Ratatouille (Hoarder Glen)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As I mentioned last week, I am offering a recap of the season finale of Hoarders to anyone who is interested. Just think about it: You still get the Hoarders shock value, but in less time than it takes to watch the actual episode (unless you read realllllllllllly slowly)!

The season finale of Hoarders goes out with a bang featuring two hoarders who have a problem with keeping too many animals in their homes. Here we meet Glen and Lisa.

Let’s take a look at Glen first …

Ratastic.
In what has to be the understatement of the century, Glen begins his Hoarders segment by stating, “I’ll readily admit that I have way too many rats” (and for some reason I’m picturing Chandler standing in the middle of the infestation, throwing his arms out to his sides exclaiming, “Could there be any more rats?”). But Glen loves his rats. He believes that rats are cool rodents with unique personalities and heightened intelligence, whereas all I can think of is BUBONIC PLAGUE BUBONIC PLAUGE BUBONIC PLAGUE!!!!

It’s obviously not unheard of to have a rat for a pet. Clay had a rat growing up that he just confirmed was named Snowball, but actually went by the name Ratzo (He and I are going to have to talk about this later because those are two wildly different names that come with two wildly different personality characteristics). Also, one of my best friends currently owns a few rats, and they’re adorable. I generally like mice and rats … so long as they’re from a pet store and didn’t just crawl right out of a sewer.

Hoarders estimates that Glen has over a thousand rats in his home. Glen says that his collection started with just three in one cage that eventually broke out, chewed a hole through the wall, and mated an astronomical amount of times.

My question is this - how do you not notice!? A.) How do you not notice that your rats escaped from their cage? and B.) How do you not notice that said rats chewed a hole in your wall? I’ve never tried digging through my walls, but I’ve read The Shawshank Redemption, and I know for a fact you can’t just tunnel through a wall in an afternoon. It takes time. You can’t tell me that this guy never walked past the hole and noticed as it started to get bigger. And finally, C.) Once rats began falling out of your walls and ceiling wouldn’t you, oh-I-don’t-know, call someone?

Because you know what rats ultimately do when they crawl into walls? They DIE. I know this because more than one rat has moved on to the big cheese wheel in the sky within the confines of my in-laws’ walls (they live in a very heavily wooded area with all kinds of critters around). And you don’t hear rats dying. There is no beep of a flat-line. There are no audibly squeaked last words. There is no formal rat obituary that shows up in the Sunday paper. The only way you know that a rat has kicked it in your wall is because you smell it. Whole sections of my in-law’s house have been put in quarantine because the scent of rotten rodent carcass (say that ten times fast) is overwhelming. That is not an odor that can be Febreezed out, my friends. That kind of stank calls for lots of plug-ins, patience and prayers. So if you rent out to a thousand and some rats, I can only imagine the stench that must be radiating from Glen’s house.
 
As Glen introduces us to his little friends, he discusses how difficult it is to live in a house with over a thousand rats (you don’t say?). Glen has trouble sleeping because his rats have a tendency to lick the moisture off his eyes and lips whenever he tries to lie still. Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time Clayton kept trying to lick my eyeballs when I was trying to sleep …

My precious.

Glen feeds his rat army by dumping corn kernels and sunflower fields on almost every flat surface of his home. He then kicks back and listens to the sound of a thousand rats nibbling their meal, equating the experience to standing in a rainforest as rain sprinkles across the canopy.

I’m going to wait a second and let that whole scenario wash over you.

Sufficiently creeped out yet? Think Glen is so definitely single? Let’s continue…

Glen’s rat hoarding was, like most hoarding cases, triggered by a tragedy that was never properly dealt with. On September 11th, 1989, Glen’s wife died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 39. Glen’s misplaced grief was channeled into his pet rats and he began seeking solace in their company. However, I have full confidence that Glen’s wife wouldn’t want him to replace his memories of her with a gaggle of rodents. Letting rats nest in your hair (I.KID.YOU.NOT.) is not a sufficient outlet for grief. The shock and overwhelming depression from a tragedy can do goofy things to your mind, and it’s sad to think that situations like this could be avoided all together if the appropriate resources were offered to people like Glen right after his tremendous loss. Actually, this episode is making me more uncomfortable than normal because this is clearly a broken man who seriously loves these furry little critters.

