Our Philosophy is simple - Mice are Companions
Companion mice are simple, but extraordinary creatures. They enable us to enter the world of mouse behaviour whilst ensuring that the general benefit of having animals as companions (or pets) is maximised.
Any animal which is considered a companion benefits most from regular contact. Spending time with them is the best way to ensure that the mice are friendly (toward both people and other mice), and responsive to their human friends. It is not only rewarding to you, as their human companion, but to the mice.
Any animal responds to affection, and mice are no different. I have had my mice actually groom me whilst sitting on my shoulder, the trademark token of affection between mice, and extended to something as huge as a human is no small gesture.
Companion mice are also to be considered independently of wild mice (commonly considered the verminous kind) and even of most regular breeding stock. Not every breeder will consider every one of their numerous mice as pets, and it is, in our opinion, an extraordinary person who can do so. But it is not impossible, and with constant interaction, a mouse will be all the companion you could ever want.
Just as a dog will come running to greet its people after they return home, so will a companion mouse. There is a special feeling to being greeted every time you pass the cage, and this only comes from treating the animal with as much affection as you would treat another member of your family.
Companion mice are underestimated in value. They should be treated the same as you would treat any animal (human or otherwise) which you care about.
Rosenberg's Companion Mice
The mice at Rosenberg Mousery are all companion mice. They are all pets and are treated with the same care, attention and respect as any animal which is considered a pet. All of the mice we breed from are all hand-tamed, extraordinarily sweet and personable animals, and are all loved as members of the family. These behavioural trends appear in their offspring, and are nurtured and encouraged. With each generation, the mice become more personable - but never to the point that they forget they are mice. We do not attempt to curb natural instinct, merely to expand it to include human interaction. This is the crux of the behaviour of the companion mouse - it's ability to successfully interact with people.
Companion Animals vs Animal Rights
There are a few things to be said, mainly to those people who deem that keeping animals as pets is 'inhumane'. While some animals are no doubt mistreated by barely human types, most of us who keep animals as pets are decent folk who love our animals as members of the family. Animal companions of this sort are regarded very highly, and usually want for very little. Most are given a lot more, and deservedly so.
This is a piece I wrote mainly in response to the number of flaming arguments currently circulating on the pet newsgroups. I never posted it, because I don't believe in arguing over the newsgroup. If you have a comment, I welcome it, otherwise I merely encourage you to read it, and make up your own mind.
A lot of people (mostly on the Newsgroups) have expressed various opinions as to the 'ownership'
of animals, in relation to animal rights and welfare (if you believe in a distinction between those two concepts),
and the assertion that it is 'inhumane' to keep animals as companions or pets.
This is a particular point which I think rattles with nearly all people who have animal companions, or pets. Whatever your veiws on vegetarianism, animal experimentation or the use of animals in circuses and zoos (which broadly covers some of the strongest arguments in favour of animal rights), the pet issue seems a touchy one, and it is an argument which lacks serious credibility among both people who have pets and most Animal Rights/Welfare Activists.
Animal companions are simply that - companions. They usually don't choose to be with us (though many people can say that a stray cat or a dog has adopted them - and what, may I ask, is the ARA answer to that?!), but we, as responsible animals ourselves, can make sure that our animals are extraordinarily happy. The most convincing argument (and I think the only argument whatsoever) against keeping pets is that most pet species only exist due to human manipulation of the animals over hundreds of years. This is regarded (by these groups) as a fundamental breach of animal rights. Whether or not this is true is matter for personal speculation. However, these groups maintain that by continuing to reap the benefits of this 'exploitation' by keeping pets, it exacerbates restriction of the rights of animals to develop normally, as 'nature' intended. There are a number of problems with this argument.
1) Most species of companion animal now do not exist in the wild. Their development is purely by human intervention over the last few hundred years. The simple fact is, now these animals DO exist, and what right does any human have to say "Oh, your existence was a mistake. You should be left alone to your own devices and thrown in the wild, where you have never been before and could rarely hope to survive." How is that responsibility? The fact that these animals exist due to human intervention makes us MORE responsible for them, not less.
2) A point which follows on from point one, is that assuming every keeper of pets was convinced to give up those pets, where are the pets going to go? What are they going to do? There is no natural habitat for a pet dog, cat, or mouse who has been abandoned, except the suburban jungle which we have created. By turning feral, this is not a reversion back to natural behaviour, but a gross mutation of behaviour which has evolved in the domestic animal over the last few hundred years. This is a blatant breach of the duty of care owed by humans to domestic animals.
3) A personal POV - to deny the existence of, and the development of the domestic animal is to ignore their rights as they exist now. Yep, you read it right. I maintain that by ARA groups arguing against keeping domestic animals as pets and companions, work animals or livestock, they demean and cheapen the nature of their existence, and refuse to acknowledge their rights as they exist now. To say that they are an abberation, is a fallacy.
