I have an Associates degree in Liberal Arts from Lansing Community College and then went on to Davenport University after that working on a BA in Business Management.
I retired from Michigan state government in October of 2002, with 25 years of devoted service.
For 18 years I was the head supervisor of both the daytime and nighttime shifts for the Department of Education's Data Entry Unit. I'm very fast on a keyboard, typing 23,000 keystrokes an hour!, lol.
When all the departments merged their technology departments into one new department I became an office supervisor for the technology Help Desk and a Department Trainer. I trained people on how to use the Internet and do web searches, word processing and computer file management.
I then moved up in the technology department where I was a graphics artist, web developer and, web publisher. I created and published the departments first student's web site known as the Student's Corner. I thoroughly enjoy anything to do with working with children. That is why working with this kind of small pet has been very rewarding for me.
I got my start breeding pet rats in March of 2002, after rescuing and raising two female wild Norwegian rats, I affectionately named Hurkie and Ruggie.
I loved my wild little fur friends very much and they were very bonded to me. Since I was the first thing they saw and they had been hand feed them with an eye dropper, I "imprinted" on them very much like horses or ducks do. They thought I was their Mother. If I had rescued them after their eyes had opened there wouldn't have been that kind of bond. I was truly blessed.
To remind me of my humble beginnings my email name is "NorwegianRattie" and I use this when I'm on forums or other pet rat related activities. I feel raising two wild rats was the greatest blessing and gift, but it was a chance meeting and I would never recommend anyone purposefully try to capture and raise a wild rat. It is always risky when working with wild animals, as they will always have their natural wild instincts functioning in their lives.
Since I started breeding I've traveled down a winding road. The breeding community is very political in nature and you have to follow all the correct procedures and guidelines or other breeders can really give you a hard time and even outcast you.
I've always beat to a different drummer. I have to try things, formulate my own opinions. I don't follow the crowd. I am independant in my thinking. So in past years I think many breeders may have seen me as a bit of a rebel, lol.
I have been breeding pet rats for nearly eleven years now. I specialize in pet rat behavior. As of this writing I've raised over 1400 baby rats. To become an expert in my field I've had to test others theories for their accuracy. I've found many principles set in place by so called "experts" to just not hold up as fact when put into real world applications. It kind of reminds me of how everyone once thought the world was flat until one brave person stepped forward willing to risk his life to prove that information was just not accurate. Thank goodness for Columbus or we wouldn't be living in America, lol!
At one time I was the president and founder of a club known as The Michigan Fancy Rat Association, or MFRA and my club was a member of the organization known as the RSA (Rat Society of America).
I still have the web site online, (www.mifancyrat.org) but it is now a resource portal and no longer an actual club.
While I was a member of the RSA I went to two days of formal training in Kansas City, Missouri in April of 2004 to learn how to be a pet rat show judge. I learned a lot of valuable information from other breeders with more expertise than myself and learned about the different colors and markings of pet rats, but especially the conformation of pet rats.
Some of the things I learned are: A good quality pet rat should have a short turned up nose without any overbite. You should not be able to see it's front teeth. If it has dumbo ears the ears should be round and not elf shaped. If it has rex fur, the fur needs to be tightly curled. The eyes need to be large and wide set.
It is hard to find pet rats with all these qualities working at the same time and I'm committed to improving the overall pet rat, both in health, temperament and conformation.
My wild Norwegian rats had perfect conformation. This is how nature intended a rat to be and look like. Years of inbreeding in domesticated lines has caused many breeders lines to have extended length to their pets noses, causing overbites. To see a good example of what a pet rat should look like as far as nose, ears and eyes, a rat with perfect conformation, look at Zeus. He was from my Norwegian lines.
Some of my current pet rats still display this excellence in conformation, though I've had to outcross with others domesticated lines and have lost some of the quality because of it.
I am a behavioral advisor in a social club known as GLFRA (The Great Lakes Fancy Rat Association). I am also a member of the American Rat Club, (ARC) ARC is a newer club that encompasses many rat breeders from across the country as well as people who just love pet rats.I register all my pet rats with NARR, the (North American Rat Registry) and RatsReg (Rats Registry - Reaching Across The States). These are the two main national registries, as of this writing.
I have done various presentations at libraries and in school classrooms educating the students on proper care and handling of pet rats. I love working with kids and promoting pet rats as the great companions they really are!
For me, it's not just about trying to supply the general public with great pets rats, but I want to educate them about proper care and handling also. I have mini classroom sessions with all my adopters when the come to pick up their pets. It's not about just sending them out the door. I want to make sure my little fur friends thrive in their new environments, educating their new parents helps to assure their continued happiness.