There are no photographs of Star. She was an unhandlable chinchilla we rescued when I was younger. I tried. I really tried to give her what she needed, emotionally, but she was already too damaged by the time she came to us. I would sit for hours, reading with an arm in her cage to try to get her to trust me. She was a beautiful creature, soft and (eventually) even sort of affectionate. But she and I were never close, though it broke my heart when we had to have her put down because of a malignant tumor.
The thing is, though, I suspect a lot of that heartbreak was guilt. Guilt for not really understanding her emotional pain enough to help her. Guilt for not noticing the tumor sooner because she didn’t like to be handled. Guilt because she lived and died alone. Guilt for selfishly thinking that I could make her better when I should have tried to find someone else who would have been able to handle her better.
I know now. I know how to rehabilitate traumatized animals. I know where to look for advice and that there is no shame in asking for help. I know that her death, though tragic, was only partially my fault.
The story of chinchillas Luna and Aysel is based on Star’s rescue. They are removed from an animal hoarder and taken to a rescue center, from the rescue, they are rehomed somewhere that they have lots of food and room and can dust-bath to their heart’s content.
There are a lot of mammals kept as pets in inadequate conditions all around the world, and the tragedy is that they don’t need to be. We have access to care information now that we didn’t have 15-20 years ago. We have a better understanding of the psychology of hoarding, too, and there is help available.
Luna and Asyel’s book is available to pre order now and will be available at the beginning of November. We are still looking for a charity to support with this book, so if you know of any animal charities that might be interested, tweet me @emmasattics
Original featured image found here https://www.flickr.com/photos/midhras/21412113753