His New Forever Home Adventure

Updated 07/10/2012

So, here is a portion of what Hilary told me about Puppy. Odd name huh? I wonder how he got it...

Here are the first few communications from Hilary to me about Puppy -

1st communication - Lizzy suggested I contact you about a rat who needs a home and, unfortunately, a neuter. He belongs to Stephanie, a former RatsPacNW member. The rat, Puppy, is very aggressive and cannot be housed with other rats. Steph is getting him back after a re-homing attempt gone terribly wrong. I am over my bitey rat limit. Would you or anyone you know be interested in him? He is a huge black hoodie and will be a great squishy boy once his testosterone is lowered.

2nd communication - Fantastic! Puppy hasn't been quarantined but I don’t think he’s much of a risk. He is about 8 mos old and has had 4 owners. I don’t know who Stephanie got him from, but she adopted him as a juvenile and he is now nearly full grown. She recently re-homed him to a woman who misrepresented her intentions. The woman said she would neuter Puppy, but traded him to a breeder for breeding stock instead. Steph is in the process of getting him back from the breeder. Can you imagine a breeder wanting an aggressive rat? Steph figures it must be a commercial breeder who wants Puppy for his size. He is quite a handsome guy and was very friendly till his hormones kicked in.

3rd communication - I just got back from picking up Puppy. He looks to me to be about 5 mos old rather than the 8 mos I originally thought. The fact that he started biting so young makes me think this may be less of a hormonal issue and more stress related. He was living in a house with other animals (cat and dog) and a baby who could get right up to his cage, and I bet they scared him to death. He was then adopted out to another person with kids and pets, then to a feeder breeder who was about to feed him to his snake! He must be a really messed up little guy right now, so I’m glad he’s going to someone who knows how to handle him.

4th communication with a photo - Here he is! He is lively and inquisitive with the sweetest little face.


5th communication - (Yep, I ask a lot of questions) - He hasn’t lunged at me or made any threatening advances. Not even when I put a tissue box in his cage. He has certainly taken chunks out of people, though. Both Stephanie and her fiance have been badly bitten, as well as the adopter, but she deserved it. LOL!
I don’t think that transferring cages will be difficult. He’ll probably just hop from one to the other. If not, I keep a blanket in the car for just such occasions.
Don’t know why he’s called Puppy. With his great personality I’m sure you’ll be inspired to think of something more appropriate. Thanks again for taking him and giving him a shot at a happy life.

Here is a photo journey of Puppy. Please be patient while the images load and if you click on an image. it will take you to the larger version. Hit the back button to get back to the photo page.

----------- 01/15/2011----------

So we met. I had a cage big enough for him to be in alone with a new standard hide 'n peek hammock and a large Comfy Cozy Rattie Tube (no, wasn't really doing a product plug here, honest), food and water. He will get toys and other items to chew on as time goes by, but I didn't want to overload his senses. We transferred him just fine into the new cage. It seemed like he was really curious and didn't take too long before he was in his new home inspecting everything. No puffing up or hissing or any signs of hostility. Then I realized, in my excitement, that I had left the food bowl inside the ziploc. So I opened the door and reached in and... no interest in my hand as I took out the food bowl. He just watched for a brief second and went back to exploring. I removed the ziploc and replaced the bowl. Again, no moves towards me. I only earned a passing glance from him. He was much too excited at the new digs.

Hilary and I talked a bit letting him get used to the new home. Then we said our goodbyes and I buckled him in. Yep, I buckled in the cage. You never know when you might have to stop short and I wouldn't want him flying forward possibly getting hurt.

On the way home he settled down to cleaning himself up. He positioned himself in a funny way to get to his back feet which made his tail stick out of the cage on my side. I gently stroked it and then he realized I was touching him. He stopped what he was doing and watched me. Probably wondering if I was going to pull on it. But I didn't and just stroked it. Then he repositioned himself again bringing his tail inside and giving me a look like, "OK, that's enough. Maybe you can pet me more later, I will think about it." and then went back to cleaning himself.

Once home, I had to get him past our dogs. We have three and my daughter's dog was just dropped off for a visit while she went to Canada for the weekend making 4 to get past. Once past the 4 barking dogs and into my quiet office he settled down. He started to rearrange the litter tossing some of it out of the cage at me of course. I quietly put back this litter on another end when he wasn't looking. He ate some food and then rearranged some more. And every now and then I feel like I am being watched. I turn around and there he is, on the corner closest to me - just staring at me probably wondering am I for real? Someone who sits with him and talks to him? Probably wondering when he will be moved again.

It's a shame I can't speak rat and tell him that he has found his forever home and won't ever be moved again.

A little later today - I offered a Vitakraft Strawberry Drop (bigger than yogis) through the bars to Puppy and he sniffed it first and the very gently took the drop from my fingers and ate it. I would love to know what was being done at the time of the previous bites. ie. reaching into the cage with him in there or reaching for him, picking him up or what? It would help me to know a little better on where to start on the familiarizing process.

Oh... and just now he ever so gently took fresh peas from my fingers. Talk about small...But he was ever so gently at taking them and eating them.

