goodbye to a dear friend 12

a good good boy

a good good boy

Yesterday I said goodbye to my dear friend, Denali (Beef). On Sunday evening, as the moon eclipsed and meteors raced across the brilliant New Mexico night sky, I steeled myself for a visit to the vet the next day. I knew it was probably time to say goodbye, so I just made sure I let him know how loved he was. We camped out in a baseball dugout in San Jon, NM that night, and in the morning as we got up for coffees at the nearby gas station, Denali and I spent some more time together, giving scritches and kisses.

Beef is too handsome for his own good.

We rode out to Tucumcari, about twenty-four miles away. It was a really beautiful ride through the desert, on old Route 66, with hardly a car in sight.

Beef got to run around the schoolyard in the morning when we woke up in Britton. He immediately went to play in the bundles of rebar lying around, and used his super camouflage skills.

I had talked with the vet that morning to make sure he could be seen. When we got into town, my phone said it was just before one, when the office would be closed for lunch till two. We wouldn’t be able to make it to the far side of town by then, so we stopped for groceries (we’re in a food desert as well), and loitered around.

We stopped for lunch and rat snuggles at one of the other shelters earlier in the day.

Just after two, we continued out to vet’s office, on the remote west side of town. When we pulled up, there was a sign on the door saying they were out to lunch. I checked my watch; it was just after one. My phone, which had correctly switched to Mountain time as we passed into New Mexico the day before, had reverted to Central, effectively giving us another hour.



he held still for once

he held still for once

We sat on the porch and Stink and I both loved up the old boy. He ate some sugary sweet baby food mixed with frosting off my finger, and did some impressive eye boggling and teeth grinding displays (that’s how rats show pleasure, don’t ask me why, I’ve always found it really silly).

Picture or a picture Greg Simple took of Liz and Beef at ACHQ

famous tour rat

When the vets and techs all came back from lunch, we went in and him checked out while I filled the vet in on all the recent issues, his age, and info from the vet last week.

sweet beef

sweet beef

Lizz teaches kids about rats

A lesson in rat ownership

We could try and give him some steroid shots, or just let him go. I don’t think the steroids would’ve been able to help much, and it was already tough seeing him struggle to get around and sit up without using his back legs (a common issue among geriatric rats). I had come prepared to have him put to sleep if needed, and the vet agreed that it would probably be the best thing for him.

That doesn’t make it an easy decision though.

I was there with him the whole time, and sooner than I’d have ever liked, he was gone.

I wrapped him up in my bandana and we biked out into the surrounding dessert, till a spot called out to me. Stink and I both put together some mementos, flowers, rocks, and such. I wrote him a little note, laid him to rest, and covered him with earth in the shade of a tree. I topped his grave with a large feather I’d been carrying with me this week, and a small piece of turquoise my great granddaddy had polished.

we liked to snug on the hammock together back at home

we liked to snug on the hammock together back at home

I’m glad to have been his pal, and to have had his near constant companionship for the past two years. Denali was the best ratboy you could’ve ever asked for, and he was loved by people far and wide. He changed people who never thought they could love a rat, and won hearts along the way.
Especially mine.

Rat gets pets

love love

Much love to my little guy. I miss him already.


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12 thoughts on “goodbye to a dear friend

  • Leslie Thrope

    I am so sorry to here this news! Denali had a great life. You both provided him with such an adventure! He was a lucky guy and you were lucky to have him with you. I bet it feels like you are missing your third wheel. Very sad!

    • withinbikingdistance Post author

      That’s exactly how it feels. We catch ourselves all the time trying to give him treats, talk to him, and things like that. Miss my little fella, but glad I got to know him.

  • Trish

    This is heartbreaking! So sorry to hear about your little man. He truly was a one of a kind rat and brought so many people together. We wouldn’t have met without Beeferton catching my eye while he was scampering around by the river in Portland. I will make a donation to watsi in his honour. Much love to you guys.

    • withinbikingdistance Post author

      I feel the same way. He especially made people who were otherwise afraid of rats realize that they’re just like any other critter, and opened many hearts in that manner. Plus, like you said, we got to meet rat people like you! Thank you for the Watsi donation, if only that person knew it was inspired by a rat ๐Ÿ˜‰