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RIP Hammie-Boy

Living with hamsters as pets guarantees frequent tragedy.

As recently as Sunday, little Hefner was healthy and full of beans. On Tuesday night, he showed signs of serious illness, with a belly full of scabs and infection. I brought him to the vet on Wednesday, where the kind Dr. Gibbs gave him a shot of cortisone to slow the growth of (suspected) cancer and a shot of antibiotics to kill the secondary infection from his chewing on the growths. She said that if he responded well to those, she could compound him treatment to give him another week or two. Then he had a healthy and relatively energetic night and day today. Wouldn't you rather go when you felt well than suffer for a week or two? So we fed him his favorite foods - blueberries and nuts - and cuddled the little boy, then brought him over to the vet.

The nurses at the front desk didn't even check us in, saw the teary eyes and brought us straight to an exam room. After some time alone with the sleepy Hammie-Boy, Dr. Gibbs took him to the euthanization room, and a few minutes later he returned asleep but not breathing in his ball. She said that he was full of tumors when she felt him after the procedure, so we had made the best decision.

I dug a hole in the rodent cemetery in the back yard and buried him in his favorite toy, his ball, with a pint of blueberries.

Hefner was the gentlest, most easy-going, but most curious hamster I've ever known. He would run in his ball for hours. He let little kids squeeze him and wouldn't bite. He would sleep in your lap. He loved peoples' shoes. He took food so carefully from your hand that he'd sometimes drop it. He invented the litter box for himself so he wouldn't have to sleep in a mess. He was the best hamster ever.

We get so attached to our little friends. I'm not sure I want to keep doing this every few years. Perhaps a bit of a break before another little Rodent-American.




( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 20th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
So sorry, Chris. You write so mindfully about your pet-friends that I am sure they are as lucky to have you as you are them. I will never forget your post about feeding your sweet old cat her tuna and roses for her last few days. If how we treat our fellow creatures matters to the cosmos as I have to believe it does, your life is making some difference for the good.


Edited at 2009-11-20 09:33 am (UTC)
Nov. 20th, 2009 09:36 am (UTC)
Oh Chris, I'm so sorry.
Nov. 20th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC)

It's tough to schedule your own heartbreak like clockwork. I'm glad you make it easier on them.
Nov. 20th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
We and our rodents sympathize.
Nov. 20th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
Been there, dug the tiny graves, given the tearful eulogies. Thinking about you.
Nov. 20th, 2009 11:39 am (UTC)
Chris, I'm very sorry.
Nov. 20th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss.

I used to tell people that we have a small dog because the guys don't like big dogs enough to want to live with one, and this is not untrue. But one day timprov looked at me and said, "Yes, but we also have a small dog because we know you, and breeds like poodles are very long-lived, and losing a dog every 8-10 years would just about kill you, whereas 15-20 you might just get through." And yah. He's right. You do have to know yourself on these things. I admire people who can let themselves love critters who flicker out that fast.
Nov. 20th, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
After over a decade of owning African pygmy hedgehogs, Evon and I decided against getting another when the last one passed on. The major tipping point was the retirement of the only Seattle vet who understood exotic animals. It's given us some space to decide whether we want to bring another one in, or maybe get some other kind of pet. If Spike, Dexter, Tipsy, Scrabble, Radar, Orly, Idlewild, and Harley are the only hedgehogs we get, that'll still be plenty of entertainment.

(Deleted comment)
Nov. 20th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)

I'm so sorry.
Nov. 20th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about Hefner. You have my condolences on the loss of a good little furry friend.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 20th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about it my friend. I couldn't have a hamster because, as you say, they are just too mortal. Perhaps you should try a lizard or a cat or something.
Nov. 20th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry for you both. Hammy had good humans, no wonder he was such a happy hamster.
Nov. 20th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
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