Dogs usually hang out with other dogs; they don’t always get along with cats, but it’s not unheard of. Rats? well, there’s one particular case we know of where a dog, cat, and rat are the best of friends. Mostly though, put these animals together and you get chaos.
Not at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society, (OAHS), in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In March of this year, an owner surrendered the trio made up of Sasha, the dog, Jack, the cat, and Tweaks the rat.
“They had to downsize their home, and they weren’t able to take the three animals with them, so they brought them here,” Cheryl Rosenthal, communications and education coordinator at OAHS said.
“A lot of people would say, ‘Why would you do that?’ But not every place will accept pets, let alone three of them.”
The staff and volunteers at the shelter knew almost immediately that the three pets were firmly bonded. Whenever a new animal arrives at the shelter, they must be medically evaluated. Jack didn’t adapt well being separated from his buddies. His examination didn’t go as smoothly as usual.
“He became very frightened and was growling and not very cooperative at all,” Rosenthal said. “So one of the staff said, ‘Why don’t we try to bring the dog in?’ And it was just amazing. As soon as the dog came in, he was like a different cat. He just became more relaxed knowing that his buddy was there.”
Jack and Sasha were kept together in the same enclosure. The staff recalled their owner’s comment that all three animals got along, so why not try putting them in the same area?
“We thought, ‘Well maybe we should bring the rat in,'” Rosenthal said. “So we did. We put the rat down, and right away the rat was running all over the dog, and going up and licking his face, and the dog was licking the rat. So it was like, ‘OK – I guess they are friends .'” the rat approached sasha and greeted her with a kiss. Then it was Jack’s turn.
How adorable are these three guys! “The cat was sleeping, and Tweaks crawled up by the cat, and then went under his front paws and just laid there like they were best friends,” Rosenthal said. “It was pretty amazing.” What a sweet picture.
Staff named the trio the Rat Pack. And why not? The pack did everything together. They cuddled and played; they even shared their food. Turns out too, all of them are affectionate: “All three of them love to give kisses,” Rosenthal said.
The shelter knew separating the Rat Pack would be a huge mistake.
The trio needed to be re-homed together. Three weeks later, Kathy Berens and her daughter dropped by the shelter. Mother and daughter had already adopted a cat but were looking for something more.
“They were thinking about getting another cat, but they also wanted a dog,” Rosenthal said. “So Kathy overheard some of our staff talking about Tweaks and Sasha and Jack, and she’s like, ‘This sounds like a ready-made family. This might be ideal for us.’”
When it came to tweaks the rat though, Cathy had her misgivings and reservations: “She wasn’t real sure about the rat,” Rosenthal said. “A lot of people are pretty queasy around them.”
Volunteers encouraged the uncertain woman to give Tweaks a chance: “At first she said, ‘No, no – I don’t think I like rats,'” Rosenthal said. “But [the volunteers] said, ‘You should come in and meet him – he’s exceptional.'”
And she did. She told me yesterday, ‘I’m so glad I did because after holding him, and knowing how affectionate he is, you can’t help but fall in love with him.’”
And there ends the story of the Rat Pack. They now live in rural Wisconsin with a family who loves them all. Seeing the trio leave was difficult for the shelter staff and volunteers, but they’re glad the animals are happy and together.
“For all of our staff, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Rosenthal said. “We’ve all gotten very attached to the threesome, but we’re just very excited that they’re going home.”
The mother daughter pair couldn’t believe how many lives the pack has reached:
“They have touched a lot of hearts other than just mine and I am grateful and feel very privileged to be able to be a part of this,” Berens said.