?.09.02- 04.02.05

Jack was an agouti blazed Berkshire, or badger rat, and was Attila's brother. Jack was destined to forever be the underdog. He was always the one who got sat on, stolen from and generally beat up. Jack was a sweet little rat and always very eager to please, but he did love to explore. Jack was the lickiest rat I've ever met. He licked everybody, even when he was being beaten up he'd be licking his attacker! However, he seemed to embrace his omega status and he never complained or caused any trouble.

When he reached about 1.5 years old, Jack began having seizures. During a seizure, he would paddle his legs about, gnash his teeth and his body would go rigid. These would've been considered severe seizures if Jack had been a dog, but because he was a rat, the vets would not blood test him so I never found out what caused them.

When Attila died, it was quite a blow for little Jack. Whenever a rat is removed from the group permanently, the heirarchy tends to shift. It isn't surprising for there to be scuffles or fights among the remaining rats, even if they were previously the best of friends. It's perfectly natural and is just the rats way of sorting out a new rank system now one of them has gone. Since Jack had always been right at the bottom of the pecking order from the start, Gabriel and Seven began to vent their frustrations on him when Attila died. Seven, who was just doing his job and being a good alpha male, started to push Jack away from his food and power groom him at every opportunity. Gabriel was even meaner. Im still not sure how rats cope with loss, but Jack certainly seemed to change once Attila died. He became much more skittish, and his breathing was bordering on hyperventilating all the time. As such, he started getting a few drops of 'Bach's Rescue Remedy' daily, which is a herbal stress reliever. This helped him to relax and may have helped to prevent his seizures. For a while, he was put onto steroids to help with his breathing problems, but eventually recovered well enough to come off them.

Jack died of old age and I will always remember that day as he died in my arms. The previous night he had been his usual self but sometime during the night he had a seizure and the next day he was very lethargic and under the weather, it seemed that all he wanted to do was sleep. I knew then that he was dying and made him comfortable with a hot water bottle and kept him with me all day. He died in my arms on the bed where he used to sleep. Jack was never any trouble. He never caused problems and just went about his life happily. If I could pick one word to describe Jack, it would be 'merry'. I take comfort in knowing that he died with me, at home, warm and safe in his favourite place.

Why Jack? I was reading 'The Shining' at the time I got Jack and the main character in the book is Jack Torrence. In the movie, that character is played by Jack Nicholson, who is my favourite actor, so it seemed fitting to name my rat Jack. Plus it's just a nice old fashioned name and that I've always liked.

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