There have also been arguments which state that sentimentality and emotional attachment to animals is only achieved by anthropomorphising the animal, and this is blatantly wrong - non-human animals should never be treated the same as other humans (and seeing how many humans treat each other, I would have to agree with part of that statement). This is hypocrisy. It anthropomorphises the animal to assume that it has NONE of the same characteristics as humans. This is ignorance. People who perceive to approach animal rights from the animal's point of view are kidding themselves. You can NEVER know what an animal is thinking unless you have a telepathic link to its mind. HOW they think is also not to be judged. So rather than dismissing them as being not-human, and therefore not worthy of human interpretation, and consequently subject them to less respect than another human is entitled, isn't it safer and more responsible to treat them with some manner of respect and to treat them in, simply, the only way we know how - to anthropomorphise. Anyone who says they can do it without anthropomorphising is a liar.
Humans control this planet. Whether or not that is how it should be, that is how it is. This gives us responsibility for, and to, the other creatures which inhabit this planet with us. I'm not talking about dominance or ownership, but responsibility. This includes respect. Most people could say they respect the power of the lion, or the wolf, and respect the majesty and intelligence of the elephant or the dolphin, but some people cannot (or choose not to) say the same about pets. The dog, the cat, the rat, the mouse, the ferret.. These animals all deserve respect as pets, and as animals in their own right. As many of these are now pet species, they need to be respected as pet species. To treat them the same as a wild animal is not only preposterous, it is blatantly unfair to the animal. ARA arguments against the keeping of animal companions denegrate this respect, and cheapen the inherent value of the animal, as an animal which happens to be a pet.
Most of us have learned to make the distinction between ownership and companionship, whereas
many who speak out against having animals as pets have yet to discover this. For the purpose of this argument,
I use the words 'pet' and 'companion' interchangeably, because for me, there is no distinction. If an animal is
a pet, it is a companion. If you purport to 'own' it, it is merely 'stock'. That is the big difference, and having
an animal as stock is an entirely different argument, dependent on an entirely different set of circumstances.
One cannot put into words just how much having an animal share your life as a companion, enriches both your lives as a whole. Even though most often the animal becomes dependant on you, as the human, this does not change the nature of that animal as a part of your family. You share its life as much as it shares yours. As someone who finds animals most often preferable companions to people, I have found that my animal friends benefit as much from my attention as I do from theirs. And I see to that.
If you are to care for an animal as a companion, then you would naturally want to see its happiness and welfare maximised. To classify all who share their homes and lives with animals as 'inhumane' is preposterous. Those of us who love our animals as part of our family are insulted. All that tells me is that those people have never had the benefit of true animal interaction, and quite frankly, that's their loss. I have nothing but pity for them.
I am a breeder, and every single one of my animals is a pet - a companion. I would not have an animal that I was not prepared to call a companion, but that is merely my view. I will not publicly berate those who keep animals merely as stock, because whilst I am firm in my beliefs, I find no justification at all in which to force those beliefs on anyone else. It's not my place to judge, as I'm not, and never will be, perfect. This is aside from the fact that there are a plethora of reasons why people keep livestock. Most are good reasons. Most who keep livestock have their life savings invested in such stock, and the animal has value, both monetarily and aesthetically. Its health and welfare are paramount to the lives of the people who own them, and for whatever reason this is so, it still means that the animals are cared for extremely well.
Those animals bred for show purposes (dog shows, cat shows, mouse shows, horse events) are
most often cared for and looked after better than any other animal, and fare better than most humans can profess.
Controlled diets, regular exercise and grooming, constant care and attention are all a part of these animals' lives.
Such lavished attention cannot possibly be considered 'inhumane' or 'cruel'. It is not for 'celebrity status' of
humans that these animals are shown - it is most often pride in the welfare of the animal, its beauty and physique,
its skill and value as an animal in itself. They grab attention (and anyone who thinks that animals can't appreciate
attention, and that animals don't pose and lap up adoration and affection, doesn't know much about animals).
Animal rights are important, and there are things which happen to animals which are intolerable, but before you go about belittling those of us who DO care, you may want to think about carefully explaining and detailing every single one of those viewpoints with adequate justifications and examples. You will have to talk to every person who has an animal, and inspect every single animal considered as a pet, their living conditions, their quality of life, and their well-being in general. You will have to assess each animal's behaviour, every person who has an animal's behaviour towards that animal and determine if it is inhumane. You will have to do that for every person in the entire world, and you will have to use specific and consistent criteria for each, criteria which is universally accepted. If even ONE animal does not suffer (or appear to), is looked after with such care and attention as to be expected from a person who has pets, then your entire generalisation is wrong, and cannot be justified.