Saturday, August 31, 2019

Summer 2019: Rainbows, Reading, & Rescue

Vincent the Therapy Rat

This summer has been CRAZY! From going on TV, radio, being featured in newspapers, magazines, and online articles, to finishing up our Reading Rats program, and even rescuing a pet rat in distress!
Time for another (somewhat) seasonal blog post! I'm working to get this website more informational, but life has been hectic. Feel free to follow us on social media for more up-to-date posts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr


Pepperell Elementary Visit


Vincent the Therapy Rat at Pepperell Elementary School

Back in March 2019, we visited special needs students at Pepperell Elementary along with two other awesome therapy dog teams. I was a bit nervous because Vincent hadn't visited in a while and especially in a complex environment.

The students were wonderful and even amongst controlled chaos, Vincent was super chill. I couldn't have asked for a better visit! All kinds of distractions, loud noises, lots of movement, Vincent didn't mind and did his thing.

Montessori Homestead


We visited our local homeschool group once a month until they broke out for summer vacation. They all did such a great job! Really proud of these kids and very thankful for their wonderful teachers.

Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Writing their name in their new book!
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Gifting Vincent some yummy eggs!

Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Photo by Jennifer Cromer
Vincent is so thankful for his eggs

Vincent the Therapy Rat Read With Me Reading Rats at Montessori Homestead
Thank you for having us!

Pet Partners Interactions Magazine


We were featured in Pet Partners' Interaction Magazine for the Spring 2019 issue! They contacted me about an article they were writing about the different species allowed in their organization.

Vincent the Therapy Rat with Pet Partners Interactions Magazine

Vincent the Therapy Rat with Pet Partners Interactions Magazine

Spring Finals Week


Georgia Highlands Rome Campus


 

Georgia Highlands Cartersville Campus



Georgia Highlands Paulding Campus


I forgot to get a photo/video at the event, but here is Vincent taking a bath beforehand!

Vincent the Therapy Rat taking a bath

Darlington School 




Rats Make Me Boggle


Vincent the Therapy Rat Rats Make Me Boggle T-shirt

To help with fundraising, we (meaning me and my sister) came up with an awesome shirt design! (Blog post here). We were originally wanting to go to the Pet Partners conference, but unexpected complications came up and we were not financially able to go. Either way, you can still get the shirt here! We also have more boggle merch over on our Etsy!

Abby Chesnut with a Rats Make Me Boggle T-Shirt


People Pets Therapy Animal Day Feature


People Logo

For Therapy Animal Day (April 30th), we were featured in an online article for People Pets. Yes, the same people who do People magazine, but their pet section! Feel free to read the article here.

Vincent the Therapy Rat featured in People Pets for Therapy Animal Day

WGMI 1440 The Train - Bremen, Georgia


Vincent the Therapy Rat at WGMI 1440 The Train

Last year, we visited Jerry Segal when we were nominated for our BlogPaws award. I rung him up again to see if he was interested in talking with us again. He was very excited to see us again so we went down to Bremen to talk with him. There are five parts, but here is part one of our broadcast...



Vincent the Therapy Rat and Abby Chesnut at WGMI 1440 The Train

Vincent the Therapy Rat with Jerry Segal at WGMI 1440 The Train

Pup a Palooza

This was an event to celebrate the grand opening of Rome, GA's new dog park. and we were there with Compassionate Paws. It was on Cinco de Mayo, so here is Vincent with a poncho!
Vincent the Therapy Rat celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Vincent's Balloon Stickers


Vincent the Therapy Rat with Vincent's Balloon Stickers

We are selling Vincent's Balloon Stickers over on our Etsy!

Senior Inforum - Rome News-Tribune Front Page Feature

Vincent and I went to a big event for seniors and we were a hit. I was surprised at how well he was perceived and we even made the front page of our local newspaper! You can read the article online here.
Vincent the Therapy Rat in the Rome News Tribune

WLTZ 38 Columbus, Georgia and The Dee Armstrong Show


Vincent the Therapy Rat and Abby Chesnut on WLTZ First News

Last year, we were on The Dee Armstrong Show which is a Facebook live hosted by one of the news anchors for WLTZ 38 in Columbus, Georgia. I contacted her to see if she wanted to see us again and we were scheduled to go on the 6:00 news as well as her FB live!
Vincent the Therapy Rat and Abby Chesnut with Dee Armstrong

I don't have footage of the news program, but it was very short and a bit misleading. They kind of teased it as rats being service animals, so before anything else was said and the camera was on me, I corrected and explained what a therapy animal was. 

Vincent the Therapy Rat on WLTZ First News Columbus Georgia

As frustrating as that was, the Facebook live went great! It was a lot more lax and Dee had some great questions. You can see the broadcast below...

Anna K. Davie Elementary School Career Day Visit


Vincent the Therapy Rat at Anna K. Davie Elementary School

Our therapy group was invited to participate in a Career Day event at a local elementary school. Vincent has a very interesting career so we gladly came over and spoke with over 150 students about therapy rats alongside another therapy dog team who gave some great tips about how to approach dogs.

