Pet Shop School Rat
As part of our committment to improving education about the needs of companion animals (pets to you and me) and to raise the profile of our pet shop, we run a “Pets In Schools Programme”. One of the schools that has participated in the past is Churchdown Parton Manor Junior School.
I don’t know who can remember Twinkle the pet shop rat, who lived in the shop.
Twinkle was the first animal to be placed under this scheme and he went to school at Churchdown. He proved so popular that the school kept asking for him back, term after term. Eventually, like most of us, he began to slow up as he got older. We retired him after about three terms (he was about a year old when he started his teaching career) and he ended his days as a stud along with Swiss Tony – the other pet shop rat (a shame that career path isn’t open to people really) in Henry’s breeding colony. Many of you who have been to our pet shop will now be the proud owners of their progeny.
Anyway, the school contaced us again last term and asked if they could have another rat for a term (yeh, right! I’ll never see that back again).
This time we took a female naked rat, who we named Janet. You may have seen her and her sisters in the pet shop. Where did the name come from? I didn’t tell the kids but it’s from Susan Sarandon’s character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Janet Weiss, who spends most of the film semi naked. I thought it was apt and I had to think of a name quick as we don’t name the animals in the shop (we get too attached).
I introduced her to the school during a whole school special assembly that I was invited to give on animal care.
I’m of the opinion that the job of a pet shop is not just to sell animals. I think we have a responsibilty to educate and to help people to do the best for their animals. We don’t charge for the service; the talks or the “Pets In Schools” programme. Sometimes someone will come into the shop off the back of a visit, sometimes not but hopefully the kids (and the teachers) learn something that will make the animals that may come into their care at some point healthier, happier and more content.
We are a pet shop
We do sell animals but only with the information you need to properly care for it and not just to comply with our pet shop licence. The talks and other schemes are to help those who have bought animals from a pet shop who, perhaps, didn’t care as much, or take their responsibilities seriously (you know who you are, grrrrr).
You wouldn’t believe how many animals in and around Churchdown are called Twinkle now (his name lives on). I wonder how many will soon be called Janet after another Gloucester pet shop rat. If you want any information on caring for rats speak to any of the team. We have all kept rodents and George and Henry both have bred rats for the pet shop.