Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Final Battle of the Grotesque Bulge

Well, here it is. The blog no pet-owner wants to write. And of course, I don't have to write it, but I kind of need to. Catharsis for me always means writing.

Last week, we discovered Remic's bulge was back. It was a different shape, but it was in the gut area again. Now, initially we thought he was having problems digesting his last meal, so we gave him a bath and pumped the heat up in his vivarium. But by Friday, he was lethargic and non-responsive to us, which is really just not Rem. So we called the vet. Couldn't get an appointment until Monday morning. Over the weekend, we kept a close eye on him, but by Monday morning, it was clear something was really, really wrong. He'd dropped a lot of weight very quickly and just...had no spark in him. Remic has always been lively and curious, even right after his surgery and during his recovery. To see him so still and uninterested in us and the world was heartbreaking.

And of course, the vet confirmed what we probably knew in our hearts - that the tumour was back. She only needed thirty seconds of looking at him to know it. Two months after his initial operation, and after he seemed to bounce back so well, this was devastating. But undeniable. And there was only one choice to be made. By this time, Rem was visibly suffering and so we made that choice...because it wasn't really a choice. He was dying. The kindest, most responsible thing we could do was ease him on.

We got Remic in June 2011, from a local guy who was an incurable pet-collector. He'd buy animals until he had no more room, then sell some on to make more room. We got Ket from him too, actually. I don't want to give the impression this guy didn't care about his animals, but I think he was definitely hooked on acquiring new, novelty pets. Kyle, a life-long reptile-lover, jumped at the chance to take Rem off his hands.

Here he is, five years ago, before we gave him a more interesting tank to live in. Snakes are highly curious and need their environment changed regularly to keep them active and engaged. Rem didn't have much in the way of decor when we first took him, and he was pretty twitchy and nervous of us. His first act when we first handled him was to attempt to choke Kyle to death, in fact. Our relationship did improve from there, though.

Here he is befriending a stick. He then tried to bite it, because you just can't trust sticks, and Remic knew that.

Here he is trying to eat an ornamental skull, because whatever else he may have been, Rem was not bright. Every feeding time tended to end with him trying to swallow something other than his mouse (including his own tail, one unfortunate time). He always got there in the end though.

And here he is just watching me watching him. He was always interested in what we were doing, particularly if loud music was involved (he and Ket seem to have a preference for psytrance and drum n'bass). Occasionally, if I was working on perfume orders in the kitchen, I'd just leave his door open so he could poke his head out and have a proper look. He didn't always want to come out of the viv altogether, but he seemed to like getting a closer look at everything.

It's really difficult to explain to people who don't like or have never had snakes why they make good pets, and how they become more than pets - they become companions in the same way a cat or a dog does. Rem had a huge personality. He was derpy and dumb, but inquisitive and perky. He was, I hope you'll agree, incredibly handsome. He was a show-off when he was in the right mood, and he was fascinating to just watch, because he was always doing something, whether it was attempting to break open the snake-lock on his doors or climbing the walls of his tank until he fell over.

We are lucky, I think, that when the end came, it came quickly. There's no good way to lose a pet, and cancer is particularly nasty, but Remic was fine...until he wasn't. Even when we first discovered the tumour back in May, he was pain-free and unbothered by it. During his surgery and recovery, the vet commented on how bright and well he was. His recovery seemed to be going just fine...until it didn't. We knew there was a chance the tumour could return, but of course that doesn't make it any easier that it did.

But I think Rem had a good five years with us, and I think we gave him the most compassionate end we could. He will be massively missed and joyfully remembered.

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