When a reader of the blog Gothamist sent in a picture of a big fat rat stuck in a sidewalk, struggling to release itself from two paving stones, you’d assume the city would collectively recoil. Instead, when the so-called “Sad Rat” appeared on the blog, people found it, well, kind of adorable. Especially since it was sort of sitting up, like a person. And it sort of looked like it had hands. (Did you know that about rats? They have little people paws.) First readers posted surprisingly sympathetic responses to the picture (“where is he? i want to go help him. how sad,” one commenter wrote). Then, trapped upright at their office desks, they began creating Photoshopped versions of the image. Some gave the little guy some company, in the form of other rats or friendly animals. Others put him in funny situations, like playing the xylophone, chatting with Larry King, or as Jesus in Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The rat turned out to be dead, which provoked still more sympathetic comments. In a poll conducted soon after, 42 percent of voters claimed that if they had been walking by, they would have helped the poor rodent.