My husband suggested the name of Spartacus who was a gladiator in an arena and this little guy was going to be a Gladiator in an arena with a snake. What a picture. Can you picture him with that leather skirt and a sword? Kind of like the Mouse Knight story.

There is a photo of Puppy in his new Hide 'n Peek Hammock on his photo page. Right now he is enjoying quiet time getting used to his new surroundings. He hasn't figured out the pockets yet, but given time I am sure he will. He seems to be a very smart little guy.

He comes to the side of the cage when I come in. It is so tempting to open the cage and pet him. He just looks like he wants it. But then, so did Romeo at first once he got his own cage and I found out very quickly that I shouldn't try petting him so fast - ouch!

Last thing - he bruxed at me and boggled. I was making my "bruxing" sound I have learned to do to get mine to brux back at me with and low and behold - Puppy responded with bruxing back and boggling. He was ohhh so cute.


This morning he ran from the hammock where he was when I turned on the light to the corner of the cage closest to the door. He waited there like he wanted something. I got out the yogurt treat and the sound of the bag seemed to get him excited. Look - he is already training me! haha

I see that he has started to "re-design" his hammock. But not very much. Just a few nibbles here and there. Mostly they look like he was testing it out.

Well, time for me to make breakfast and I will make extra for him. Welcome to the world of being spoiled little guy. :-)


So this morning Puppy was bouncing around in excitement as I entered the room. Almost like he still has some pop-corning left in him. I knelt next to the cage as I have been so my face was close to his and he started to throw his litter out at me. So I stuffed it back in the cage. He then pushed it back out at me. We played this little game for about 5 minutes. That was when I noticed that he did some more redesigning of his hammock - like the complete removal of a strap off his hammock. So now it is connected by three straps. When that happens, I usually leave it that way since the hammocks I make have pockets. And sure enough, he has it in such a way that he can rest in the pocket. So maybe his design was on purpose.

I offered him a green bean which he nibbled but wasn't exactly thrilled with. Then I offered him a piece of my toast with plain cream cheese on it. He grabbed that and backed away with it and continually licked it until he got all the cream cheese off it and left the toast. Silly Boy.

Now I have the staring eyes on my back. And whenever I look back at him right now he is at the cage door. Oh, if he didn't have a history of biting I would ever so quickly open that door and swoop him up and give belly rubs and kisses. He just looks like he wants attention - but I also see hesitation when I approach. And that "Pop corn" type of behavior is just another sign of his being unsure of me. It isn't the completely playful type like little ratties do - it is more of a this is my turf type of hopping around darting all around the cage.

But when sitting next to the cage making the noises I usually get responses with, he settles down facing me and then bruxes quietly back at me. We are making progress.


Progress is being made. He loves to play when I come into the office in the morning. He darts around and then we play "push out the litter". This is the game where he pushes out the litter and I put it back and we see who makes the most mess. None of the times when I was stuffing it back in did he make a move for my finger. Sometimes I wonder if he is a biter or just gets too excited when he is playing. Only time will tell.

I opened the cage up to get out the hammock. He decided to try it without two of the straps holding it. He must not have liked that design as he wasn't in it when I opened the door. So I put in my arm to unhook the hammock and pull it out. He got very excited - but agitated no. I put holes in the corners of the missing straps and new hooks to reattach the straps he chewed off and put the hammock back in and reattached it. He looked so happy to have it back - but then I realized he was just happy to have interaction time with someone. So we played some more.

I left the cage door open and place my sweatshirt covered arm down in front laying on the table for him to sniff. First he sniffed and then tried to pull me into the cage by pulling at my sleeve. But whenever he grabbed my sweatshirt, I would squeak. He dropped my shirt immediately each time. Then he came out a little farther to sniff more of my arm by putting his front paws on my arm. I didn't want him coming out too far just yet. I wouldn't want to have to dart to catch him if he decided to make a run for it as that would just ruin all the work so far.

When he decided to go back inside his home, I closed the door and gave him a yogurt drop. He didn't really want it and stayed in the corner of the cage closest to me. I feel bad for him - he so wants the attention. Maybe he will come around a lot sooner than Romeo did. So I stayed there by the cage talking with him. He settled down snuggled in the corner as close as he could to me and started to close his eyes while I talked about anything I could think of.

He looks soooo healthy. No sniffing, sneezing, watery eyes, his coat looks great, he loves to clean himself. All in all - a very handsome young man.

He does love to sleep with his head tucked under him like he is getting ready to do a somersault. When I first saw this, I couldn't tell which end was his head. Like an armadillo sleeping. Would Dillo be a good name? I will have to see what he thinks when he wakes from his nap.


Well, I wasn't around when he woke from his nap later. But I was around later last night to play some more with him but I forgot to ask about a name. Now it is mid afternoon and all the 4 legged critters are sleeping. Yes! Sometimes I feel like a young Mom again after the infant has finally laid down for its nap.


Well - we played our morning game of pushing the litter up against the front door. He is so funny. And he does know the sound of the yogurt drops bag already. I hold it below the table and just krinkle it and he jumps to the door and waits. Then he gently takes the drop from my fingers. What a funny guy.

