presenting mellicent

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 |
This is the part where I introduce my pet. Pet in grad student speak equals attempt to stave of insanity by adopting something alive/warm (and preferably furry) that will love you unconditionally, no matter how many deadlines you miss or how stressed you get. So it makes sense that lots of grad students have pets. Especially those of us without roommates. After Christmas, a friend of mine got a cat from a local shelter, and I was thinking of my own situation, imagining how nice it would be…

But I live in a postage stamp-sized apartment, and I travel quite a bit, and a cat or dog is a big commitment. I mean, they live for like 15 years! That’s obligation, dedication, a lot of time I wasn’t quite ready to pledge when I don’t even have a five year plan…

So I thought to myself, what’s still a warm, fuzzy pet, and semi-intelligent but isn’t going to live forever, is portable, and awesome? The answer is: a RAT. Now, before you start questioning my sanity (though I do, quite often), I need to explain about my pet history. My dad, when he was young, had just about any pet you can think of. You name them, his family had them. My mom’s side is a little more traditional…I think there was a golden retriever and maybe a cat. BUT! The important bit is that in my immediate family, we adopted more of my dad’s pet-keeping strategy. While I was growing up, we had cats (3, but only one at a time), a dog, a rabbit, two gerbils, two parakeets, a degu (cross between a chinchilla and a squirrel) and a rat. Guess which small animal was the universal family favorite? Whiskers, the tan-colored rat. He was seriously awesome. Would crawl good-naturedly all over you, and explore anything and everything. PLUS, all the neighborhood kids thought it was edgy and cool that we had a rat (well, he was my brother Lincoln’s, but Whiskers didn’t discriminate in his affection). We all cried at Whiskers’ funeral, and buried him with pomp and paper flowers in the backyard. Yes, I’m serious. With that kind of good experience, I thought, “Why not again?”

I got a friend to take me rat shopping (much to her chagrin, and trust me, she was trying to convince me to get a cat the whole time), and we looked at a couple of stores (I went the big-box store route). One I shall not name had rats basically just as snake bait, which was terrible, and we left in a hurry. The other had quite the selection: several different colors and sub-genres, including white, blue (really a slate gray), beige, Dumbo (ears on the side of the head), etc. I scoped them all out, and bought a smallish blue with the least-gross tail. I know that may not be the best selection method, but really, think about it. What is it that turns people a little green when you talk about rats? It’s the idea of the tail. Well, my little choice has a fairly decent one.

So I brought her home, named her Mellicent (means ’honey’ in French), or Melli for short, and we get along fine. She looks like Remy from Ratatouille, likes to sit on my shoulder or explore said small apartment, and I have a tiny companion to make me laugh and keep me sane.Everyone thinks I’m weird, of course. I am, I’ll admit that. But a pet rat is probably one of my less-weird decisions. And anyway, she grows on you. Several friends have admitted that their anti-rat prejudice was actually based on reputation, and they think Melli is either cute or at least tolerable. See for yourself!

More tales and adventures to follow, of course.


Ginny Larsen said...

can i just say that i love your blog. probably because it's just like listening to you tell a story... your voice really comes out (and i'm totally not just saying that cause i'm an English teacher).

and i love Melli :) nice picture too ;)

praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow your rats sound adorable!! Could I possibly use some of your pictures for my new site Rat Info ? If so could you post them on the Rat Forum to let me know I have consent? I would love to add them to out Cute Rat Pictures page!!!

There are also some really awesome Homemade Rat Toys tutorials if you wanted to make some super easy toys for your ratties.

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