Lbs’ (pronounced ELBS’ES) abscess has finally cleared up. He was doing well for the last week without anything coming back after a full round of antibiotics and twice daily flushes with the betadine solution. The last few days he seems a bit more tired than usual. He was getting out of breath after playing, but he’s nearly 2 1/2 years old and I watched a hamster of mine go through the same thing in older age.

He stopped finishing his morning snack of Greek yogurt.

He started to sleep in the hammock even though his cage had not been recently cleaned. He couldn’t stay as warm as he’d like to.

He wasn’t grooming and eventually could not open his eyes because of the porphorin build up. I saw him last night trying to bathe himself near his water bottle only to give up before the task was complete. He was exhausted.

Today he was struggling to breathe. He would cuddle me awhile and try to grab a cat nap and then lurch into a different position because he hurt so bad, trying to take in enough air.

At the vet’s office he was given a nebulizer treatment. This did not take away any of the inflammation in his airways. He was trying so hard to breathe. He would look around at us and throw his head down, completely worn out, huffing and puffing and drained. He was miserable. He was dying from pneumonia.

Lb got his last snurgles today from mommy and daddy. The veterinarian put him down gently while I was in the room, and my baby boy didn’t have to choke to death at home.

I’m sort of confused. I have many many memories of my boy and he didn’t decline over a long period of time. But, taking apart his bachelor pad at home is tough and thinking about how many habits I get to break without breaking my heart on every reminder. Rats are omnivores with an amazing metabolism. Out of a house with cats, guinea pigs, birds and a dog… Little Bastard has an iron constitution. I could share almost any snack with him in small portions. Just finished the chicken wings? Give him one of the bones! Dog doesn’t like her snacks? Keep ahold of it; the rat will eat them. He loved italian food and chili, among so many other things. For at least the past year or so he would get his greek yogurt like an old man gets his coffee. I have over a half a bag of peanut butter biscuits that I just picked up from the local barkery at the farmer’s market two weeks ago. He’s always loved them and he ran out.

I’m angry. I know he was a rat. I know rats don’t last forever. I know I have had guinea pigs that lasted less than he did. I know I got my two parrots because I knew my rodent numbers would dwindle over the next 2-3 years. Birds can live an unforgivably long time. I say it lovingly.

I’ll get over it.