There is a pic of his door after his litter rearrangement on his photo page.

More later....


So I opened the door this morning and placed my sleeved arms on the table right in front of the door as I have been. He was curious and actually tried to walk out onto my arm. Then he got the jumping-bean-itis started and quiet time was over. Not sure what triggers that but that is when he starts the pushing of the litter towards the door.

I did open the yogurt drops bag and let him reach in on his own to get a drop. Wanted to see how brave he was to go that far into the bag. He did it.

He keeps watching me while I am in here. When he gets sleepy I can sit beside the cage and he comes to the corner where I am and snuggles as close as he can along that corner where I am and starts to doze off. If I stay long enough, I can eventually get up quietly and leave turning off the light on my way. He is so cute when he is sleeping.


Mark this day in your calendar everyone! Puppy was out of his cage and let me pet him! Wahoo! Jumping around in excitement here! Can you see me? Yay! Can't you tell I am excited?

So - this is what happened -

I opened the door as I have been. He was sleepy, which is when I like to attempt anything with a biter. He yawned and slowly made his way to the open door. Then he realized it was open and stood on the frame of the door. He investigated the frame of the door and then my arm. I had shorter sleeves so most of my lower arm was bare to him. I alowed him to sniff my closed hands hiding tempting fingers. He, like all my other rats, started to nibble on my rings. He nibbled gently on a knuckle and I squeaked. He stopped immediately. Then he decided to stand up in the doorway and put his paws on my forhead and investigate my hair and then my glasses on the top of my head. He wanted to sniff my nose - but I wasn't quite comfortable with that. Visions of a bite on the tip of my nose possibly turning red making me look like Rudolph kind of stopped me.

Then he came out onto my arm a little so when he backed off, I pulled my arm slowly out of his way allowing him room to come out onto the card table his cage is on in my office. I managed to steal a few light pets and he didn't seem to mind. After checking out the table, going back into the cage for safety and coming back out onto the table a few times, he decided to scale the outside of the cage. Oh, oh, now he is on top of the cage. I manage to get many more pets in while he is exploring and again with no attempts from him to bite me or let me know he didn't like it. Then, getting a little too comfortable, he attempted to scale the back wall down to the table in among my many tax papers behind his cage. Not too keen on that as that would place him on an escape route to the floor. Yep, I do think like a rat sometimes.

Now I had to bite the bullet. Would he allow me to pick him up yet? I had no choice at this moment. I reached down quickly before he could disappear in the papers and picked him up gently. Oh, that made me feel good. He on the other hand wanted to get in among the papers I am sure. But he did not attempt to bite at all! I put him back in front of his cage and of course he went back to the scaling of the outside wall to the top of the cage. But I guided him more to his doorway instead. He wasn't too happy with that. I continued to guide him into the cage so I could close the door as I could see he was getting into that "excitement" type mood and I didn't want to lose the ground we just gained with one another.

After I closed the door gently on him he pranced around his cage like a two year old stomping his feet because he couldn't have ice cream. I watched an giggled. Finally, he settled down again in his corner to take a nap. But facing me all the time.

I would say we made a huge step forward. I am prepared for the few steps back which naturally come in this process - but this success shows me he will be a wonderful boy.

Oh - I must have left the yogurt treats just a little too close to the cage last night. Yep - he got to the bag. But only enough to have chewed the top corners off enough that I now have to find another bag to put them in. I think I will put them into a chew proof jar instead. :-)

Yay.....dancing here....feet tapping in happiness!


Man, does this little guy have a personality! Today we progressed even further. He almost went onto my shoulder. I have even figured out the sound that triggers his jumpiness.

So today we played and he was on top of his cage, then back in it then on the table then back out on top. At one point I was standing right next to his cage so he could stand up on me while I pet him with both hands. I would have thought he might have felt trapped being enclosed like that, but he liked it while he was thinking about climbing up to my shoulder. I could feel him gripping my shirt and trying to pull up, but he didn't make it that far yet. I then crouched down a little offering my shoulder at his level but I don't think he felt that was much of a challenge.

He sniffed my face all over. At one point he nipped my cheek gently as if to test it out. I squeaked and he went back to sniffing. Then he pulled down my glasses. He loves to poke his head out of his cage door and have me bend down my head at him and then pull my glasses off the top of my head. Then he makes a quick lap around the inside of his cage like he is playing tag or something coming straight back to the door looking to do it again. I think this is his favorite game with me so far.

When I finally said it was time for his nap as he was getting a little over-stimulated, he seemed to get mad at me and pushed his litter behind his cage door thus telling me I wasn't allowed in. What a temper and wonderful personality. And I was right because right now he is in the corner curled up snoozing away.


Ok, this is just dangerous to have this cute guy in my office. I can't get much work done. I wanna pay more attention to him than my taxes! I know there is a "Disease" known as GGMR (Gotta Get More Rats) but is there one to cover this? Maybe something like GLMR - Gotta Love My Rattie. Nooooo, don't - there go those wiggling whiskers!.......

I think I tired him out. I don't believe it.

