Saturday, 23 November 2013



Oh, I had to take Houdini the rat to be put down yesterday and it was awful. Of course it was mainly awful for the rat, but I found myself very weepy, even though until he got sick, the rat cordially hated me and everyone else. When I read about people's pets having to be put down, they know exactly when it's time. I did not know when it was time at all. It was fucking awful. He looked really dreadful yesterday morning (despite my feeding efforts, he obviously couldn't get enough food and was skin and bone, and terribly shaky on his pins), but when I put him in the box to go to the vets he looked all perky for a moment and I just didn't know if it was right or not. When we got there he looked dreadful again, and there was a sort of sore on his chin I hadn't noticed. I don't know. I didn't know with Satan either. Do you eventually get a feel for this when enough of your pets die? Shit.

 Anyway, crap rite of passage #278 completed: getting your child's pet put down. I still feel a bit shit about the whole thing, even though it was definitely more or less time, give or take a day either way, and I feel awful for the remaining rat, who presumably needs a new friend (though apparently adult males are the worst kind at making new friends). I also feel even more tenderly than usual towards Prog Rock who during my childhood came in for a whole HEAP of ailing pet action/abscess tending/demise, which I can't imagine he ever thought would be part of the equation when he fell in love with my mother.

When I called the vet up and asked when was quiet (I didn't want the poor bugger to suffer unnecessary trauma from fat hypoxic bulldogs, like last time), they told me I could come anytime, since they had a "special room". I was hoping for something like the relatives' room on Casualty, with black and white photographs and boxes of tissues, but no, it was like this:

..which was disappointing.

Houdini is currently in a box in the cellar waiting for T to come home from science. We have dug a hole. I hope not to have to repeat this imminently, but rats do have a short lifespan, so I am prepared (am I?).

My wicked and delightful friends M, B and F were a very great, dark hearted comfort in the last day or so. B made me a photo montage of me holding the surviving rat aloft in the manner of the last scene of the Lion King, based on a suggestion from M.

F told me she could easily send me a new one from the subway. "You can call him C Train". B poured cold water on this suggestion.

""They’re big f*ckers.  You think weepette has anxiety now?  Within three days, it'll have a teardrop tattoo and be referring to itself as the rat’s prison wife"

If anyone asks me what my friends are best at, "making me laugh about awful stuff" will be really high up the list.

L is taking it well. He said a brief goodbye to the scrawny rat-in-a-box, we both had a little cry and when I got back he was basically ok. We shared a manly shoulder clench, then he went and watched Top Gear and I drank an enormous glass of red wine. I think he had done his grieving already. Is it ridiculous to get this sad about a rat? I don't know. F was an odd mix: appalled and embarassed at me expressing emotion (I remember feeling this about my parents), clear headed ("c'était mieux pour lui, it was for the best", he told me afterwards. He thought it was time, at least) and not really that bothered.

In not entirely animal related news, someone has just recommended a balm that prevents cows udders from freezing as a face cream on our Facegoop winter skin post, and this delights me.


Also, tenuously, on a pet theme, but this tickled me hugely, stupidly today:


Marina Carstens said...

I read an article once about a woman who took in a stray dog but had to get rid of it because it didn't get along with the dog she already had. She cried more than she cried when her mom died and her psychologist told her that sometimes it's easier for us to cry for animals than for people. I don't know when or where I read that, but I've thought about it every once in awhile when I miss my family's dogs at home. So, what I'm trying to say is, I think it's normal to cry for an animal. But I don't think it only happens to get out stored up unshed tears over past tragedies, I think we can actually just cry for animals. Sorry you had to put your family pet down today. I still remember taking one of our dogs in after she got hit by a car. I had her covered with a colorful afghan blanket. I must've been about five years old. :/

Esme Weatherwax said...

I'm afraid that this post will precipitate a deluge of dead pet stories masquerading as empathy. Here's mine:
It's about burying a great big dead dog (Will aka Mister Woof, protector of small feathery things, eater of small furry things and strangely excited by the words "James Robertson Justice" intoned solemnly at him) in full rigor in icy ground in a thunderstorm without a tape measure or pick axe or adequate depth perception because of all the crying with pain and laughter because the gorgeous nurky bastard was still a pain in the arse after death and getting the long hole extension for his enormous tail repeatedly wrong and contemplating snapping it to fit just so's the trauma would end..finally slipping in the mud and landing on top him..and being glad of the supportive effect of rigor so it was less crunchy/squishy than otherwise. Then our other dog dug him up in a howling, heartbroken, grieving frenzy. Dear god, that was a day..errm maybe when your other rat josses it I'll tell you about being the emergency contact for all my friends' coffin dodging animals when they go on holiday and the inevitable circus of death which ensues every time they pack their bloody skis..

Hugs and love, you wonderful woman xxxxx

Lucy Campbell said...

aaah sad - my brothers used to have rats - amusing to think of you weeping at vets with all the cats and dogs and you with your rat...(well not actually amusing, but you know what I mean)

Ellie said...

I grew up with a tin of Bag Balm on the kitchen windowsill my whole life. Nice green vintage-looking boxy tin. I don't recall ever using it, but it's exactly the sort of thing my mother would keep around. For all I know that tin may still be there.

So sorry about your rat. My friend has been having ferrets with pancreatic tumors. I am glad that your children are taking it well, though.

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Fat Controller said...

It could be worse. Daughters' rats (originally six of them took to ganging up on the weakest and eating it until there was only one left then that died (presumably of surfeit of rat).

Waffle said...

Fat Controller - GAAAAAH THAT IS TERRIBLE (and also made me laugh).

Patience_Crabstick said...

Bag Balm! My mother swore by it as a cure for all things dermatological. I'd forgotten about it, but now I am convinced it will heal my psoriasis. Off to order some.

Loops said...

Oh sympathies! My budgie died very suddenly 2 months ago (he was 13!) - in a darkly comical, literally dropped dead off his perch fashion. Me and my Son (17) burst into tears sporadically for weeks.

Friends that can make you laugh at shit stuff are the best

junebug said...

Speaking of mournful,
I admire your brain, your way with words, and I have been reading your blog for years, but can I just say, the best thing to come out of your head is Weepette forlornly looking for Moscow.

Anonymous said...

Might have saved yourself the trip and cost of a vet and taken care of things yourself at home.

I will go ahead and apologize for that - I'm sorry. I'm sorry for your loss, truly, even if I can not stand rats. It must be hard to become attached to one and watch it suffer and ultimately die. :(

Anonymous said...

Dear Belgian Waffle:
Wishing you a wonderful, wonderful birthday filled with lots of happy moments and plenty of cake and reading (of the book in bed kind and not the texts for work kind). Thank you for your marvellous writing and for all the times you've made me laugh (and cry, think and reflect)over the last few years.

Word verification is "obitron", which is oddly appropriate following the sad demise of your little pet ;)

Waffle said...

Junebug - HA. Thunder stolen by hound. 'Twas ever thus.

Anon 1 - I did actually look it up "humane home rat euthanasia" speculatively (baking soda! vinegar! A sealed Tupperware box!) and gave up immediately.

Anon 2 - Thank you so much, what a lovely thing to say xxxx

kath said...

When is it time for the trip to the vet? When you feel like you are keeping them alive for yourself. When it's just gone that little bit too far while you haver and you feel like a monster. Any sooner and you wouldn't be sure.

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Most people don't know when it's time. Putting down a pet is awful for the person.

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