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Max a/k/a Maxie Rat was born the day Fuzzy Rat died July 15, 2013. We adopted Max as a two week old pup and fed her CMR formula with an eyedropper... First I thought she was too young to adopt, but my daughter pointed out she was in a snake food bin and not likely to survive there too long, so we went back the next day and took her home with us.

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For the first several weeks she slept with me on a towel and she quickly learned to wake me when she had to go potty... She was very loving and smart. Like Fuzzy Rat she was a bred for meat rat, from the same feeder bin.
Max had horrible luck... First Amelia snuck up on us and lunged at her when she was only about 3 weeks old. Amelia tried to carry her off and kill her but we caught her in time, but not before Amelia seriously pierced Max's flank... but Max quickly recovered... then Max got launched down a flight of steps onto a cement walk... she just bounced ran around in a few circles and was fine... then at the safe site my daughter ran off with her at heel and despite my warning to be careful, Max got stepped on at full run... when my daughter called me, Max was bleeding out the mouth and nose... I've never seen a rat recover from this kind of injury... but within a few hours Max was back on her feet and snugly again... I can't say if she was made out of super ball rubber or cast iron, but she was made out of tough stuff.

That's not to say Max ever forgot or forgave anything... We decided to do intros with Amela at the safe site.. Max was a natural shoulder rat, very much fearless, smart and calculating... She climbed up a tree, waited for Amelia to be on the ground under her and pounced... returning the nasty bite Amelia had lent her. We moved intro's into the house and Max lured Amelia under a low cabinet... Max was small and Amelia was huge, the confined space made for a pretty level battleground, the rats fought for over an hour out of my reach, but they came out as friends... Amelia was bigger and stronger, but Max wasn't going to be second fiddle to anyone...

One night Max moved out of my bed and into a metal cabinet, which was to be her home her whole life... she didn't do any damage around the house so we let her nest there...

Max passed her true shoulder rat final exam at the town's autumn fair. She was a bit reluctant when she saw the big crowd, but she did the fireworks show front row, walked at heel through the crowd, did several meet and greets and even rode around on the bartender in the beer garden for a while... We were so proud of her, she was well on her way to being Fuzzy Rat competent and capable...

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Then winter came and oddly Max became more and more reclusive, she started ignoring her commands and withdrew into her cabinet... Even Amelia started keeping more distance from Max and they lived mostly in separate nests. Yes, Max would still do meet and greets and sometimes seemed to enjoy a crowd, but overall she preferred to keep to herself, like a troll in her dark cabinet. Sometimes when we went places she would climb into the car's dashboard and not come out for hours... other times she would be at the car door when we opened it.... When we took her to the park, she liked to nap in the small evergreen trees, preferably in an empty birds nest. And after just a few minutes out exploring she would run back to the car... she could find the car from a pretty good distance, just like Fuzzy Rat could. I once had to remove the wheel well in a rain storm to get her out... once she climbed a thorny tree and went to sleep and if she spotted a yellow construction machine, you could consider her gone for at least an hour, but she never ran away, she did her own thing and she could be very stubborn...

Indoors she would pop out to chase the wild mice that came into the house in winter.. she never caught one, but it was fun to watch her try.... and I suppose it gave her a job to do she liked. It also got my rodent phobic wife on board with letting her live free range...

Imagine raising a beautiful little girl, a real honor student... sweet, loving and smart and then one day coming home to find her with purple hair, tattoos and piercings, painting her bedroom black... that's about what it felt like to us. Sometimes she would still come out and play, and sometimes she liked to explore when we took her places and she always had great manners in public, but then she would catch herself having too much fun and withdraw suddenly.

Amelia's passing didn't seem to affect her too much, but with her it was hard to tell, she really didn't give away much emotion by that time. A few months later when we adopted Cloud at 7 weeks old Max went completely off the rails clawing at the cage and huffing and snarling at her... Intros went badly, and I actually got bitten by Cloud who was most likely the alpha of her group where she lived before.... Max chased Cloud around the house for 3 weeks knocking over everything in sight.... After tearing Cloud's ear in one long free for all brawl in Max's cabinet the fighting was over and Cloud moved into Max's cabinet with her. They became best friends.