Came in later. I opened the cage door and with a piece of Mahi Mahi in my fingers I slowly brought my hand inside towards him. I want him to get used to my hand being in his cage and that it isn't a bad thing. I won't do this all the time since I don't want him thinking that every time my hand comes into the cage it will contain food.

I will get him used to my hand being in the cage slowly by petting hiim further and further in his cage starting at the door of his cage. I back off when I see him tense and will try again another time. I never want to push him. He has to be ready for me. He has to understand I won't hurt him. Once I can handle him without any fears then he will be ready for my unsuspecting husband to try and pet him. And then my younger daughter.

But I am jumping too far in my hopes at the moment. One step at a time and today's was momentus.


Yesterday was one of the two steps back days. Puppy just didn't want to play today. But today we played inside his cage. Okay...He was inside his cage and I was outside playing with him. He didn't want to come out of the cage, but we played the "I'll move around the litter and Mom moves it back" game. We did that for a while and then I left to work somewhere else in the house and then came back. He stared at me with those beautiful beady eyes and I couldn't resist.So we played some more. But he just didn't seem to want to come out of the cage. Maybe when there is more than just the top of his cage to explore he might just do it.

Okay...now that I just wrote this I heard noises behind me and he was standing up against the door asking to come out. So I went over and opened the door. He came out onto my arm after snffing and testing my hand once with a slight gentle nibble. I squeaked and he stopped and went on exploring. He was thinking about coming out onto my shoulder, but didn't quite get that far. He went to the top of the cage instead. After walking around I offered him a yogurt drop which he took. But he wanted to get back inside the cage to eat it. He was thinking on how to get down with it in his mouth. I offered my arm as a ramp downward. I have been doing that so he learns to trust me. Today he took me up on that offer and walked down my arm and into the cage. So he went in the cage to eat it. I thought that would be it, but I was wrong.

I let him out again and guess what? He went onto my shoulder and sniffed me, my ear, my hair and then sat as long as a young rat can. Then he walked around and I realized he wanted back onto the cage so I bent down for him to get off on his own. I certainly do not wish him to get into the habit of jumping to places at this point. I know I am gaining his trust, but what would he do if I had to quickly reach for him and grab him?

He still has the excitement "jumps". He has come in and out of his cage a couple of times. To the top. Then he sniffs my ear and grooms my hair. Then off exploring again. When he gets close to jumping down off the back of the cage I tap him on the back. At one point he did get off onto a package of printer paper with a plastic wrapping. The crinkly noise seemed to frighten him a little. So I picked him up. Yep - he let me! And I put him back into his cage. He went straight into and out of the tube and looked at me like "Thank you from saving me from that noisy monster."

Unfortunately I have to get back to work now little guy.

Oh brother - am I brain deficient of what? I was wondering why Puppy didn't want to come out yesterday and then again a few moments ago. Duh... Sammy, our cat decided he wanted a lot of love from me while I was out of the office. And what did I say about washing your hands before you come near a biter? Well, my jacket and my hands must have smelled freshly of cat. I realized that when Puppy started to come to me and then looked at me like I was something strange. That was when it hit me that I must smell like Sammy. It is really hard to balance all our pets sometimes. So now I will remember. He made no move to me like he was afraid and fearless. He just sat there and then started the litter pushing towards the door.

So - Puppy - I got the message - washing my hands first and not wearing my jacket when I pet the cats or dogs.


I thought rats were supposed to be nocturnal. Especially when the window shade is open allowing the sun (ok - cloudy light) through during the day. But these guys seem to sleep late afternoon and through the night - well, at least until 2am when I finally hit the hay. Then in the morning around 11 when I check on them for the first time, they are active and that is when I can get the most out of them. At least that seems to hold true for Puppy.

Oh - and by the way - Puppy has a new name. Our dog was just getting too confused as well as my husband when I would start to recant the day's activities and who did what. Soooo - a name finally popped into my head and when I said it - Puppy seemed to like it too. Drum roll please....

Everyone - meet Jack.

I thought about his jumping and then thought of the old poem my Mom used to read to me at night before bed - Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candle stick.

He came out onto my arm today but didn't go up on to my shoulder. He seems to be more curious about what is above him now. I have the same sized cage on top of his and in there are the 4 babies. Above them is Polly. So Jack is either smelling the babies or more so, Polly.

It is late now and quiet which is why I have the hours I do. I hear the babies are up behind me. Everytime I look around there is one or two watching me from their new tubes. I want to get them a wheel as I bet they will enjoy that alot. Maybe there is one locally.


So I received some information on Puppy before I got him which gave him his well deserved label of "Biter" -

This is how he got his name and it is cute:
"He got his name because the man who got him for his daughter let her name him. She was only 4, and I was kind of tickled to see how sweet he was being handled by a 4 year old... He did help her hold him and watched over her making sure she didn't get too rough. She calls everything furry a "puppy". I thought it was cute so I kept the name... I didn't have any other rats. I took him because the man wasn't picky about who he went to and on his Craig's List ad said he knows snakes need to eat too. I never had a chance to let him meet a rat. I'm assuming he was put with other rats with the snake breeder... but I wasn't told of how he interacted with them. I was actually too upset at the time to even ask."

