Why I stuffed my Pet
When Teddy, my eight month old dumbo rat, suddenly lost a lot of weight I assumed he was just under the weather. When the vet listened through his stethoscope he diagnosed more than bad weather for the little lad. Well, I say “little lad”, but Teddy was abnormally large for his breed and it seemed his heart was under a dangerous amount of pressure.
The vet assured me that the “humane” thing to do was to “put him down” and of course I agreed, wanting to end the suffering of the creature that had live in my coat pocket for eight months. I'd seen him through his transformation from a pink brussel sprout sized thing into a kind of mini-hound crossed hairy goblin.
The death was horrible. After a turn in a gas chamber and not one, two, but three poison injections, twenty minutes later he finally let go of life. Surely not the signs of a weak heart? And surely the “humane” thing to do would been to give him a swift, severe bash to the head, over in seconds.
I paid for each “treatment” and had no more money to pay for the cremation service offered by the vet and left with my dead rat.
I decided on that walk home to stuff Teddy and keep him with me, as a celebration of his life, as proof of his unique enormous-ness and in defiance (or maybe denial) of death. Not to mention a “fuck you” to the vets and their bills.
Besides, I had no garden I could bury him in and I have always insisted that whatever my own funeral arrangements, they do not include being being put in a box underground.
I made friends with a woman who worked in a zoo. As a novice taxidermist herself, she taught me how to remove skin, scrape the fat from it and dry it out and how to create the shape of an animal that the skin covers, creating the position of the taxidermy – forever.
Teddy, of course, still lives with me. Some visitors are less than happy with his presence, but that was the same when he was alive.
I still love having him near, and I always will.
By Rebecca Snotflower