This is the kind of day those who share their life with animals dread.
People, when they hear what I do here at Pawsitivity Team, often wish they too could spend their life surrounded by the adorable while doing a good thing…who wouldn’t right? However, there is a heart-wrenching side to this adorable world that I dwell in and the very idea of it is often enough to keep people from doing this at all.
No, it never gets easier. Yes, even after over 200 animals coming in and out of my life over the last 2 and a bit years, I still cry each and every time.
Do I wish I didn’t get so sad? No. I am glad that the animals, often arriving unwanted, have somebody to feel their departure. I think they deserve to know that their little selves made a mark. That someone cared enough about them to cry.
So let me share the story of Mabel. Her story deserves to be shared.
This tiny rat started life ‘not pretty enough’ to get a home and her little life was to be cut short because of the colour of her fur. Neither of us knew we would spend the next few years becoming friends.
Mabel stole my heart by snuggling onto my shoulder in a pet shop I was in by accident…sitting on my shoulder was to be her happy place for the rest of her life.
She was born with an agouti coat. This is the technical term for brown…the natural colour of a rat. Some of her siblings had black coats which are considered ‘prettier’. Those with black coats were put up for sale in a pet shop. Those with agouti coats were to be destroyed and used to feed reptiles (the ethics of this are for another post on another day).
I couldn’t leave her there so she came home with me that same day and I named her Mabel.
We have gone on merrily for years. Mabel…having started life as ‘too ugly’ won BEST RESCUE IN SHOW the next year at the Scottish Rat Club Show and I couldn’t have been prouder.
She came with me to demonstrations to encourage responsible pet ownership and why people should adopt and not buy animals from pet stores. She has helped to remove the stigma and fear surrounding rats by being so friendly to everyone she met. She has changed peoples attitudes and she has been a true ambassador for her kind.
Not only that, she fell in love with my partner as soon as she met him. I loved that when we moved in together he made sure to give her a tour of the flat. They became friends too and there was a lot of love in our home.
She was the best rat I could ask for and you can imagine my heartbreak when I discovered she had cancer. On vet advice, she was to carry on as normal but I was to monitor her behaviour very carefully. She got quieter but she stayed her happy, friendly self for 6 months. Everything was as good as can be until a few days ago.
She suddenly started moving slower, she ate less and slept more. I could tell the time was coming where I was going to have to make a heartbreaking decision.
On Saturday I decided enough was enough and that Monday I would have to take her to the vet. On Sunday morning I made her an indulgent breakfast (egg, cornflakes, nuts…all the good stuff) and after breakfast I gave her lots of cuddles and waited til she went for a nap.
I went to have a cup of tea and tried not to think about the decision Monday was probably going to bring.
I popped my head back in before sitting down to work and my sweet Mabel had passed away in her sleep.
Mabel, beautiful creature that she was, left her teeny tiny paw prints all over my heart throughout her life.
Today is a day I wish I didn’t do this. Today is a day I wish humans would just sort themselves out and stop causing so much unnecessary pain.
However, it is her story that will inspire me tomorrow to do what I do. Today I can be sad but tomorrow I have to keep loving and caring for the other animals that rely on me…and somewhere out there…another animal will desperately need me to remember everything Mabel and the others have taught me.
Rest easy now Mabel. You did good sister.
Before you buy an animals please think. Think of those who never made it to the shop floor because of how they look. Think of the industry you are supporting. Please try and find an animal that needs you and what you are offering. A loving home.
As my Grannie would say ” Of all of them in the world…be glad you met her.”