And this is about his biting history (edited):
"Well, he was originally purchased as a little baby by a man for his daughter (petco). She socialized him pretty well. I got him @ 3 months old. He was kissy, playful, always searched my hands to see if I had goodies. He loved shoulder rides. I let him out to play in the bathroom while I showered, he also got free roam of the couch 1-2 times a day while I watched tv. He was a single rat, not having any buddies since he left Petco. I had him for 3-4 weeks and then one day he bit my cousin when he was reaching in the cage to pet him. He bit pretty hard and drew lots of blood. I thought MAYBE he though he was being given a treat. A couple days later, I took him out to play as usual. I was sitting on the couch with him. He started pulling at my shirt. Then he got underneath it and BIT my arm really hard... Again, lots of blood. Then the next day my brother came over with his girlfriend. She has rats too. She wanted to hold him. She gently grabbed him and started pulling him out and he bit her fingertip and his teeth nearly dug all the way under her fingernail. Her nail was actually loose and took till about now to fully heal. Couple days after that, he got under my shirt and bit my belly. He seemed fine just before each bite. Didn't act aggressive till he had prolonged contact with skin. The last straw was me reaching in the cage to change something out, and he got a hold of my finger and bit into my knuckle. It got really infected and burned and oozy. It's fine now, but I figured he needed to be neutered. I found him a place with a woman who promised to neuter him. She seemed to check out and I trusted her and she lives really close so I could check on him. He bit her 3 times and she gave him to a man who is a snake breeder (which is why I got him back. He even bit the snake breeder, who is actually gentle with his rats (though I hate people who breed feeder rats). I have know him a few years and I know he wouldn't have abused Puppy, he loves all animals....

I am really, really shocked Puppy hasn't bitten. He ACTED like a happy rat here, really playful, but he would out of no where bite. No warning, no fur puffing or standoffish behavior, just random unpredictable aggressive bites. I'm no newbie to rats. I've had them since I was little, and I bred them for 4 years. I don't know what his deal was with me. I've never had a rat that scared me before. Maybe it was a phase he was going through, I just assumed it was testosterone overload given his age, and I've seen rats around that age get really testy with other male rats... He's always been healthy otherwise. That's all I know about him. He was fine with me for a couple weeks, then he got a taste for blood. That's all I can say, lol."----------------------

So there is his story before I got him. We will see. As I said above, I am letting him lead. And after hearing all of this, I will have a better understanding of what to look for and hopefully avoid that knuckle experience of which I know to be extemely painful. I was bitten by a VERY FRIGHTENED kitten in New Orleans after Katrina when it tried to escape the cage. It was in the first couple of days I was there and the towel I had used moved and I recognized the look in the kittens eyes and knew what was coming but couldn't move my hands or it would have escaped. And then chomp on the knuckle at the base of my right index finger. And upon reacting to that - chomp again on the knuckle at the base of my left hand. Both into the ligaments. But I still held on until someone else came with my orange heavy leather gloves I accidently left at the Everett Shelter and took the cat. I was given 4 different antibiotics for two weeks. So I will be very careful.


So why is it they will look like they are coming out to play yet not let go of the cage with their back feet? They stretch and stretch out as far as they can, yet those two back feet remain clamped onto the bottom of the cage door frame. It is just so funny.


I am sitting here typing with a rat on my shoulder. And who do you think it is? Someone whose name has changed yet again - but I believe this will be the last name change. So what is his new name you ask?


Yeah, ok, that's strange. But he seems to like it. And today as he is calming down and sitting quietly on my shoulder and cleaning his little face I have heard the welcome sound of bruxing. Wahoo! And he smells like a boy! Odd that I like that smell. I won't even think about why they smell that way - but they just do. Girls don't smell like that. Willow and her girls and her sister all had a grape smell to them. But the boys have their own unique smell.

oops - gotta go for a short while - be right back.....


Wow, that short while went in to a day. Sorry about that.

His new name became PuppyJack from talking with him. I was horsing around with him and his names - past and present. Then I said them together and he came. I waited until he went to the back of his cage again and said PuppyJack again and he came again as if to say "What!?" It isn't Pepper Jack like the cheese. He didn't respond to that. It has to be PuppyJack. How funny.

Tried to get him to come out today. It seems to take a few attempts before he actually makes it to my shoulder. I stop each time when he starts to get jumpy and flighty. But it is cute. Polly gets that way too alittle. But not quite as much as PuppyJack. Maybe he will outgrow that stage and settle down a little more.

I was getting a yogi out of the bag and he got too excited and tried to get my finger into his cage. He only grabbed hard enough for the yogi. I squeaked (getting good at that fast response when I feel teeth) and he dropped me like a hot potato. He gave me a look like he was sorry but give him the yogi now. So I got one out and he gently took it.

Biter? Maybe he doesn't like to feel trapped. I know he doesn't like loud noises or the dogs when they come near. I had Rescue and Penny (two of our dogs) run in behind me at two separate times and PuppyJack wasn't too thrilled with them in the room. But they were scooted out quickly and PuppJack seemed relieved. He also grabs at food - so maybe something smelled like food on someones hands or clothing? Maybe my time to be added to the bitten list just hasn't come yet. I hope it won't.