Dr. Zasio comes to the rescue, helping Glen bring these feelings to the surface and find the deeper meaning behind his hoarding. She asks Glen which of his rats is his favorite, and Glen swallows sobs as he tearfully admits that his most favorite rat, a female, died earlier that week. That’s heartbreaking. Losing a beloved pet is a traumatizing experience, but I couldn’t help but wonder how he could even find his favorite rat amongst the horde (ha! HORDE. HOARD. GET IT?). The cameras have already shown us several shots of the rat pack (ha! RAT PACK. GET IT?), and I’m pretty sure all the rats are some sort of gray/black/white combo, making it almost impossible to decipher between them. It would be like trying to pick out your favorite penguin on an iceberg or your favorite Guidette at the Jersey Shore. I’d never be able to single out of my favorite … unless I tagged it with a magic marker or a highlighter or … something.

Dr. Zasio is fearful that following through with Animal Control’s orders to humanely remove the rats from his home will set off Glen’s anguish over losing his wife, and that he will not be able to tolerate living alone without his pets. But Glen actually held it together pretty well as he watched his rats get plucked out of his home one by one, recognizing that these animals needed to be in a safer, healither environment. He stood off to the side quietly, observing the rescuers as they maneuvered bins of rats into the back of a semi.

But then stuff started to real … Glen was called to a veterinarian tent where professionals were offering immediate health care to sick or injured rats. One of his rats had a severe infection caused by a bite to the testicles that ultimately resulted in half of his insides hanging outside. Glen was told the rat was in horrific pain and the absolute best thing they could do was put the rat down to end his/her suffering (I don’t know why I put a “his/her”. If a bite to the testicles is any indication of your sex … ). Glen solemnly agreed, and the little guy was gently put out of his misery.

Now, I am woman enough to admit that I had to press pause for a second to wipe some tears out of my eyes. They showed the rat’s wound and yes, putting him down was the most humane thing anyone could have done at that moment. And ... I feel for you, Glen. That's horrible.

Later in the cleanup, Glen finally locates the one rat he wished to keep, Commander Whitehead. During Commander Whitehead’s vet examination, Glen is surprised to learn that Commander Whitehead is actually a chick rat, but Glen says that’s okay because women can be commanders and generals, too. Everyone loves equality.

In order to find every last one of Glen’s rats, workers had to literally dig into the walls and knock down the kitchen cupboards. His house was essentially gutted. The crew even removes his tub in order to find another bunch of rats that needed to be removed, but this allowed them to tally the number of rats at about 2,000.

He had 2,000 rats living in his home.

But I will give it to Glen: He may have countless rats, but he loves them all. He truly, honest-to-goodness loves them. He mourns each one when the die, and celebrates each one that is born. He requested to have a moment to say goodbye to all of them before they were taken away to be adopted.

Now, I just have a really hard time believing that his home was fit to live in after all of this. Between the feces, structural damage, and just general grossness of owning that many pets, I can’t honestly think that that home is sanitary. Mr. Clean and some elbow grease alone can’t fix that. I'm disappointed that Hoarders didn't adress that ...

Also on the episode was Lisa. But I don’t really feel like going over Lisa’s story because her hoarding problem is centered around her 40-50 cats. Wait, you’re telling me that a single, middle-aged woman has too many cats? Color me surprised …

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2 comments

  1. Damn, you are funny girl. I'm going to bookmark you.

    2 days ago my daughter adopted one of Glen's rats. Yes, we now have one of Glen's rats in our home:)
    We went through Any Rat Rescue and it is a very cool organization.

    The rat was named Sparkle, but my daughter re-named him Alphonse. Anyway he is a rather sizable rat, but I swear the poor guy is suffering from PTSD. He is very shy and anti-social. I am confident, however, that my daughter can ultimately make him feel safe and loved and his personality will emerge eventually.

    Just wanted to give you a heart-warming story about how one of Glen's rats ended up warm and happy in Phoenix:)

    As I said you are a very funny writer and I will bookmark you:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey! Thank you so much for the comment!

    That is beyond AWESOME that you and your daughter adopted one of Glen's rats!

    I don't know much about rats (obviously), but I don't find it too surprising that Alphonse is feeling a little shy. He's probably wondering where his 2,000 brother and sisters are. He's probably not use to all the elbow room! ;)

    But again, thank you so much for sharing! That definitely made my day! :)

    ReplyDelete

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