For most of the last hour I held little Prongs as he began the journey that would take him to the rainbow bridge.
Prongs is one of the prodigal sons. He is one of the boys who were returned home by our daughter. He seemed to have been waiting for her visit tonight.
Although time was beginning to show itself in Prongs he was still spry and loved to jump onto your shoulder once the door to the Ferret Nation he lived in was opened. He would often turn right around and jump back onto your shoulder after free range time. Tonight, after our daughter’s visit, Prongs seemed just a bit older than when she was here.
She had given him kisses and snuggled with him and he was happy. Although when I went to return him to his home with his brothers he appeared very tired, like he had used up all his energy waiting to see his Mama. Our daughter had been on vacation and had actually only returned a few hours before. Dinner with Mrs.R and myself; a visit with her boys; then, off to her friends. All was well in the world.
Prongs laid in my hands or arms … or hands … or arms. He was restless, then he was quiet, then restless, then quiet again. He took some water first from my finger tips then from the bowl I held to his lips. He became restless again, then quieted down to “help” me with some work. Once he got himself situated to see the screen he settled right in. About ten minutes later he nodded his head, took a deep breath and went on his way to the Rainbow Bridge.
Ratchet became Ratchetu when he came into our home. There will only ever be one Ratchet!
Ratchetu had lived in the same home as our three girls I wrote about here. He had lived alone and was troublesome to introduce to any of our other boys so he stayed in the same room but in his own habitat. This was only for a couple of months before the Blue Crew came home.
Turq, Shadow, Colby, and Tanzi were so young and they fit in so well with Ratchetu that he no longer needed to live alone. He had four baby boys to tend; and, along the way he earned his more common name. Rachetu became Papachu or simply Papa. He took great care of the blue boys. He made the best pillow and he always kept the peace.
Today Papa just didn’t seem quite himself. He was quiet. He would not eat, not even a special treat of cooked chicken. He would not drink. He just wasn’t interested and if one thing could be said about Papa … he was always interested in food! We set him up on the love seat in the living room to better keep watch. We did not believe it to be too serious but felt better about having him nearby.
Papa passed to the rainbow bridge around 4:30 in the afternoon while Mrs.R was petting him. It was peaceful and quiet … and his time.
That was the time, 5:21 AM, that Number 8 left for the Rainbow Bridge.
He was our “old man rat” for the longest time. Thin, a little slow moving, but still with a good appetite and an attitude. He snuggled on his terms, and his terms only.
Mrs.R and I had been expecting this for the last few days, maybe a week. Unfortunately we are starting to see these signs more clearly when the bridge is calling for these “old man rat” boys. They start getting quieter. They sleep just that little bit more. They take just that little bit longer to eat. Its almost as if they are savoring the last little bit of time they have with us before going to be with their brothers and sisters.
Mrs.R stayed with him or he stayed with her, depending on your perspective, last night as we were fairly certain it was time …
… a few minutes after 5:30 Mrs.R woke me. Number had passed. She whispered it was 5:21 when he left and I thought to myself … 8.
On Sundays I usually clean the girls’ habitats. Today being a Sunday did not start off all that differently than any other Sunday. I woke early. I did the human laundry first thing. I addressed Turq’s ongoing issue with his hind foot. I made sure all the rats got their daily breakfast. Beef Stroganoff was today’s flavor.
Mrs.R and I then went out to buy our weekly groceries, plus running a few other errands … little did we know this Sunday would be different than so many already passed.
Once we put everything up, and ate a nice lunch in our newly cleared solarium, I continued with more of our Sunday rituals.
The big girls home, a double ferret nation, is usually first and again today was no different. Although the eight girls that live there usually are spread throughout the levels today they were all in the lower half. As I was removing dirty linens and other nesting materials and pulling out boxes, ramps, shelf and litter trays I also collect up the girls and take them out to the living room where Mrs.R can keep an eye on them while I concentrate on cleaning. Our little Pretty Girl, as we had taken to calling Wall Flower, was particularly quiet and passive as she lay on her side when I found her under one of the bottom huts. I carefully carried her to the sofa and set her gently down, she scurried under the blankets we put out for them to sleep in when its cleaning time. The rest of the cleaning continued as uneventfully as any other Sunday, except for the new doll bed we found at our local Goodwill store which Mrs.R cleaned and made ready for the girls.
Once both habitats were fit for the return of their residents Mrs.R started taking the girls back to their respective homes. Pretty Girl was hungry so she was left with a few pieces of food from the sofa bowl to nibble on while her sisters were shown their new toy. After Cat and the four white girls were taken back to their home Mrs.R checked on Wall Flower and … well, it was becoming quite obvious … we knew her time was coming, we just came to the realization it was today.
Wall Flower laid on my chest for about an hour or so until she quietly passed just after 6:00 pm. She was peacefully laying, I’d like to think dreaming, as she gave one of those all too familiar pet dreaming twitches only to take her last breath with it, and as I felt a faint vibration in her chest she left for the Rainbow Bridge.