Heather Craig’s two pets get along well. Really well

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 21, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

Like a tiny, furry, albino cowboy, Orianna’s red eyes survey her surroundings as she rides her canine companion down a sidewalk at Churchill Plaza.

And she does it like it’s no big deal.

“My hands were full, so I put her on his back,” explains Heather Craig, owner of both the rat and the dog. “She stayed.”

Also critical was that Hickory, Craig’s seven-year-old Australian shepherd, didn’t seem to mind.

But for the occasional shake when Orianna “tickles him in some way” Hickory seems content to allow the albino dumbo rat to nestle in his fur.

At first, it was handy. When it wasn’t convenient for Orianna to be in her usual spot in the hood of Craig’s sweatshirt, Craig would place her pet rat on the dog.

These days, though, the odd couple are turning heads as people notice them out and about.

Craig takes them for walks around the neighbourhood, and Ori, as she’s known to those close to her, hangs out on Hickory’s back at Pet Food Warehouse while Craig goes about her work as a groomer there.

Ori is Craig’s first domestic rat. She has had Hickory for years, but couldn’t resist taking Ori home this summer after she was born at the pet store.

Prospective pet owners often avoid rats – wrongly believing they are dirty or prone to biting their owners, said Craig. She said Ori was missing an ear and was born without pigment.

“People have a thing about the red eyes,” said Craig. “It’s kind of three strikes, so I bought her.”

She said she wishes she’d had a domestic rat sooner. Contrary to popular lore, pet rats actually seek out human attention and affection, unlike hamsters, she said.

Craig had hamsters as a child and “they bit the dickens out of me.”

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