Initially, these two boys had lived in my daughter's room, and I didn't really have much access to them in their formative months. Once we brought the cage down into the living room--my guess is that they were about a year old at the time--I made persistent efforts to present myself to them as friend rather than foe. Or at least as "mostly harmless". Food bringer. I made significantly more progress on that front with Stripe, but Spot never stopped flinching when he saw me approach. Mind you, as soon as he spotted a morsel in my hand, he would eagerly grab it and scarf it down.
|Spot is the one on the left.|
Over the course of the past month, Spot has still flinched at my approach, but was happily accepting my increasingly creative offers of sustenance. In addition to putting his food on the cage floor so he wouldn't have to reach into the food dish, I started offering grape halves, bits of canned peach, dabs of yogurt---basically anything that would help get some additional liquid into him.
He was pathetic to look at, an the human residents of this household looked at him as little as possible. But he did still seem to be enjoying life to some extent, thanks in part to my efforts. A week or so ago, I noted that fresh cooked broccoli was apparently the most awesome stuff on earth. Anyway, I took a certain amount of pleasure in these little daily acts of kindness (mitzvas?) I was performing for what was objectively the least lovable creature I had ever intentionally lived with.
The end is near for Spot. We've been saying/thinking that for weeks now, but yesterday he started refusing food and drink. I suspect he is unconscious most of the time. Anyway, we keep checking on him. Yep, still breathing. Later on...still breathing. Seriously, boy, do you have something to prove?
Please indulge me as I turn to a bit of dark humor here. This is not fun, so sometimes you've just got to try to find a way to laugh at a predicament, you know?
A while ago, I jokingly speculated
Spot the rat genuinely seems to be slowing down now. He's over 2 1/2 years old, so he's definitely led a long life for his species. I was starting to wonder if he'd made the rookie mistake of asking the gods for eternal life without clarifying that he wanted that to come with a side order of eternal youth and heath.
I've revised my fanciful hypothesis since then. I now propose that Spot actually angered one of the Greek gods. My money is on Hera. Hear me out. You know how Zeus had a reputation for not being able to "keep it in his pants" (robe?) And also, when looking for some action among the mortals, I seem to recall that he didn't strictly just go for the females.
So, here's how I think it went down. Spot (Spotocles?) was caught by Hera in flagrante delicto with Zeus. Spotocles' punishment was to be turned into a lowly rat, and, just for spite, Hera threw in the part about living (practically) forever, but without the eternal youth and health that would make such a fate more bearable.
Zeus' punishment, in my estimation, was remaining married to Hera. Forever.