The Foundry Fundraiser Event


One of our local downtown bars in Rome, Georgia hosted a fundraising event for Compassionate Paws. For each pint sold, a portion would go towards our therapy group. We had a lot of fun meeting new folks!


Metro.co.uk Online Article


Metro Logo

The lifestyle editor for Metro.co.uk, Ellen Scott, contacted me via Instagram asking if she could do a story on Vincent. I was very excited to say the least and send her some information. The article was published on May 21st and has become very popular. You can read it here.

Vincent the Therapy Rat featured on Metro.co.uk

Introducing Franklin & Wyatt


Franklin and Wyatt Therapy Rats in Training

So I had been on the lookout for babies since Springtime since I'm trying to keep the cycle of therapy rats going and they need 6 months of training before working and I'd like to retire my working therapy rat between a year and a half and 2 years old. I found a new breeder called Maddie's Ratties and got to talking to them. She already knew my work and I told her my concerns and wants. 


Wyatt Therapy Rat in Training
Wyatt

Franklin Therapy Rat in Training
Franklin

I ended up adopting these two boys who I named Franklin and Wyatt. Franklin is a black dumbo rat and Wyatt is an agouti dumbo rat. I adopted them at 1 month old (just after being weaned) so if one of them works out as a therapy rat I would be able to test with them after November 26th (6 months to train).


When I got the boys they were both so very sweet and cuddled in my arms! It took a while for their personalities to come through, but they are very similar to Xavier and Vincent. Franklin is more easy-going like Vincent and Wyatt is a bit more domineering like Xavier.

Franklin and Wyatt Therapy Rats in Training

Compassionate Paws Meet & Greets


Vincent the Therapy Rat eating a brownie at a Compassionate Paws Meet and Greet

We had a couple of meetings in Rockmart and Cedartown to try to gather more people interested in joining Compassionate Paws. Vincent thought it was a great opportunity to eat snacks.

Farmer's Market


Wyatt the therapy rat in training at a farmer's market

An outdoor farmer's market is a great place to get your rats used to outside environments. One of my friends volunteered to help me so that I could socialize both boys at the same time. I had a little carrier where I put one rat in and let her hold it, while I took one rat around in the basket. That way I alternated and both boys got a bit of training. 

Franklin the therapy rat in training at a farmer's market

It actually went really well and got me pinpointed on training Franklin since he did the best. Wyatt freaked out a good bit, but that wasn't enough for disqualification of becoming the next therapy rat. Just means he would need more training in the long run. Overall though, Franklin was calmer and did absolutely wonderful. 

Pride Rome, GA


I was really excited to hear that there would be a Pride event here in Rome and since it would be hosted at a dog-friendly outdoor bar I thought that Vincent would fit right in - and I was right! I was really happy to support something I believe in and have Vincent be a part of it.


Wyatt's Neuter



Wyatt the therapy rat in training after being neutered
Wyatt feeling good after surgery

Wyatt started getting into more fights as hormones started to kick in and it was becoming quite a problem. We decided to separate him and get him neutered to try and calm him down. It can take a while before seeing results, so crossing my fingers that we can get him back with his brothers, but because he has bitten another domesticated animal he sadly cannot become a therapy animal. Thankfully, Franklin hasn't had any of these issues and lives just fine with Xavier and Vincent.

Reading Rats


Throughout the summer, I did our reading program I nicknamed "Reading Rats" over at the Chattooga County Library in Summerville, Georgia. We visited once every other week and invited kids in grade school to come and read with us. Once a child read with us 4 times, they got to pick a book that was donated to us thanks to you guys.

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

I have to admit, it was a bit disheartening at times because this is a very small library and town and even though we had a signup sheet, we had a lot of no shows and Vincent became pretty bored at times.

Vincent the Therapy Rat helping a child with a puzzle
Vincent putting together a puzzle with a friend while we wait

But usually we would get at least one of two kids and it made it all worth it. We met a lot of friends and had a lot of wonderful moments.

Vincent the Therapy Rat and Abby Chesnut reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library
The library staff surprised us with this display at our reading spot

Because we were scheduled to move sometime after August, I decided to go ahead and end the program in Summerville and have Vincent go into Semi-Retirement. Reading Rats will probably be booted back up for our next therapy rat, but Vincent very likely won't be doing any more events. He's getting older and looking pretty rough. Even one of our readers commented to his mom that Vincent didn't look like Vincent anymore.

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent's Reading Rats adventure was fun, but now for some relaxing time at home! Here are some more photos from our summer reading...

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

Vincent the Therapy Rat and Abby Chesnut reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library
Thank you for having us!

Kingston


Kingston the Rescue Rat

So I'm watching Netflix with my partner and his dad comes upstairs and shows me this picture of a skinny pet rat outside. He said that one of his coworkers spotted this guy outside his house in Kingston, Georgia and has been feeding him for a couple of days. "If he can catch him I can find him a home". It was already late, but I couldn't sleep that night knowing this rat was living outside.

