Friday, October 15, 2004

And Then There Were Three

I'm not referring to the album by the rock band Genesis.

This morning I was in a rush to leave the apartment and was asking Melanie to feed the mice when she was up and about, but then something made me go check on them myself. Everything looked ok at first, our brown mouse Maddi was casually having a drink when I looked in, and I could see the forms of the triplets in a huddled circle. I reached in to pet them, and two noses popped up into the air, but their sister didn't move. I checked her out and discovered she had passed away sometime during the night.

Many people would laugh about me being sentimental over a mouse, but I happen to have a fondness for Rodents. Rabbits, Mice, Rats, Hamsters...had 'em all, and plan to add more in the future when space avails itself. For now, we've been content taking care of these little ladies whom we rescued from the OSPCA before they became hawk food.

Mice are particularly difficult to separate when young. You have to a really good eye to determine what sex they are, so often males are accidently mixed in with a clan of females and you have a population explosion on your hands. This was happening regularly at the OSPCA and the amount of mice available was getting out of hand. I was unemployed at the time, so spent my time volunteering at the Provincial Centre as the acting co-ordinator for volunteers when the position became vacant (I was actually hoping for the job). Very quickly it was obvious that I enjoyed working with the rodents as well, so when I tired of paperwork and phonecalls, I snuck down to the animal area and spent some time there. When the project for the final separation of the mice came down, I was recruited and we spent a painstaking time separating all the males from the females. I ended up taking five of them home with me, all female, for what Melanie originally thought was a foster situation, but then she fell in love with them herself and so we kept them.

We had an Albino, a Brown Mouse and the triplets - all a cream and brown colour. They seemed happy in their new home, a triple decker cage I had owned from my days of breeding rats. They were messy from time to time, pushing their seed-shells out of the side of the cage when they were finished, but for the most part they were a perfect part of the family.

Age does catch up with us all though, especially pets. I'd estimate they were at least a year old when I got them, and we've had them for two years now. The typical lifespan of a mouse is 1.5 to 3 years. So, we've started to lose them. First our Albino moved on a couple months ago, then this morning's spiritual release occurred. I figure that by the end of next year they may all be gone, one after the other.

I'm not going to shed tears for any of them. I understand the cycle of life very well and the consequences of being the owner of many pets. I'm just going to take comfort in the fact I gave them a good life and provided them a safe and happy home. That's the best way to look at it.

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