Literally. Physical pain here, people. I got a new tattoo...first in about three years or so. It's really cute...a couple of rats. On my chest. Yeah, I'm crazy, but that's a whole other post.
Also, I'm nursing a very sore finger right now, as I got a rather vicious bite from my project rat who is having some "issues" adjusting to life as a pet. He and his brother were scheduled to be put to sleep due to their aggression issues. Thumper, the more aggressive of the two, has a broken tail due to human mishandling. Flower, his timid brother has yet to show any signs of aggression. And really Thumper shows more fear than aggression. They'll take yogies from my hand, but then they run back and hide. I got bitten tonight for pushing socialization just a bit too far.
He's bitten me three other times, all of which were my fault. At the shelter I reached into his igloo to grab a cornered rat, never a good idea. And the two other times I forgot to wash my hands after handling my other boys, and since they are so fearful, he reacted out of fear. And he's fast, and I'm not.
I also noticed tonight that he has a slight list to the right, which I'm hoping I didn't really see, because that added to aggression usually indicates a pituitary tumor, and there's not a whole lot you can do for a pituitary tumor in a rat. Lots of other tumors can be removed, but a pituitary tumor is basically a death sentence. Which would be heartbreaking because he's had such a crappy life. He's only a year old, and he's spent the last 6 months being mishandled by shelter workers who know nothing about rats.
You know, I know a lot of people will say, eh, it's just a rat. But this is an animal that was born because of human intervention, and has spent it's whole life at the mercy of human whims. I don't cry when I watch animal shows and the weak baby elephant dies or something like that. That's nature, and nature does what it does for a reason. But, when humans get involved in animal breeding and keeping we are basically being god. You have the power of life and death over your pet, and to not choose life, and a good one at that is just sadistic.
And doing what I do, as far as dealing with rat rescues (and hopefully, someday, other animals) I hear the lamest excuses for not taking care of animals. My least favorite is "Oh, I'm just too busy, now." What the fuck is that all about? You know, I wasn't doing anything exciting before, so I got this here animal to liven up my life, but now things are looking up, so kick rocks little rattie (or kitty, or puppy.) Aargh. Animals aren't just play things. You would never have a child and then say, you know this whole parenting thing puts a crimp in my fabulous life style, so I'm taking her down to the orphanage. She's pretty cute, so I'm sure she'll get adopted. Okay, actually some people do that too...but they're not people I'm inviting over to Sunday dinner, ya know what I mean?
So, bottom line...if you get an animal, you are responsible for that animal for the rest of your life. You don't get an out just because you got a boyfriend, or had a kid, or fuck, I don't know, any of the eight million other excuses people make to rationalize their shitty behavior. If you aren't willing to guarantee that come hell or high water you and Fido are in it together, then get your fuzzy animal fix by volunteering at a local rescue or shelter, and let Fido go to someone who is willing to make that commitment.
Oh...and spay and neuter your damn pets.