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Hi,

Last night I had to put my very first rat, Ruby, to sleep. She was the very first animal that I've had full responsibility over, including deciding when it was time for her to go, and I'm...slightly traumatized I think? Does anyone out there reading this have any advice for dealing with loss? (I'm sorry if I'm about to type out a novel, but I think it'll really be helpful for me to type out my thoughts and emotions.)

I knew that logically it was the best time for her to go--she had been growing two mammary tumors since early October, which had recently begun to abscess and rupture. I had been watching her so carefully to see if she could still enjoy the things she loved doing, and until pretty recently she refused to let the tumors prevent her from enjoying life. The abscessed wound on her tumor was getting to be really hard to keep clean, and I'm fairly certain if it had gone on for another week she would have been in serious discomfort/pain. I don't know, even still, despite all this, when I had her in the vets office I had to keep stopping myself from telling them I had made a mistake and taking her back home (even though I could tell she was uncomfortable).

And when I returned home alone last night I was filled with guilt and regret. I wish with all of my heart that I provided for her as best a life as I could. I upgraded everything, food/cage/etc., to the best available, tried to give her at least an hour of free-roam per day, took her in to the vet on an almost monthly basis for most of her life for teeth issues, and also tried to provide toys so her in-cage time was more exciting (even though neither of my girls liked the wheel, chew blocks, fluff boxes, or literally any toy that I've ever brought home haha). But I still am worried that I just could have done more, does anyone know what I mean? Plus, I was sick to my stomach with the fact that I just gave some stranger permission to end her life! It felt so wrong.

Everything in my daily life is just...different without her presence. And I'm just so sad about this.
On Saturday I think I'll go to the beach to collect beautiful rocks to make a little heart decoration on her gravesite.
The vet's office gave me a card with her footprints on it (and attached flowers to her box, which I thought was a very nice touch). I can't look at the card without crying!

Anyway, thanks for reading. It actually feels so good to type all of this out. I'm so grateful to have known such a bold, independent, and caring individual. My favorite memories of her include how obsessed she was over food of any sort, and the lengths she would go to get just a bite of anything, and how thoroughly she would groom me and her cage mate. It was so sweet (and honestly kind of painful) how she would use her teeth to really scrape away the dirt on my hands/arms/even behind my ears! Oh, and how everywhere she walked, she went with such purpose--I'll never forget!
 

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It's hard to let go of any pet or loved one. My best advice in any of it is to simply cherish your memories. You did not simply give a stranger permission to end her life. You allowed Ruby to pass away peacefully instead of in pain. You allowed her a calm death, and one in the caring arms of vets and vet techs. They may be strangers, but they love and cherish animals, otherwise they would not work the jobs they do. Remember that her best interests were always in your heart and mind, and even if it was a 'wrong' decision, Ruby would know you only meant to make things better for her. She would never resent you or feel anger towards you. You were her mischief-mate. You were the caring hands that cleaned her wounds and fed her and played with her. She has no reason to be mad at you or resent you.

Upgrading your items to the best available, while a nice thought, wouldn't have made her life 'better' per say. She had a good cage, a caring mom, and friends to play with. The things that enrich any animal's life is not the things but the memories, the good times, the friends with them. You gave her those. An hour out of the cage a day is awesome, and even if it was shorter at times you were giving her the time you could. And that in and of itself says volumes about how much you care. You put her high on your priority list. There's so few reasons to feel guilt, friend.

I know you will never forget your dear friend Ruby, but know that it does get easier to focus on the happy.

Best wishes,
Water
 

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Thank you <3
Your words mean a lot. I appreciate your perspective on the vets office--it helps to think of it that way.
Looking forward to easier times.
 
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