He is so sweet and waits for me by the door when I come in to my office. Now if we can just get past this dancing around routine and come out on the first try and sit quietly on my shoulder while I work like I know I can - then I know I won't be getting any work done! But it will be fun.


I ended up taking PuppyJack out of his house a little more forcefully than I have. He always comes out just enough only to keep his back feet attached to the bottom of his doorway. So, since he hasn't bitten me - I decided it was time to try and get him. He sqeeled, a moment like - "No, I don't want out - I'm afraid." But now he is happily exploring my shoulder, sniffing one ear and then the other, examining my glasses on the top of my head, crawling in and out of the hood of my jacket I always wear and then back to the sniffing of my ear, and so on. I tried to offer him a yogi while on my shoulder but he just looked at it and kept exploring. He is much too busy visiting to eat I guess.

It really feels funny when he stands on my shoulder and puts his little front paws on my head to reach and sniff my glasses. Then he likes it when I fold my arm in front of me accross my chest so he can crawl into the space it creates. He can sit there for quite a while moving his head in all directions sniffing the air. I bet he is smelling Polly and the baby boys.

He reminds me a lot of Christopher for some reason. Smell, size, personality? Now he is cleaning his face and front paws on my shoulder while his whiskers tickle my neck. The bruxing has started as he sits quietly on my left shoulder. So sweet.

I do hope my few days away won't set us back too far.

We have come a long way. What a guy. I am still on guard. Probably will be for a couple of months just to make sure. There are many things he is scared of and I want to make sure he understands that he won't be hurt. Maybe when then day comes where he doesn't need to keep his back feet attached to the cage door frame is when I know we have taken the final friendly step together of trust and love.


So I have not been able to tell you all of the great progress that PuppyJack is making because of our lack of reliable Internet connection. So I am going to try here and get it done between the up times.

He loves to come to the cage door when I come into the room. It was that when I opened his door he would run away and look at me from the back of the cage. Then he would slowly make his way forward to the cage door. Once there it would take an awefully long time for him to make it outside of his cage. And then if I wasn't quick enough he would dart back inside his cage and then dart back and forth from the door to the back of the cage and then around and around the inside of the cage like someone was lighting a match to his feet.

But recently, he waits at the door and then I can open the door and pick him up quickly and put him on my shoulder. If I miss - then we do the circle routine. But when successful at getting him onto my shoulder, he enjoys it. But, he still can only be outside of his cage for about 10 minutes before he starts to get nervous. He has started to hide his head in my jacket, but only for a moment. Then he pops his head out and sniffs the air.

He will eat on my shoulder now. And I have - which has enabled me to get him from inside his cage - started to offer him a Yogi with my hand in his cage. At first he didn't like that and would run away and then start to push his litter at me. But now he will come to my hand inside his cage and take the Yogi gently from my fingers. Even if the piece is small, he will very gently take it from my fingers.

Right now he is curled up in the corner of his cage snoozing away. He is sooooo cute and I am glad he is here. I know eventually he will be just fine. It did take Romeo 2 months before I no longer had to fear he would lunge at me and bite. So we will see how long it takes with PuppyJack.


Yay! I can update you again on PuppyJack's progress. But it seems to be getting to be the same old same old report. Except that he is getting more and more comfortable at being out of his cage and on me, in my jacket and now out onto my desk. Oh, oh... As the home page shows, he has found the keyboard of the computer. And he has showed me there is a sleep button on the keyboard I didn't know was there. He stepped on it and all of a sudden the screen says the computer is starting to prepare to shut down. And of course that didn't phase PuppyJack one bit. He just kept on wandering around. When he got to something that seemed to startle him, he raced back to my jacket - plopped inside, turned around to check if he was being followed and then came back out for another round of exploring.

He no longer runs away as I open the cage door. I even think he is beginning to like coming out. He does still act like he wants to stay in his cage once I get him, but once he is on my shoulder he snuggles up against my neck for a moment and takes in the world planning out what he would like to do next.

As for biting - nada. Never has bitten me or made any attempts to. He tried testing me, but I squeaked and he stopped. I think he understands he shouldn't bite me. Or not. For whatever reason he doesn't bite me I am grateful. I have been bitten before and certainly do not enjoy it.

I am happy he is here - he is big, loving and squishy and smells like a healthy boy. His coat is gorgeous and he needs a cage mate. But I will have to think long and hard on that one first.


I Got Bit!

No, it wasn't from Puppy Jack. It was from Mr. Bruxini! I noticed before he was getting alittle too rough with the two younger boys he was with, Raffles & Simon, and I was waiting for our tax refund (which I can't seem to find the time to finish...) to get him neutered. But... Today made me regret that decision to wait...

