Hello! I am Abby Chesnut and I am a pet product influencer, merchandiser, avid animal lover, and therapy rat handler from Rome, GA with 2 dogs and 2 rats. I started my college education in Animal Science at Berry College but left after chronic migraines kept me from participating. At Berry, I worked at the sheep barn and even in the interlibrary loan department in the library.
After getting mostly back on my feet, I started a pet product review blog called The Chesnut Mutts. During this time, I also became a rat mom with two boys named Everett and Delmar which I took with me to public events like pet conferences and local parades.
I met a local therapy animal group called Compassionate Paws at one event. I was amazed to find out that rats could indeed become therapy animals and after that, I was dedicated to training one of my next rats for this task. I was disappointed in the fact there was little to no information on training therapy rats. Healing Whiskers was started to share therapy rat information and adventures to help future handlers and the rat community.
Learn more about why I chose to work with rats!
Oliver is a male Russian Blue Wheaten Burmese Dumbo Fancy Rat, a.k.a., a domesticated rat with grayish coloring and big ol' ears! He was born April 2016 in South Carolina and has a brother named Jasper.
Oliver really loves his work and is the chillest rat you will ever meet. Head rubs, watermelon, corn, and the very rare mini cupcake are all wonderful in his (tiny) book.
Oliver and I have been a registered therapy team with Pet Partners and Compassionate Paws since February 2017 and have mostly been to colleges and public events. During our visits, we love to educate others about rats and challenge the stigma that surrounds them.
We lost Oliver as well as his brother Jasper in March of 2018 due to presumed organ failure and old age. His legacy lives on as we train another rat (or two) for therapy work.
Learn more about therapy rats!