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Monthly Archives: June 2005

My little friend is dying

She has cancer. Most pet rats die of cancer eventually. It was put into their genes by us. For experimental purposes. But not many of us have to actually see them die. Only the few strange ones who love pet rats and appreciate their company.

These little fellows are always by your side. In proportion to their tiny little fragile body, their personality and affection is probably the biggest of all pets. Their immense intelligence allows them to play tricks on you. There is never a dull moment with a pet rat. They are like little people, each single one of them has their own character and preferences. They can be shy or independent or adventurous or placid. Some play with you, some like to cuddle. Some need to go out in the world and explore, some just stay on your shoulder and trust you to take them somewhere nice.

Kruemmel is one of the calmer pet rats. For her the world outside her cage ended on my bedside. But she was also very brave. Outside in the garden, she would explore. And she always stood up to our two cats, which always end up backing off when faced with her sternness of continuing her way.

But now Kruemmel is two years old and the time has come for her to leave. It’s a shame that after such an eventful and playful life, pet rats have to endure such undignified death. It’s slow and although not painful, it is just terrible to witness the rapid downfall of the once so agile and strong little body.

I think she knows she is dying, after all her body is deteriorating around her. She is in good spirits, but her body cannot follow. She copes very well, her tumor is really big now and encloses her right hind leg. So she cannot walk anymore and she cannot reach to scratch her right ear anymore.

But she still gets on with life, hobbling about, sniffing around, enjoying a cuddle and munching away her banana.

For me, the moment when I have to decide that it is better for her to give up on life than endure it with cancer comes nearer and nearer.

But Kruemmel is a brave little fellow and she puts up a good fight, prolonging the moment of saying good-bye for a little longer, I hope.

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