So here is the sad news that led to my being bit. A few days ago we finally realized that Armstrong, of the NASA (a.k.a. Moon) boys was too sick to go on. He had been on antibiotics for difficulty breathing/suspected pneumonia. But he did not repond to any. I had mentioned before in the newsgroups I

belong to that these four guys were developing small growths on them. So we helped him on his way as he just could not get a full breath any more.
Last night I checked on his brother, Dangerous Bean (my baby), who was following in his footsteps. Conrad and Aldrin were sleeping quietly on another level. This morning Conrad was up and wanting breakfast. Bean sounded even worse. But Aldrin was forever quiet where he had gone to sleep the night before. He showed absolutely no signs of anything - other than having two more of those odd looking growths than the others - almost wart like. I put Dangerous Bean in a small cage of his own for less stress while I cleaned their cage out. I let Conrad out to play on the bed. Then I turned back to check on Bean and just that quick he was gone. So fast. I didn't even get to say goodbye to Aldrin or Bean.

I have not had this many rats in this short time span develop tumors in my entire rattie ownership. But then, they are all in two sets of litters - one, Willow's children, almost positive there was a lot of in-breeding at a snake person's home. I know nothing of the NASA boy's history. Of Willow's gang there is Topper and of the NASA Boys there is Conrad.

Now for the stupid part - After handling both Aldrin and Bean I heard Bruxini causing a fight in his cage. So I opened the door and broke it up as I usually do. I went to get Mr. Bruxini out after I felt he had calmed enough, as I usually do, but after trying to lift him out - he bit the base of my little finger - hard. I believe he smelled "death" on me and I should have known better. I should have washed my hands and changed my clothes and really need to A. keep a water bottle in the boys room to break up fights and B. Get Mr. Bruxini neutered. So this has been a hard last 6 months for our household. I think we have never run into this before because we never had siblings before other than one set of sisters.

And - as a recipient of two cat bites on my hands I will tell you that a rat bite is waaay more painful. But at least the experience of those cat bites taught me how to wrap up my hand without looking like a professional boxer. haha 03/22/2011


While we were on our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Yellowstone, our two girls were here at the house taking care of all the ratties, including PuppyJack. But I believe my absence was hard on him since when I returned he had a cold. There is no porphyrin, but I can hear it at times when he breathes. It sounds like it is in his nose and throat. But I cannot hear it any lower (in his lungs). And our vet agreed. He has a little discharge in his nose - but more like a runny nose as it is clear.

Being that he has become a favorite now we don't want to take chances with it getting worse. So he is on meds - not Baytril. I won't do that until a rat gets to a point where nothing else will get rid of the URI. I want to keep it as a med the rat's body has gotten used to thus making it ineffective against bacteria.

Anyway - I called yesterday morning as soon as the vet's office was open to make an appointment. I mentioned then that he had been a biter, but never has bitten me. But I have no idea how he will react to the vet or the office, etc.. I got there early so PuppyJack could get used to the smells. But they ushered me in to the room quickly. So I got him out and onto the towel on the table with the tube he had been snuggled with in the carrier to help make him feel more comfortable. He started to explore the table quickly. Their office is undergoing rennovation and the table in there now is a folding one attached to the wall. The supply station was now against the wall next to this table with just a couple of inches in between making it real tempting for an exploring and curious rat to walk on over to the supply station. This meant I had to keep a real close eye on him.

Dr. Mitchell came in pretty quick with a vet tech. As we started to talk about what was going on with him, she reached down and held him and started to listen to him with her stethoscope. Wow! He just sat there. As her exam continued he did try to get away as most ratties do - but he NEVER acted aggresively towards her. And when she was not holding him, the tech was. Amazing!

So once she decided the course of treatment and the Vet Tech went off to fill the prescription we talked. I told her about him being a biter before I got him and that made her eyebrows raise. I also told her I told the receptionist that when I made the appointment. But he was such a good boy she couldn't see him being a biter. Then I told her that I have had many biters that have been converted into sweet loving ratties.

Dr. Mitchell's eyes lit up and said, "You are the "Rat Whisperer".

During our talk, PuppyJack found that tucking his head inside my vest was a safe place to be. So he looks to me as someone who will protect him. That is fantastic.

He also weighed in at 604 grams - that is almost One and a Half Pounds! A big squishy and very handsome boy.

We used to have a rabbit named Dusty. When we pet her she would lay as flat on the ground as possible. Now this was supposed to be a mini dwarf - but Dusty was all but mini. So to see this rabbit lay like this and spread out so far was comical.

Why did I mention Dusty? Well, for some reason PuppyJack does the same thing. Our phrase when Dusty did this was, "How flat can a bunny get?" Now we say, "How flat can a rattie get." And the funny thing is when I say this before I start petting PuppyJack, he automatically flattens down waiting for a good petting.

11/13/2011 ---------

Well - what can I say? PuppyJack has turned in to the most loveable rattie I have had in a long time. Since Cordy I guess. He is so fat and needs exercise. He was rooming with Jake, an Everett Rescue, first but Jake was just a little too pushy. Then I tried Marty and he too was too pushy. PuppyJack is now an easy going guy and doesn't like being pushed around making the ones who starts the fight frustrated cuz he doesn't fight back. But I feel bad that they are always trying to goat him in to one.

Since I came home from the Port Orchard show in Sept. 2011 with two rescued spayed girls and one girl, Tessa, seems to like Oliver I thought I would try Julie with PuppyJack. They got along right away.