Kingston the Rescue Rat trying to be caught by Abby Chesnut
Getting down and dirty

In the next few days I go over there with some ideas. The hard part was that the rat was living in this drainage pipe and coming out of a part where it was broken. With the help of my partner and the homeowner, we dripped some tuna dog food topper through the holes on top and enticed him to come to the opening.

Kingston the Rescue Rat in the pipe
This is all I could see and I stared down this pipe for the longest

I planned to lift up a Mountain Dew box once he got inside of it, but he managed to get right up to the opening of the box, lick a bunch of the food, look at me, lick his lips, then turned right around into the pipe. SO FRUSTRATING!

the ratmobile has a busted radiator

I went to Tractor Supply and bought the smallest spring trap I could find, but it ended up still being too big for such a lightweight rat. On the way home the car I was borrowing had a huge radiator leak. Just my luck. 

Trying to catch Kingston the Rescue Rat

I told the homeowner to keep feeding him and I ended up buying a humane rat trap online. Once I got it in person I was a little hesitant because it was pretty small. I tried it on Wyatt and it seemed to work, but the tail keeps the trap from closing all the way. When I got to the house I was thankful that it fits snuggly in the opening. I put more food in there, covered it with a towel, and waited in the car for a while. I go and check on it and I'm flabbergasted to see the little booger in there. I fumbled and he managed to back out of the trap. I set it up again and waited there.

Kingston the Rescue Rat caught in a trap

I knew where he was in the pipe thanks to his respiratory infection. I could hear his little lungs! My heart was beating so hard once he got closer to the trap and once his whole body was in there I tilted it and lifted it up so he couldn't back out. CAUGHT HIM! I quickly transferred him over to a small kennel and excitedly told the homeowners.

Kingston the Rescue Rat being transported home

I had already dubbed him "Kingston" since he was in Kingston, Georgia. Just fit him perfectly! When I brought him home I took a lot of time getting to know him.

Kingston the Rescue Rat being held

He was oh so very skinny and he had a bad case of the sniffles but he was quite sweet. (I was very cautious at first because the homeowner said he bit him while trying to grab him. I later confirmed that Kingston bit a glove and did not break skin or anything, so If I decide he is a good fit for therapy work I could continue to do so.) The very next morning I called the vet to set up an appointment.

Kingston the Rescue Rat being looked at by Melissa Edwards at Animal Medical Center of Rome

Kingston the Rescue Rat being looked at by Melissa Edwards at Animal Medical Center of Rome

Kingston the Rescue Rat being looked at by Melissa Edwards at Animal Medical Center of Rome

Kingston the Rescue Rat being looked at by Melissa Edwards at Animal Medical Center of Rome


The soonest appointment they had was one where we drop him off so I asked the staff to take some photos for me. Turns out the only issue he had was a bad respiratory infection and he was very skinny. No parasites or anything! We were given an antibiotic to give twice a day and he is on the mend. A big THANK YOU to Animal Medical Center of Rome and everyone who donated towards his vet bill. We were able to cover it completely thanks to y'all!

Kingston the Rescue Rat in his new home

We think Kingston was released as a feeder. People buy young rats to feed their reptiles and sometimes when they don't eat the rat they release them. Pet rats cannot live on their own. The only reason Kingston survived was because of the kind homeowner who fed him every day. He is a really sweet boy still learning how to be a rat!

Kingston the Rescue Rat at home

At first, a lot of people asked if we were going to keep him. Well, I got attached and my partner got attached to him. So it's a safe bet he has a forever home. Now, will he become a therapy rat? We have to wait 6 months so in that time we will see!

Ratmobile Fundraiser


Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were left without a vehicle and I turned to our Healing Whiskers fans for help. Because I mean, without a car how were we going to go to therapy events? I was blown away with the number of donations we received and we were able to put 1k down on a vehicle. I literally couldn't have done that without y'alls help and I am truly grateful!

Vincent the Therapy Rat with the Ratmobile

Reading Rats Donations


I want to thank those who have donated books to us for our Reading Rats program! We currently aren't accepting any books since the program is on hold, but we will let everyone know once we need more.

Vincent the Therapy Rat with donated books
Books from Tabitha C

Vincent the Therapy Rat with donated books
Books from Amy W.

TikTok


We have a TikTok now, so go take a look at some of the content we've made over there! Our account is "healingwhiskers". I have A LOT of ideas so be on the lookout for lots of content over there. Here's my 2nd ever TikTok that has become quite popular...


Feel free to scan our TikTok code!

As I type, our little family is moving to a new location closer to Atlanta, Georgia so I'm hoping that we can do more work, but then again I am also looking for a full-time job. Can I get the best of both worlds? We will see. I want to thank everyone for their support! 

Vincent the Therapy Rat reading with kids at the Chattooga County Library

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