I’ll never forget our first hamster. He (or possibly she) was a cute little ball of white fur or maybe it was brown. I guess when I say I’ll never forget our first hamster, what I mean is I’ll never forget what happened to our first hamster, Snickers.
We knew Snickers was special the moment we saw him in the huge glass hamster case at the pet shop. I reached in to pick him up and he reared on his hind legs and tried to swat my finger away with powerful albeit tiny paws. This hamster had spunk. Plus he was only $5.99.
We took him to the cash register and the clerk suggested a few accessories we would need in order to properly care for a hamster. The total came to $213.17.
I know this seems a little high but the clerk explained that a hamster is an extremely complex life form. As such, it requires a very fancy cage called a “habitat,” which is a complicated system of plastic containers connected to a sophisticated series of tunnels leading to various secret passageways and burial chambers. Our hamster would need this habitat, she assured us, if he was ever going to thrive.
We bought this story hook, line and sinker, not to mention water bottle, bedding and food (ten-pound bag). We headed home with Snickers safely enclosed in a cardboard carrying case with handle ($3.99), and his habitat securely tied to the luggage rack of the car (twine $.99).
After several hours of intense concentration (and some dazzling duct-tape wizardry), we plopped Snickers into his newly assembled habitat where he quickly began chewing his way out. Occasionally, we would take Snickers out of his habitat and try to pet him while he ran full throttle over our hands, up our arms and down our legs.
What fun we had with the little guy (or gal)!
Little did we know then what tragic circumstances lay ahead for our beloved Snickers – a tragic circumstance by the name of Lucy, our dog. We thought Lucy was a pretty nice dog until the day we discovered that underneath her sweetness-and-light exterior lurked the primitive brain of a hunter/killer.
Her prey? Let’s just say Lucy enjoyed munching a Snickers now and then and I’m not referring to candy bars.
I still blame myself for Snickers’ death, which is why I am relating this story in the hope that others will learn the lesson for which our precious Snickers gave his (or her) life. And that lesson is this: Never leave a child who is holding a hamster alone in the same room with a dog who likes to eat them (hamsters, not children).
Or better yet, don’t leave the room at all, ever. In this case, I was gone only seconds when I heard a terrible commotion followed by the bloodcurdling scream of a child and the rodent-like heart-wrenching squeak of . . . a rodent.
It seems the worst had happened. Left to the supervision of a child, Lucy and Snickers had gotten into a deadly altercation. I ran back to the room to find the child dazed and in shock, Lucy cowering in shame and Snickers resting in peace.
It took us awhile to recover from the incident. We had to read When Bad Things Happen to Good Hamsters twice before we had the heart to make another trip to the pet shop to pick out Snickers #2.
Ironically, Lucy has just returned home from the animal hospital after a close brush with death because of an acute case of pancreatitis. The vet said Lucy would have to stick to a strict diet of chicken and rice. Anything else could kill her. We can only hope Snickers #2 has the good sense to stay out of her way – for both their sakes.
Until next time . . . I love you