Cleaning Bernadette's cage today put me in a reflective mood. I filled her area with warm hammocks, interesting places to climb and fresh toys. Six people live on this 5' banquet table with 2 open cages. Every time I clean a cage, I change things a little.
When I finished, Bernadette was at the end of the sofa, waiting. Some of them know when I've finished and they wait, eagerly, to see the changes.
I sat and watched her check out every toy, climb through every tunnel and test the beds. Twice she came back to me to thank me and offer her approval.
Next was little Sammy, then Jack Frost and Bartholomew. Each of them spent a good 10 minutes exploring.
Last I went to get Irene and Mocha. I found them together, under a blanket, Irene lying across Mocha's back...a young boy making a soft place for a senior. I sat and watched them for a few minutes, remembering. Bernadette and Irene are nearly 2 years old. When they arrived, they were with 2 cage mates, who later died. Then they were introduced to Buddy, who also died. Then they lived with Tot and Pongo, who were adopted.
Finally, I chose four "sanctuary" rats to stay and be their companions, because Bernadette and Irene are permanent residents. Bernadette wanted nothing to do with anyone else. Now she can be found curling up with each boy, in turn, on any given day.
Irene has always loved everyone else. She came from a very sad background...it took months to get her to trust us enough to let us pick her up. To see her contentedly snuggled with her young companions and know that she will have companionship for the rest of her life is such a comfort, as it is to be able to give her a good life in many other ways.
I would be happy to live out my last days with the kind of life these older rats have...surrounded by friends, caretakers, entertainment, warmth and good food. May every senior citizen of every species have opportunity for similar blessings!