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She came to me named Tenzo, August 2013 -- I consider that her birthday. I didn't know much about her other than she was alone at the humane society in a 5-10gal tank and they thought she was about 1 year old. I picked her up and she was so fat and old I didn't want her to be there alone. I decided to take her home. I also decided to abandon the name "Tenzo" for a newer one -- Tenzo was a biting rat and the name of a chef monk -- she was not gonna be fat nor was she male, so I decided a new name. My rats are all greek names, so she was named "Iris": personification of the rainbow, messenger for gods, link between god and mortal man. Or my fat blind mean rat.

It started rough. She was drawing blood almost constantly. I cried a lot in the beginning. Then we made a breakthrough, where she wouldn't bite as much. I took her to the vet where she was put on a diet and was declared blind and partially deaf (she was also guessed to be closer to 2 than 1). Huh. We had a few milestones since then. Bites that no longer drew blood. Less bites. Bites only in direct response to stimuli. There were happier milestones; letting me pet her; bruxing for me; sleeping when I pet her.

I was warned against introing her to my babies and my other rats but decided to do so anyway. I can hardly call it an introduction when she was immediately accepted. She even faked that the others were dominant over her. She was also Aunty Iris, though acted more like a grandma. When I adopted Ophelia, she even let this midget baby rat overpower her. If Caius wasn't mama rat, Iris would've been.

We really bonded in March 2014, when she had an emergency spay for uterine tumors in the middle of the night and a rough recovery. That's when she would let me hold her. I cried.

Her favorite things in life were cuddling, eating, nesting, and grooming. She was always a warm friend and a calm friend to her mischief. Even when they outgrew cuddling her, she still was there for whomever needed her. If anyone was in the hospital cage, I always let Iris join them.<br><br>In October, she lost her best friend Caius. In January, she lost Athena for whom she was caring for. In February, her second close friend Remus passed away. My friend thinks that with the mischief growing up past her and her friends leaving, it was hard to fight...

As her time approached, she began to be more reclusive to the mischief. She became less driven to nest and find food. Her old age began to show in earnest. This is when my heart broke. She and I weren't close, but she allowed me to care for her. If I can, I'll post a video of her bruxing for me, scratching her leg when I itched the right spot, and communicating with me where she wanted to go - left, right, under the covers, on my lap.

Her whole life with me spanned nearly 1.5 years. We spent the time as roommates, then became friends. In the end, she let me be caretaker when she was such an independent rat. I like to think this was her concession to me when she knew she was leaving.

I'm a little sad to discover how little my picture library of just her is. In most photos, she is sleeping, cuddling, eating or what have you in the background. I've given her friends her favorite treats and a few kisses. She never got to play outside as she probably would've hated it or maybe she wouldve gone crazy eating and nesting. She did get to play with grass which she devoured. It was around that time she first groomed me (you guessed it, I cried). She starred in my speech video hours before her life ended. Thank you. http://imgur.com/a/CmAdQ
 

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As I've said before, it takes a lot of courage to listen to them when they say it's time; but it takes so much more to do what they ask when it's time. You gave her a wonderful life. You gave her love, you showed her kindness, you gave her a family, and you didn't give up on her in the beginning when so many others would.I'm sorry for your loss, I truly am. She's a beautiful girl and you can see how much she's loved, and how much she loved you.
 
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