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I know, I talk about him all the time and you are probably SICK of hearing of Joshu. But I really want to talk about him again.

It is June, around 4 months since he passed, possibly more. My icon still holds the quick graphic art I have done of him the day after he passed. The day after. I havn't had anything become so hard for me to handle since my miscarriage years ago.

But yeah, I didn't want this to be sad. I wanted this to be how awesome he was. He was much more deserving of someone more knowledgable of rats than I was at the time. He was the rat that begat it all.

One day, my dad came over to visit. He went to a reptile show because my dad breeds snakes. I hate my dad, really ever since he yelled at me on a Thanksgiveing for liveing with an ex boyfriend who was wonderful to me at the time and only later developed to be a dud. But anyway, my dad was visiting. He brought over snakes to our house, and mice and of course RATS. I had no opinion of rats at the time other than knowing that when I was little, my cousin Jason had been bit by his rat incredibly hard and ever sicne then my mom was very afraid of rats. I didn't look until we were done with dinner, but this little tupperware container with a wire lid and aspen chips at the bottom was FULL of cute little fluff balls that were rats 5 or possibly even LESS weeks old! Maybe they weren't five looking back on it, I dare say they were 3 or 4 weeks old but one of them shone strong, a hooded rat with greyer fur then the other hooded rat there. My dad actually adviced if I saved one I better save two but at the time I had a hard enough time talking my boyfriend into one rat, let alone two and I was sooo fixed on having that one special shiny rat.

It was a long fight, well not a fight but an argument and it took all of my family and me to convince Chris that I should keep that one rat. Where would I put him?! I had no place for the thing. I knew nothing about him! Joshu came with me and lived for a couple of weeks in a tiny, WAAAY too tiny inclosure that is now the carrying case. Eventually he made it up to a 10 gallon aquarium. I feel so bad for what he went through in enclosure and I sooo wish I knew something at the time but you have to realise I never meant to happen apon a rat destined to be my dad's snake food D: He lead a better life than he would continueing to live in that tupperware container until he was put alive in the freezer to die of cold!

Joshu won my heart over quickly, but it became plain to see that he needed a friend. So I went out to the pet store next to the place I worked to get him Odin. I had gone quite a few times to peruse the rats never finding one that stuck and always slightly worried about their sneezing. I asked about it and they told me 'just a slice of orange juice clears it up!' they were rats in overcrowded conditions put into sight despite them being feeders! All put same sex. I didn't realise the horrors then, I STILL knew nothing.

But after a few days I finally talked Chris into allowing it and we got Odin. I was going for an albino before I saw this TINY rat, 4 weeks old I'm geussing, with only ONE eye. I knew he had to be with me, I felt so sorry for him. He sneezed so much when I got him home, he didn't sneeze before. I fed him his oranges (I know I know I was just listening to the pet store and was SOOO CLUELESS) and it died down after a while. He wasn't playful at all and it was incredibly disconcerting how he would poop so much when he was out. But he made Joshu so much happier.

A few weeks later, I found a dumbo in those tanks and he had to be mine. I reserved him and that is now Bastian.

So I brought a larger cage, still not large enough for all of them and they lived like that. When we moved was when things went down hill for Joshu. He started to have head tilt, he was clumsy and breathing hard. We took him to the slightly cheaper vet I hadn't tried yet. She didn't know what was wrong, couldnt tell what was wrong without x-rays. She listened with the stethascope and told me she couldn't hear his heart from the left side of his chest which was unusual, she could only hear from the right. Something was blocking her from doing so. She said it could just be the lice that was doing it, I just had noticed the lice the day before. She gave me invetermicin injections and told me to bathe my rats. BATHE THE INCREDIBLY SICK RAT! I did, thinking she was right. THIS was when I found these forums, wanting to cure my Joshu. Everyone told me this was rather unusual, you shouldn't give an incredibly sick rat a flea dip and expect it to get better. So I took him to my ferret's vet.

We went on a week of antibiotics that didn't work when we took the x-ray and found the mass. In that time Joshu was allowed to free range. Joshu LOOOVED being out and was out as much as possible. He loved me, he LOOVED my shoulder and only wanted to be near me. He would climb onto my couch and sleep, or fall asleep on my cat Inanna. I KNOW I KNOW all of you are probably freaking but I know my cat, I know her so well and I knew she knows who is my baby. This is a special cat that was raised by my ferrets. She knows tiny animals and groomed Joshu and loved him. She never hurt him. She never had a thought about hurting him because she knows he was special to me. I would freak out if I saw another rat do that now, and they are kept more tightly now but Joshu loved Inanna. I couldn't keep him from free ranging when he was about to die.

The x-ray came as soon as we could do it. The weather was CRAAAZY here and it came two weeks after the antibiotics ran out D: They found the mass, nothing they could do. That day when Joshu came back he was actually EATING! He was soooo much better, I had thought they had found something wrong. I thought we could beat them.

I started sleeping with him, first on the couch then I brought him to the bed. It was the next day he started deteriating much faster. He was gasping now, throwing himself around. I made the appointment as he wouldn't even take food frome the syringe anymore. That night he went to bed with us and that night he ran around gasping as I tried to calm him. I held him and tried to tell him many times that it was alright to go, it was his time. Then he took his last gasp and died in my arms.

I miss Joshu so terribly. I'm sorry, I am a little anebriated right now writing this but I needed too. He was the best rat. He was an awesome free ranger. He always waited for me. I know I didn't keep him well, I know I should of learned more but seeing him in that feeder bin awaiting a twisted fate, I had to take that shining loving soul. He was soooo sweet, the sweetest rat you could imagine. He loved everybody and everything. He even got a 'he's cute' out of my grandma who HATES rats.

Joshu, was my ambassador to ratdom. I wish he was here right now to see how good of a rat mommy I have learned to become and still strive to become. I wish he could see the HUGE came I built and eat the Harlan teklabs I feed them as he sleeps in the hammocks I made. I wish he could see how I'm now setting aside $20 a week from my meager wages for vet funds. I wish he could see that and be in my lap right now. He would take in Bert I know it, as Odin wouldn't.

Joshu, all my current rats thank you for being you and converting a ratless person to forever loving them.

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He sounds like he was a very special rat and will always have a very special place in your heart......
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