A Short But Whiffle-Nosed Friendship

Picture by Andrea Gilbey

DizzyNot so long ago, my friend Ginny Fleming internetduced me to her friend Andrea Gilbey, and Andrea internetduced me to “her boys,” fancy rats Humphrey and Dizzy. Humphrey was already failing, and died shortly after I “met” him, but I enjoyed stories of they boys’ hi-jinx and pictures of Dizzy, like the one above, up until yesterday.

Yesterday, Andrea announced that Dizzy, that snuggly, whiffle-nosed scamp, had also passed.

Rats, I’ve learned, only live for two or three years, which seems to make them an ideal short-term commitment. But here’s the catch: There’s no such thing as a short-term commitment. If you love, it doesn’t matter what the life expectancy is of the person or critter you love. I, who still mourn the passing of our goldfish and dojo loach, tell you this.

I only knew Dizzy for a few short months, but his passing leaves a hole in my heart. But, as is the way with loved people and critters, the hole is filled with the happiness of having had the chance to know him at all.

Thanks for sharing him with us, Andrea!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character meets an animal they consider unattractive until closer acquaintance.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “A Short But Whiffle-Nosed Friendship

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    August 29, 2013 at 8:07am

    That photo is adorable! Rats are cute (and intelligent), really. We just go “eww” because we know they once heralded pestilence and death, and are bold scavengers who will eat your face off if it’s a question of you starving, or them. So don’t let them get hungry or pick up fleas, and it’s all good! 😉

    I’ve never had a rat for a pet, but have had a mouse, a vampire gerbil, and a hamster. I think I’d like a rat just fine.

    No, it’s BATS I have issues with. Bats and spiders. There’s a story for you – my alter ego finds herself on earth, in an earth library full of dead books, spiders, and one trapped BAT. Do you think you’re up to absurdist HORROR? LOL

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 29, 2013 at 8:17am

      Bats are cute! And they eat mosquitoes! I’ve had several bats in my belfry attic and even down in the house. You just turn all the lights on and watch calmly until they roost, slip a paper bag over ’em, and throw ’em out of an upper window. SO THEY CAN FLY AWAY, not to hurt them. They can’t take off from a low position.

      And I like your idea. 🙂

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      • Holly Jahangiri

        August 29, 2013 at 8:47am

        You remind me of a guy I used to know who found a rather large, venomous snake curled up behind his TV, once – just trying to get warm, he thought. (Lying in wait to bite him in the ankle when he went for his midnight snack, more likely, thought I – hah, midnight snake! No snack for you!) Anyway, I said something along the lines of, “At that point, I’d toss the keys to the snake, slip out the back door, and call 911.”

        He said something like, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to get a broom and rotate the brush end down the snake’s body till you’ve pinned the head, pick it up and throw it in a paper bag, and release it in the woods?”

        The man was SERIOUS.

        “Um, no, Jack, it wouldn’t be. I just don’t see that ending well at all. Better I should give it the deed to my house and move in with the hunky fireman who comes to rescue me.”

        Crazy man.

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          August 29, 2013 at 9:46am

          LOL! Yeah, snakes, I worry about. Although they’d usually rather go away. The problem is when they decide to play hide-and-seek. I think your plan is a good one. Maybe Jack isn’t into hunky firemen. Maybe he likes ER nurses.

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      • Holly Jahangiri

        August 29, 2013 at 11:07am

        This is weird, but I have email notifications of your reply, but don’t see your reply. For that matter, I’m not seeing mine, here, either – the one about snakes.

        Even after hitting CTRL+F5. This isn’t the first time, and it’s happened on two different PCs this morning.

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          August 29, 2013 at 1:26pm

          Very odd, Holly…. It must be because you’re imaginary. Or, wait, are you the real one?

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  2. Jane

    August 29, 2013 at 9:29am

    Well said.
    I, too, have issues with losing critters, whatever length the friendship. They are all precious. I’m just happy that, right now, nobody here is ailing or even particularly old (except for the humans).
    Here’s to happy rat heaven.

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  3. Terry Cramer

    August 29, 2013 at 4:09pm

    This little guy is so charming, and what a great photo. I always marvel that we can find a pet rat so appealing, and yet, when we see rats racing around on the subway tracks, we get the creeps. I liked what your friend said about making sure to keep them well fed and never hungry and not let them get fleas. Yuk yuk. By the way, did you know that in Colorado and maybe some other states nearby that there are prairie dog colonies that have members who have the Plague? The Plague! yes.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 30, 2013 at 9:06am

      No, Terry, I didn’t know about the prairie dogs! That’s pretty ghastly!

      Maybe we’re so creeped out about wild rats because somewhere deep in our brains we know how clever they are? Mom loves to have squirrels come up and eat from the bird seed on her porch. I say, “What if they were rats? A rodent is a rodent. You hate rats and love squirrels because squirrels have fluffy tails and rats don’t? Maybe some rat entrepreneur could make a fortune selling tail falsies to rats so they look cute and feedable to humans.” And we talked about that for a while. Mom and I crack us up.

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