|All things bright and beautiful,|
All creatures, great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
-Cecil Frances Alexander
A reverence for nature, a love for all of God's creatures, respect for life, compassion, selflessness, responsibility, joy--all were learned and cultivated in my boy through the care and keeping of his rats.
Remus and his brother Romulus joined our family two and a half years ago after being rescued from the feeder rat cage at the pet store. My oldest has an established pet sitting business, doing everything from feeding cats and walking dogs to caring for exotic pets both in their homes and ours. One client had him take care of her rats in our home because she was suffering from a serious illness and had her home on the market to sell. She couldn't care for all her many creatures, and so she placed the two rats in my son's care. He grew to really love them, and when she was unable to take them back after three months due to her illness, she asked him if he would like to keep them. He, of course, said he did, and they lived with us for almost a year. They were already senior citizens when he took them in, and they lived a very comfortable and busy life. After their passing, my son really wanted to continue to be a rat owner, so we decided to rescue some from the pet store.
I have to admit that I was not a rat person when the first two entered our lives. My only experience with rats had been with a very wild and high-jumping one that had infiltrated our pantry through a hole left by the plumber--no fun at all. However, after a few days with Tonks and Bella, I realized how fun they really were. They were clean, smart, and much easier to take care of than any other pocket-pet we'd ever had. They slept all night (unlike hamsters,) and they were sweet and gentle and loved to be held (unlike hamsters,) and they were clean and fastidious with their nests. They quickly became part of our family.
If my 13-year-old's bedroom door is ever closed, it is because he is holding the rats or has his cockatiel out of her cage and doesn't want the cats to come into his room. He can be found sitting on his bed playing his guitar or reading a book with his bird sitting on his head and a rat nestled in the crook of his arm. He keeps their cages in order, and he cleans their bowls and prepares fresh food and water for them every day. He is diligent and responsible and caring and loving. For the past two weeks as Remus had started ailing, my son hand fed him with baby food and chunks of melon. Remus finally quit eating or drinking, and he passed away last night. My son kept vigil last night, holding Remus and checking on him regularly. When he came to wake me up at 3:30, he told me he thought Remus had died. He held him tenderly, and we wrapped him in a blanket and prepared a box for him.
I have watched my son grow this year from a boy to almost a man as he has shot up in height and his voice has gotten deeper, but he showed his true maturity over these past weeks as he cared for Remus.
(aka Harry Remus Potter)
March 2009-June 2011