Follow by Email

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rat race

One of the dreams I have for our family is to eventually own our own home in Israel.  (A dream that would have been much easier if the selling market of our old Kansas house had not, unfortunately been below the buying market from a few years earlier.  But that's okay, you take your opportunities and make worthwhile trade-offs).  I don't fantasize about a yard or covered parking because unless we set up a very successful crowdfunding campaign, we will be lucky to buy our current apartment which has neither.  Real estate in Israel is so expensive.  It's like the entire country is San Francisco or Manhattan.  The Upper East Side of Manhattan.  It's a funny thing if you stop and think about it.  Surrounded by hostile neighbors, held responsible for most of the world's problems, can't keep a government together, and yet buying a home is so expensive.  I probably should have paid more attention in my economics classes (hey Mala!) but I don't get it.  Anyway, I do dream of a place of our own where we can decide what we want to do and not worry about having to move again, but sometimes it's good to be a renter.

And when, you might find yourself asking, is it good to be a renter?  When your kids beg for a dog.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't have anything against dogs.  I grew up with the world's loveliest Golden Retriever--Ruby Tuesday.  But some days it seems like our little human family of 5 has a very full plate, and if we had one more thing to take care of, Oy! (That's me justifying the blog title).  So I've kind of enjoyed our landlord's policy of no pets.  But darn if my wily kids didn't grab the landlord in person during a rare appearance, and wear the man down.  Finally, he agreed to allow caged pets.  Enter Kitty and Oreo.  The newest non-human members of our family.  Once we got the green light from our landlord, Michael started researching our pet options and his investigation led him to the conclusion that rats make amazing pets.  Yes Rats.  I actually became convinced.  They're so intelligent and friendly.  You can train them, you can love them.  And they will love you back. And they will use a litter box and come when called.

Once we were all in agreement that rats would make great pets (I say rats in the plural because like Lay's potato chips, you can't have just one--they get depressed and die without a companion), we got a little stuck in the practicalities.  I have no basis for comparison as I never tried to purchase a rat in the US, but here in Israel we couldn't find a pet store that sold rats.  When we called to inquire, they always agreed that rats do make excellent pets but no they didn't know where we could buy one.  How about a nice hamster?  My detective work led us to an animal menagerie outside of Rehovot that did in fact sell rats.  Mostly to people with pet snakes, but no matter.  We found them.

In retrospect, my interest may have been a touch more theoretical, which is probably why the actual going to get the rats happened during my last work trip.  Yes friends, while there was an ocean to separate us, my family bought pet rats.   To get to this animal menagerie you have to drive down a very long dirt road (I have since returned there to buy rat food!) and I mean a loooooong dirt road.  Two years of being here make it so normal to have to go off paved roads to find what you're looking for.  And if people are doing 3-point turns or  U-turns on that road--again, not a big deal.   But some dirt roads are longer, and more potentially frightening to someone who hopes their car will retain some value, than others.

My Bubbie's response when she heard we got pet rats:  "Most of the world is paying someone to rid their home of rats and you guys are paying to give them a home!?!?!?!"    Ha!  If she only knew.  Our rats have a hammock--homemade mazes, specialized food and a lot of love from 3 kids--who somehow can't be found when it's time to clean the cage.


  1. It's funny but rats are beloved here in the SF Bay area! I remember seeing them in a few stores and asking if they were snake food and the pet store employees getting very angry and saying that these rats were not at all sold for food! They were so offended and furious that I would even suggest such a thing. They said that the rats were sold as pets but I didn't bother to hear why so I'm glad you have explained it and that is really interesting! I want to hear more.

    1. Thanks Amy. I can't say the trend has completely caught on here but they do make great pets.