Readers of this blog (and I don’t kid myself that there are very many anymore), will know that my rats, Stumpy, Stripe, (“Mummy”) Smudge and (“Auntie”) Dot have all passed on. Pudge alone remained as “the last of the Blues”. Inevitably, she too began to approach her old age. The first signs were that she began losing weight. Another sign was that she virtually lost the use of her back legs (something that usually affects male rats). About a fortnight ago, when I was celebrating my 50th birthday, I found Pudge lying at the bottom of the cage, cold and still. I thought she had died, but she was still breathing. We brought took her out of the cage and cuddled her for a few hours. She warmed up and revived, and by morning was bright an alert again. This happened a few times over the following weeks, usually in the evening. Every evening I thought she wouldn’t make it to morning, but next day, there she was, bright and awake.
But Easter Saturday night, I came back from the Vigil to find her again at the bottom of the cage, lying still. Again, more cuddles, but she was quite lethargic. Her front legs were not even responding to any stimulation, and she just lay still in my lap. This time we were sure she was near the end, but at bed time, I put her back in the cage, in the box with the other rats (we have four other rats, two pairs unrelated to the original Blues) to keep her warm. I thought it was her right to die in the same cage that she was born in.
Still, Easter Sunday morning arrived, and the morning cage check showed that Pudge was still with us. But I checked again after we arrived home from church, and this time the end had come – she had passed away in the hours we were gone. We had 5 additional guests for Easter Sunday lunch, so I didn’t have much time right then for mourning or funerary rites. In the afternoon I had to deliver the other rats to their AusRFS boarding home (I am going away on pilgrimage for the next two weeks), so it was really a very timely passing. I was worried that Pudge would die while at the boarder’s.
It was late in the the evening, and already dark, before I was able to bury Pudge and read the Prayers for the Burial of a Pet over her grave. The end of an era. Thanks be to God. Rest in peace, Pudge.