New homes for rubber rodents

Oh, ye of little faith…

Three months ago when I proposed humanely winnowing down The Reporter’s newsroom herd of leftover rubber rats from past Halloweens, several of my cynical colleagues – and not a few members of the public – opined that my efforts to find adoptive homes for our decorative rodents would be in vain.

“Dude, nobody’s going to want to take home an ol’ beat up rubber rat that some sportswriter’s spilled cheap bourbon on,” declared one decidedly skeptical newsroom denizen. “Face it, we’re stuck with ’em.”

Admittedly, many of our older rubber rodents – gathered during seasonal Halloween rat consumer-testing forays – were clearly the worse for wear. Some were downright, er, ratty…

And at least two of the hardy Halloween icons had been batted about the newsroom with rackets during an impromptu game of ratminton several years ago.

(No, this sport never caught on at the Olympics. A pity…)


Considering the amount of joy even the most ragged rubber rat can bring into an otherwise dull and lifeless household, though, I decided to press forward in my effort to share the beady-eyed, pointy-tailed surplus with our readers.

I was not disappointed. The sometimes quirky but lovable community of Vacaville came through again and the rubber rats that were overrunning our newsroom in mid-October are now down to a manageable number.

Thanks to several big-hearted Vacans – and one entire kindergarten class – no fewer than nine of our resident rats have new homes and we have room to walk around without stepping on one of the pesky critters which, unlike real, live rats, do not get out of the way when you’re rushing out to cover a drive-by shooting or pick up a pizza.

Among the adoptive Vacans who answered the call were Harry Coburn, Kathy Domenech and Katelin Whipple.

Perhaps the most notable rubber rat adoption, however, was made by Linda Patrick’s kindergarten class at Sierra Vista School.

Shortly after our adoption notice was published, the class wrote to us requesting a classroom rat:

“We are kindergarten kids.

We cannot have live critters.

We want to adopt a rat.

We will love him

And not get the jitters.”

The kindergartners eventually adopted one of our larger, “museum quality” rats and promptly renamed him “Sponge Bob Ratso” because of two strikingly yellow front teeth that reminded them of one of their favorite cartoon characters.

Mrs. Patrick’s 20-member class also presented the newsroom with its own “Sponge Bob Ratso” coloring book featuring a series of striking rodent portraits suitable for, er, inclusion in a rubber rat coloring book…

Gratifying? You bet! After all, how many other daily newspapers in the United States can boast of receiving their very own celebrity rubber rodent coloring book?

Eat your heart out, Los Angeles Times…

Originally published January 25, 2015