I had to use an old, small capacity card in my camera today, and much to my surprise, I found 8 photos on it. Photos of Chas and Alfie from when we first brought them home in October of 2010. I’ll be digging them up this Spring to collect their skulls. I still miss these two, ferociously. I always will. They were extraordinary rats. Alfie was (and is) the only rat ever to have won rights to wander the whole house a couple of times a week. (It’s a big house, two stories, and Alfie didn’t miss an inch of it.) That came about because one time, Chas had managed to artful dodge the studio, so in desperation, I had Alfie follow me out and asked him to find Chas. Alfie put his nose to the floor and started off, systematically searching everywhere, making sure to touch base with me about every 7 to 10 minutes. Naturally, the cats were intrigued and Alfie was slightly distracted while he barreled right for them, standing up to try and grab their noses. The cats ran away. Alfie went back to searching for Chas. After a considerable amount of time, Alfie found Chas downstairs. I could let Alfie out and about in the house while I was cleaning and tell him “there are chicken bones in the kitchen” and he’d make a beeline straight for them, hauling them back to the studio. Alfie was the smartest rat I’ve ever encountered, and that’s seriously saying something, given how intelligent they all are to begin with.
Chas never shared Alfie’s love of full house exploration, but he was the major Studio/bathroom explorer. He’s the one who dealt with all the niceties of home and hearth, kept things nice for them both and made sure the hoards were properly stashed and guarded. While Alfie never had much patience for pets or cuddles, Chas was a major cuddle bug. He required much time being held, cossetted, and cuddled. Like Alfie, Chas knew no fear. He also ran right up to (and over) cats and monster dogs alike. Both of them would invade Jayne’s dish for food while he was trying to eat, and Jayne is a 120 lb dog. Didn’t care. Chas was incredibly graceful and had the rather disconcerting habit of all of sudden standing up and snatching a fly out of the air and biting its head off. Chas & Alfie were partners in every sense of the word, and Chas was terribly grieved when Alfie died. We brought home the very tiny Esme, hoping she would help Chas through his loss. Chas immediately threw himself into the role of daddy, tracing routes all over the studio (in pee, of course), to provide Esme with a map of safe trails. He showed her everything and was very protective of her, and of Rubin, when we brought her home.