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Why do we do it ?
I remember the story my father told me. He was thirteen when Nazi Germany occupied the part of Russia where he lived with his family. His father, the war journalist, was killed during the first days of war while gathering information for his last report (a story of its own...), and the mother and children had to flee from their home. They walked, lost in a large crowd of refugees, scared, hungry, homeless. While spending one night in some abandoned barn, my father found a baby mouse, who was also hungry and scared. He kept the animal in his pocket, sharing scraps of food with him. The animal used to go out during the nights, but always came back to the boy's pocket at daybreak. My father remembered his little friend all his life, and his story was the one I, as a child, wanted to hear over and over again...
Our family kept many animals, but somehow we never had a rat. My first rat came to me when I was all grown up. One day, on a busy bus stop in Moscow, I saw an albino rat on the ground. The animal looked lost, and apparently was trying to approach the humans. The people on the bus stop were screaming and jumping away from "the beast". I picked the rat up, and she immediately crawled in my sleeve and snuggled there.  I brought the rat home, but she died the same night - help came too late. The encounter made a great impact on me. The rat reminded me of an intelligent alien seeking contact with other intelligent beings, and meeting a hostile and misunderstanding race. How many times in history have people experienced the same situation? Strangers in the strange land...
Some years later, when I had already immigrated to the United States and started my medical training, I was sitting once in the dark auditorium, while my class was watching a painfully graphic movie about experiments on animals. Looking at the screen, where the rats were tortured in the name of science, I felt tortured myself - by feelings of compassion and helplessness. Then I got angry. I asked myself: why do I have to take the world order as it is made by someone else? Why can't I stand up and create the reality according to my beliefs, and my deeply felt sense of justice?
I left the lecture hall, and went directly to the pet store. I bought two sweet baby rats, and brought them home - to my daughter Sonya, whose birthday was the next day.  Little I knew what an impact these creatures will have on my life!
In the desire to find out as much as possible about rats, Sonya and I did an Internet research, and we discovered the exciting world of rat lovers - all around the globe! We decided to start breeding our pets, fully realizing the amount of work and responsibility it would require.
Our rattery grew bigger, and got more sophisticated, thanks to the wonderful rat breeders who provided us with their exquisitely beautiful rats and tons of valuable information.
We breed our rats for people who need pet companions, for families who want their children to learn compassion and responsibility, for children who want to have small playmates.
For me, our rattery is an affirmation of my beliefs. It reflects my trust in life, the unity between living creatures, the freedom to love and be loved, to play and learn, the joy of self-expression.
                           Olga Marat