Kylo and Ren hang out in their cage.

When I was roughly 12 years old, my grandmother, Violet Riffe, asked me to help her clean. How could I say no?

She offered incentive: $6 to dust her tables. When I finished my 10 minutes of hard labor, I asked if she would take me to spend my $6. With much enthusiasm we trotted off to her pink Cadillac.

With no real destination in mind, I finally came to the decision to go to the pet store. What could six bucks possibly get me in a pet store? I didn’t know, but I was absolutely determined. We surveyed the room. Hamsters, gerbils, birds ... and then there he was, all alone. Black beady eyes and a gray hood. LIVE SNAKE FOOD. Snake food?! My little animal lover’s heart raced. I could never allow such injustice to occur. I looked at the price: $5.50. Granny, this is the one. She looked at me with absolute dread, but she never told me no. So out we walked with a hooded rat, in a tiny box covered in holes.

We first decided to write a will, because we knew my mother, Waletta Riffe, would disown us both, and then possibly run my dad, Rick Riffe, a Boyd County Sheriff, over with a car, even though he had nothing to do with it. In the will we asked, if we should be spared, to live under the Ashland Bridge and be brought Chick-fil-A on Mondays. We hopped back into the pink Cadillac and headed to my mom’s workplace, where I proceeded to show her my new best friend.

Well, you can imagine how that went. But it wasn’t long until this furry sir named Templeton became a true staple of the family. He rode around on the back of my cat Pequod and every day he waited by the door for me to get home from school. He sat on my shoulder most of the time. He always escaped his cage so we nicknamed him “Houdini.”

For a few years, he came and went through the house as he pleased, eating his favorite snack, a Triscuit behind our TV. One night my dad slept on the couch after working a midnight shift and he felt someone staring at him. Sure enough, Templeton had gotten out and climbed up on the couch with him.

After three wonderful years of life, little Templeton went across the Rainbow Bridge. We buried him in a Triscuit box and I vowed I would never own another rat. Fast-forward to a few days ago when my best friend, Holly James, sent me an article about some rats that had been born to the owners’ surprise.

I knew then I had to go get one. I actually got two new furry best rat pals from the Snyder family, who live just next door to my Grandmother Menshouse. My three sons have named them Kylo and Ren. So the saga continues and I can’t wait to make more special memories with our new rats!

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