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Read more from Leigh.
My partner and I had wee domestic in the supermarket yesterday. He wanted to buy bacon and showed himself to be not quite as ferociously committed as I was to finding some that hadn’t come off a pig who’d been shut in a cage since the year dot.
Leaving him fondling a large (and comparatively inexpensive) pack of shoulder rashers, I galloped stroppily off to customer services to find out which kinds of bacon were free-range. Of the seemingly countless brands in the cabinet, there was only one. It cost $3.95 more than the caged kind for half the amount. I was delighted. He was distraught. We bought it.
"That’s just typical", he growled, "of someone who would take a rat to the vet".
I can explain about the rat. It was dropped on our driveway from a great height by a hawk who had momentarily lost his attention span. As I approached it, it stretched out one forepaw towards me and squeaked.
I was a goner. I unearthed a cat carrier and an old towel and gently transferred the damaged little chap to the cage for a quick trip to the vet.
People are funny. When the receptionist saw the cat carrier she cooed “ooh, what’s happened to this poor little darling”, but as soon as Ratatouille poked his head out, she screamed “ooh gross, it’s a rat.”
The vet was somewhat less discriminating. He sympathetically suggested I leave Ratatouille there for further investigation and promised to phone me as soon as there was news.
“If he can be fixed, I’m happy to do whatever nursing is required,” I said, wondering for just a millisecond how on earth I could look after a paraplegic rat in a household of four cats and a dog. “But if he can’t be rehabilitated, I want you to put him humanely to sleep. With an injection, not with a blow to the head.”
Later in the day, the receptionist phoned. “I’m very sorry to tell you,” she said in sepulchral tones, “that Ratatouille has had to be euthanased. You can drive by and pick him up if you like, or we can take care of the body.”
I’d already had a couple of glasses of wine so, pragmatic to a fault, I abandoned Ratatouille’s remains to a speedy cremation at the vet’s.
He may have had a short life, I said to my partner in the supermarket, but at least it was free. Unlike this bacon, he commented grumpily. Just as well he never found out how much it costs to euthanase a rat.
The moral of the story is, I suppose, that rats can’t fly. But I live in hope that pigs might.