go well, and when I took the plunge, sure enough, there was lots of squeaking and rustling in the cage.  But much to my surprise, when I went to rescue the baby who I thought was in trouble, lo and behold! it was one of the babies who had James pinned down, and it was the big boy who was squeaking for all he was worth!  ("Oh no, he's got me!  Help!  He's attacking me!")

The little guys were quick learners, and the big boys seemed to get a big kick out of playing along.  The big boys, for some reason, never really wrestled; they got a lot of enjoyment from pouncing on and power-grooming one another, and they also seemed to greatly enjoy involving the little boys in the game.  The loudest ruckus always seemed to involve one of the little guys pinning a big guy, so you just knew it all had to be in fun.  The babies quickly grew into big boys themselves, and then the cage would sometimes become quite noisy, often in the middle of the night.  The big boys passed away last fall, but the West Side Highway boys, though somewhat less rambunctious, continued the tradition of pinning and power-grooming until they became old men themselves.

It was impossible to tell which of the three boys was which, since they were identical PEW's.  I tried marking them with food coloring, but they groomed it off.  I had their ears tattooed, but the ink quickly faded.  Before it faded altogether, I had the vet notch their ears:  George on the right, Andrew on the left, and David un-notched.  The vet used the same anesthetic for the notching as we had used for the tattooing, and they never noticed a thing.  After that, it was much easier to tell who was who, and I was intrigued to find that my personality assessments had been consistent all along.  Nevertheless, I felt better having a way of being sure who was who when it came time for meds, weighings, and vet visits.

George was always the alpha of the trio; he was the feisty one, less willing to be picked up but a good shoulder-rider.  Andrew was the eagerest explorer and the most affectionate towards me.  David was always shyer and quieter, less willing to come out and play and then less willing to explore once he was out of the cage.  The three always got along well with the older boys.  Peter was mostly focused on me, but James and John took a kindly interest in the younger boys and could often be found cuddling with one or the other of them.  Intriguingly, once the older boys were gone the West Side trio often cuddled as a pair with the third boy by himself elsewhere in the cage.  The pairings continually shifted around, and the odd one out always seemed quite content by himself.  During out time, Andrew would go exploring, while George and David cuddled in the tissue box.  Then Andrew would climb into the tissue box for a while, and George would go off by himself.  Then Andrew would come looking for me and want some attention.  If George came out by himself, he would tolerate a certain amount of attention and then go back under the covers or behind a pillow.  But when George came looking for Andrew, that was the signal that they wanted to go back to the cage.  I was never sure if it meant they were tired of playtime or whether they just wanted to go back so they could get a treat.  George was wild about treats and would grab them with gusto; Andrew was a tad more gentlemanly, but equally enthusiastic.  (David, by contrast, was more particular about what he would go for, but the other two always made room for him when he showed up for his share.)

When David passed away (from what I suspect was a pituitary tumor--in any case, it was some kind of neurological problem), George seemed to really miss him, and I wasn't surprised to find one morning that he had lost his appetite.  I pointed him three times at the baby food treat, which he refused to touch, and each time he got more annoyed with me.  Later in the morning, I noticed that he was in respiratory distress and took him to be put to sleep.  Funnily enough, I wondered if Andrew should be put down too, but he seemed so well that I thought better of the idea.  He seemed perfectly fine the next morning, Saturday, when I went off to play for the Mother's Day tea at church, but when I got home at six p.m., he was in respiratory distress, too.  I guess he just missed his brothers too much to want to keep going.  It was far too late to take him to the regular vet, but there was a very compassionate veterinarian at the emergency clinic who helped him to the Bridge.

This double blow has really knocked me off my feet.  I miss my sweet West Side Highway boys. :love9:
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
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Offline purple rat

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 10:17:25 PM »
oh, Big Ben, I'm so sorry you're experiencing more losses   ((hugs))
As always, your memorial is touching and beautiful :'(.  Play hard at the bridge George and Andrew :heart:

proud mama of Spock, Merlin, Goober & Streaker

missing my babies at the bridge: Remy, Tuck,   Neo, Crash, MRR Canadian boys Kirby & Digby, brothers Baxter, Abbott & Bentley

Offline MinervaThonosi

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 12:26:53 AM »
Sorry for your losses. -hugs-

Offline RooRat

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2017, 07:42:14 AM »
What a lovely memorial :heart: So sorry for your losses :'(
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Offline gramma2jaakk

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2017, 10:22:41 AM »
You wrote a beautiful memorial for your boys. We will all miss your stories of their antics. I am so so sorry for your loss.

Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2017, 03:43:03 PM »
I am so sorry to hear about George and Andrew. All their different personalities make them that more special, and not to mention a much bigger hole in our hearts when they leave. They had such a great life with you. Rest easy and play hard, boys.  :heart:
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Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 05:06:32 PM »
I am so, so sorry. Beautiful words for boys who were beautiful, inside and out...
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Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 05:07:14 PM »
BTW does that mean you are now ratless? jm
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Offline BigBen

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Re: In memoriam George (2/22/15--5/12/17) & Andrew (2/22/15--5/13/17)
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 09:21:34 PM »
Thanks, everyone, for the kind thoughts​.  It's been hard.  Bartholomew had just moved onto the bottom of the DCN when George and Andrew went, so the cage is pretty empty with only one rat in it.  Bart is being unusually cuddly, and he takes extra care to groom my arms and hands thoroughly when he is out with me.  He seems to be missing the guys' presence as much as I am, even though they never got along.

I have been in touch with MRR about taking in some special-needs rats, who should be coming home soon.  I keep thinking of that saying, "To the world, they are just rats, but to your rats, you are the world."  Something like that, anyway.  It's why it's so important to give homes to these beautiful, loving creatures.
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
RatCode:  1m0f18r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n