Then the re-designing began by Julie. PuppyJack is a Hammock kind of guy. He never did like the tubes. So what did Julie do? She chewed the straps on the hammock - 8 times. I was able to repair all of them until she chewed one strap right to the hammock. When I saw that I was a little upset until I realized I was looking at PuppyJack in the tube. So I decided to leave the hammock, unattached, on the floor of the cage and add another tube to replace the hammock. This was perfect - it is a his and hers set of tubes with a hammock that Julie uses from time to time to hide in. I haven't heard any scuffling coming from their cage. They eat together and he is far more active than he was. So he may lose some weight.

The other day I had the Everett boys all out on our bed. Then I saw PuppyJack staring out at them. Since PuppyJack had roomed with all but one, I decided to get him out too. And sure enough, all got along well. Until Marty, the smallest guy who had his toe bitten off by Oliver when walking on his cage the same day we got Oliver, decided to take PuppJack on. Now, Marty is half the size of PuppyJack and PuppyJack just laid on his back and took it. I think this frustrated Marty as it did when he was rooming with PuppyJack before. So I waited until they parted and then put Marty back in his cage. The other three had a blast on the bed and no accidents! Amazing. Expecially for non-neutered boys.

05/15/2012 ---------

I can't believe I haven't updated PuppyJack's page since November. But then he has been a calm and cool young man with no issues. He has crept into all of our hearts here in our home as he has become such a squishy lovable man that has absolutely no intentions of biting. He is no longer associated with that label. As a matter of fact he was never associated with it as he never bit anyone here. He is such an awesome young man.

He has been such an inspiration that he has inspired a story to which I hope can be published and enjoyed by young children to adults continuing his inspiring love long after he is gone from us. But for now - we enjoy his whisker twitch, begging for yogis and love of back and ear scritches.

07/10/2012 -------

On Friday, 07/06/2012 I took PuppyJack, Jake and Marty to the vet. All had the itches and some had some skin irritations I was worried about from the scratching. PuppyJack was put on an antibiotic he had before. For the lice, I was given revolution which I was reluctant to treat anyone with. But he was so itchy that on Sunday, 07/08/2012, I gave PuppyJack 1 small drop of revolution for the treatment of rat lice. The next morning around 11am I went in to check on him. He was lying at the bottom of his cage, weak and lethargic. I posted on all the forums and newsgroups I could think of if this has happened to anyone else. I wanted to hear that it would just make him sleepy and he would be better in a few hours. But no one else said that anything this serious happened.

I cried and told him he had to fight. He had to get better. It wasn't his time to go yet. He looked at me as if he would try. But as time went on he just got weaker and weaker. He wouldn't even take anything to drink. Then his little body started to react to the impending death it sensed. I knew then I was going to lose him.

I cried again, harder, and realized I had to let him go. I had to tell him to go on before me or he would suffer. I did just this. Gently I cuddled him, stroked him the way he liked behind his ears. Then he looked at me as if he understood what I was saying. As I pet him I heard him trying to brux one last time. I held his little face closer to mine as I did when he bruxed before. Almost as if he knew I would do this he timed it so he could lick my face once more. That startled me a little and I put him back on my lap. As he looked at me I saw his life pass away. His breathing slowed. There were a few small spasms and then he was gone.

I don't know why he was taken and I felt that he died by my hand when I gave him the revolution. I decided I needed to know what he died of. I had to have a necropsy done on him. I never had one done before. But I had to know.

Our vet did it this morning, 07/10/2012. She called me and told me he had a large tumor, the size of his heart, next to his heart. He also had many other very small ones all around it. They were lymphatic and that meant that even if we had found out about the tumor and if it was operable, that there were way too many others for him to survive. In a way, the revolution, being hard on his already taxed body, was just enough to send him on his way thus sending him with less suffering than what he might have endured had he lived longer and the other tumors grew and the big one got larger. So maybe this was a blessing.

And then I heard of another baby boy rat in Canada. A biter and the person that had him didn't want him anymore as he had bitten her daughter pretty badly. Through the rat groups I was contacted to see if I could take him. It just happened that my daughter was in Canada at that time and leaving the next day. Everything fell into place so quickly and easily as if it was meant to be. This little one's name was Doodle. Named by a young child.

Well - PuppyJack had part of his name given to him by a young child, he was a biter that needed help. Could it be that PuppyJack helped to make it so we were destined to be together? That I would take this baby boy, as I did PuppyJack, and give him another chance at life. To hopefully teach him that he doesn't need to bite. That he will be someplace where he will be safe and loved as PuppyJack was loved. Could it be that PuppyJack had his paws in this little one's future.

I'd like to think so. And Doodle will no longer be this little one's name. PuppyJack Jr. doesn't sound right - so a friend suggested PJ. I never called or wrote PuppyJack as PJ. This PJ name would then be unique to this little baby. So PJ it is.

Thank you PuppyJack for helping to bring to me this little boy to love. But he won't be you. He won't be my heart rat who bruxed and boggled and never, ever tried to bite me. He won't be that boy who will always have a special place in my heart. He won't be my PuppyJack.