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The writer recalls the day they had to put down Cody, her pet rat

The day Cody was put to sleep started off terrible. I thought my day couldn’t get any worse. At school I was barely there.

“Elena. Hey! Earth to Elena!” My friend Penelope brought me back to reality. “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

“It’s nothing,” I said. But it wasn’t nothing. I had to say goodbye to Cody today.

When I got home, I went straight to my iPad. Anime really helps when you are stressed.

I remembered that yesterday Cody’s condition had become a whole lot worse. He had already had tumors for a while now, but last night he got an infection that wouldn’t get better. He was really old. I mean, he had already lived for three years, two months, and one day. That is a really long time for a rat. His brother Spencer had only lived for two years, eight months, and one day. It was the sixth-month anniversary of putting down Spencer.

My dad got home, so we had to get ready. As I was getting my shoes on, my dad was putting Cody into a carrier. Cody did not like it one bit. He knew what the carrier meant, and he hated the vet. He made his point clear by squeaking like a crazed animal.

My dad let me hold him on the car ride there. Through the carrier I could hear his squeaks of defiance, but even those sounded pitiful. We sat in silence. The cars came and went. I was barely listening when my dad said, “We’re here.” I barely noticed when we were called into a back room to wait. All I noticed were Cody’s squeaks as he desperately tried to break free.

When we got to the back room, we took him out to play for a bit. His black-and-white fur was matted. His breathing was shallow and raspy. I remembered when his fur was soft when he was young. His round black eyes used to shine with curiosity. He was so cute. His condition had gotten so bad now that we had to wash him. Rats normally groom themselves, so this was bad. He really wasn’t doing well.

After a while of no talking, my dad finally said something. “Remember how Cody liked to crawl in jacket sleeves?”

“Yeah,” I sighed, remembering it for a moment. “He also loved the Christmas tree.”

“He sure did,” my dad remembered. “Both the boys loved the dishwasher and the couch. Oh, and cables.” Talking about these memories made me feel nostalgic. It seemed like they’d happened forever ago.

We heard a knocking at the door, and the vet came in. “We’re ready for him. Come this way.” I gulped. It was really happening. I had dreaded this day ever since Spencer, and I was terrified. As we walked through some rooms, I absentmindedly started clenching my fists.

When we arrived at the room, Cody was let out onto a towel. I pet him a couple of times. I could feel his heartbeat going ba-bum ba-bum. I remembered how it felt to hold him. He was always trying to get free.

“We are going to gas him so he’s unconscious,” the vet said. As the vet brought out a machine, I chewed my lip nervously. The machine looked like a glass case with tubes coming out. The vet picked up Cody gently and placed him in the box. She slid the lid on and hooked up the machine. When the machine was turned on, Cody hated it. He was frantically moving about while squeaking like a madman. After thirty seconds or so, he calmed down and fell asleep.

When we came in six months ago to put down Spencer, the vet had had us leave by this point. We got to stay this time. As the doctor got the needle ready, I tried to keep the tears in. It wasn’t working very well.

“We’ll give him the injection straight to his heart,” the vet explained. “He won’t feel a thing.” Now I really couldn’t keep the tears in. Cody and Spencer were my first pets. I didn’t want to lose them. I had forgotten what it felt like to have no pets.

They injected the needle. Time seemed to slow down. It was completely silent. It was almost as if you could hear Cody’s heartbeat. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Then it stopped. He was completely still.

I don’t remember the rest of the evening very well. I know that we walked out of the building, got into the car, and drove home. I didn’t want dinner. I had lost my appetite. I zoned out until bedtime.

I sat there lying in bed thinking, Cody’s gone. He’s really gone. I guess it hadn’t really sunk in until then. I really had no pets anymore. Both my rats were now gone. First Spencer and now Cody. That night I cried myself to sleep.

The day had ended. The day where we lost Cody, our dear pet rat.

Elena Baltz
Elena Baltz, 10
Mountain View, CA