Rescue Rats Are Winners, Too!
From the September/October 1997 Rat & Mouse Gazette
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cloudy. I am a "Rescue Rat" and a very lucky one. I was in the "Rescue Cage" at the Rat and Mouse Club of America's show in Hacienda Heights, California, on February 22, 1997, with many of my sisters, waiting for the right person to take us home. I didn't think I would ever get a family.
Many of my family members were left in a hospital parking lot in an RV. My human companion didn't mean to leave us there, but it was becoming clear he was getting weaker and could no longer care for us. We did not see any humans for a couple of days and we were wondering if someone would ever come back to feed us. We were a worried bunch of rats and were getting very hungry. Finally, someone opened the door of the RV. Hooray! We are going to get food and water. Oh no! The humans say we smell bad.
Drawing by Amber Cox
We are taken to a place where all kinds of animals are kept. People come and look at us, mostly with disgust, and then look at the "cute" dogs and cats. Once in a while, someone takes out a dog or cat to play with, but not us rats. Sometimes the humans leave with an animal and say they are going some place called home. Frequently, one of the workers will pick up an animal with a sad face and we never see it again. I miss my human companion and wonder when he is going to come back to get us. At least we have food, water, and we smell better.
A few days later, a lady came in who did not go directly to the dogs or cats. Why, she is looking at us! Her shirt has the letters "RMCA" on it. I wonder what that means? She says she can only take forty of us and there are many more of us than that. Oh, I hope she picks me. She picks us up one by one, looking us over. Yes! I am picked up, and it feels so good and they take ME.
Life is good at her house. She has many rats and other creatures and my sisters and I are treated great. She has people come over every so often and they take some of my sisters home. I am so happy for my sisters because the people want them and recognize how wonderful we are. I like living here with the RMCA lady and all her animals, but I have been here a couple of months now. I am worried I will not find my own human person to love, but I am not alone, I still have many sisters in my cage with me.
On February 22, 1997, (this is a special day for me) the RMCA lady put me and my sisters in the car with many of her other rats and she took us to this big place where many other rats brought their human companions. The other rats and the smaller ones, the mice, are whispering that this is a rat and mouse show. We keep hearing humans call for "Sweetest Rats" or "Best Pet Mouse" and other things like that to come up to these large tables. The humans put their little furry companions in these small clear boxes and a person takes them out one by one and looks at them. Then the human puts a gold color object, called a trophy, on one of the clear boxes and many different color ribbons on some of the other boxes. Someday, I want to go in one of those boxes and be held and looked at.
Throughout the show, the RMCA lady tells many people about me and my sisters. Some people come over and peek at us. Some humans take my sisters out and a few do not return them, because they have found their human companions to go home with. The cage door is opened again. "We need a big rat", the lady said to her daughter, Amber. They take out my little sister. The RMCA lady reassures Amber's mother that all of us are disease free and are not pregnant.
Amber's mother keeps reminding her that Salem likes to pick fights with other rats. Amber puts my little sister back in the cage. I try to make myself look as big as possible. Amber is reaching for me. I'm in her hands. "How 'bout this one, mom? She's pretty big." I was carried around for a long time and then put in a cage by myself. I was taken out again and again - it seemed like a million times! I like the way these humans talked and petted me.
They took me to the RMCA lady and told her I would be going home with them. I think I'm what's called adopted, but my story does not end here. The human nother wanted to name me Alice, after her favorite rock group, and Amber wanted to call me Cloudy. The human daughter won and my name is Cloudy. The Cox family took me home and I found out I was not the only rat they had. The only boy is in another cage and is funny looking; he has no fur. My cage mates are four other female rats. The human mother was right, Salem likes to pick fights with other rats, so it was good I'm a big girl. Salem got so bad that the humans put her in a place called "jail". Jail is where we stay by ourself. Salem is there almost all of the time. My human family loves and plays with me a lot and I love it here.
Recently, I got very scared. My human family took all of us in the car to another rat and mouse show in April. At first I thought they were going to try to get someone else to adopt me, but I"m glad I was wrong. One of my cagemates was put in one of those little boxes and placed on the table for nother human to look at. When she came back, she had a white ribbon on her cage. The humans were so proud of her. My sisters and my Hairless brother congratulated her, too.
What is this! The human mother is putting me in one of those little boxes and telling me it will only be for a few minutes and that I am a winner no matter what happens at the judging table. There are several of us on the table. My little box is opened and I am taken out. This person keeps doing something to my tail. I don't like it, but she is nice, so I let her put my tail by my face. She puts me back in my box and does the same thing to the rest of us. Oh, no, she is taking me out again and looking at my tail again. She comments on how long my tail is and then puts me back in my box. She looks again at my friends on the table. Now she is mixing up the boxes and putting them in some sort of order. Another human is getting the ribbons and a gold trophy out. They placed all the ribbons on the boxes and on my box was the beautiful gold trophy!
I'm Cloudy, a rescue rat, and I won a trophy for having a long tail and I have humans who I love and who love me. I can't believe how lucky I am. My human companions are so proud of me and my sisters and brother (that Hairless guy). We are all winners, but I was glad to get back in my cage and go home and have a normal life again. At least until the next rat and mouse show.