One night my wife accidentally kicked Max, the next morning all of the wire's to my wife's desk were slashed and Max and Cloud had to sleep in their cage most evenings after that... Max insisted on a sweet treat, then she would come out to go to her cage... No treat, no cage it was a fair deal.

Then a few months ago Max started growing mammary tumors... at least 4 of them. This is the same thing that happened to Fuzzy Rat. The rats came from the same commercial breeder, were most likely related and now had the same affliction... My daughter wrote Santa telling him she wanted medicine for Max for her Christmas gift. Naturally I did what I could to help Santa get the medication to shrink or kill the tumors, but the manufacturer delayed and finally refused to ship it... valuable time was lost. Thankfully Santa and I had a friend who could make the medication happen, but the same morning that the medication got here Max looked terribly drawn and old, she barely dragged herself out her cabinet and despite the first two treatments, went down hill fast... I stayed up with her, took her to bed again, and fed her with an eyedropper... but Max had used up all of her miracles. She was only a year and a half old and she passed away in about 5 days despite every heroic effort to stabilize her to give the treatment a chance to work...

My daughter was distraught when Max was sick and cried a few times when we thought we were losing her, but when Max finally passed away My daughter was oddly quiet... she commented softly that it hurt more to lose Fuzzy Rat and Amelia... as she never really got to know Max. Oddly that was what I was feeling too.

Max was an enigma, sometimes fun and sweet, but mostly fiercely independent. She was competent and confident but mostly she just wanted to be left alone. She learned to point and tap to tell us where she wanted to go, but generally she would point to her cabinet and tap to be put down. She would come out to say hi but not hang out for more than a few minutes at a time... And if you upset or offended Max she could disappear and avoid you, unless you were offering treats, for a week at a time. And she would clearly only take treats under protest... she was very easily offended...

I suppose we were both proud and exasperated of and at our big girl. Max was a very special rat, you had to respect her, but like the daughter with piercings, tattoos and black and purple hair not easy to understand and love.

Honestly, I know Max was sometimes very proud of herself and I know sometimes she had lots of fun and I honestly believe she loved us, but as her "dad" I suppose I'll never understand where we went wrong.

Since Max passed away, Cloud has taken over the job of family rat, she's quick to play and to snuggle now. She's the first one in the car and sits by the door ready to explore wherever we go, she's a bit shy around people but it's a new regime. Cloud can be stubborn, but she's openly affectionate and responds to attention and affection. She's a little bit ditsy, but she's also a smart rat, the kind of girl a dad can understand and appreciate. Cloud didn't miss a heartbeat and stepped right up into her new role.

We loved Max, but its been strangely hard to miss the troll in the cabinet. In time the good memories will persist and her peculiarities will fade in memory, the good and the amazing will outshine the odd and I think we'll actually miss her more. As Amelia could never step up to being our family rat, Max had to step into that roll at a very young age, practically from birth. It was a big responsibility, and she was top rat from just a few weeks old until she died. Overall she did a really good job even though I think she may have preferred to just live a quiet life out of the lime light. But for better or worse she lived life on her own terms, I think we could have given her better if she wanted it... but she was who she was.

Maybe there is a black and purple haired girl out there with tattoos and piercings reading this in her own hand crafted dungeon that gets Max... if so... feel free to share what I missed with me...

Suddenly I'm beginning to feel really sad... maybe it just doesn't matter any more whether I really understood her or how much she avoided snuggling or the times she was a spoiled brat, she was the little angel I hand raised as a pup, she was an accomplished true shoulder rat that made us proud, she was friends with Amelia and Cloud, she loved my daughter and me in her own way and despite some things, and partly because of everything else we loved her.... and she's gone and I'm really starting to miss her...

Vita brevis, sed amor aeterna est.
 

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Im so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful story about Max, brought me to tears.
 

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Lovely tribute, brought a tear to my eye as well. Rest easy on the other side.
 

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Excellent read, thanks so much for sharing! They're truly very extraordinary creatures, you have but to meet one to notice.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for your condolences. Somewhere on the other side of the rainbow bridge there's a pretty spectacular rat pack waiting for us when our time comes and Max has joined their number... Their work here done, they left us with a legacy of love and we are the better for it.

Great rats make better humans.
 
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