Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Hamster

In an earlier post I mentioned a pet sitting adventure where Terry failed miserably, although I give him kudos for trying.

Jennifer was in about grade 7 and decided she wanted her own pet hamster. With her babysitting money she purchased the hamster as well as all of the paraphernalia associated with hamster ownership. To her credit she did a good job looking after it since I proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen a hamster is just a rodent with a cute coat. Jennifer became a good hamster caregiver………..until that fateful day.

It was one of the first beautifully warm Saturdays in June. The pool in the backyard was freshly re-opened for the season and Terry was tending to the gardens. Just as I was leaving to get groceries for the week Jennifer put the hamster into one of those round toy hamster balls to let him roll around the backyard while she cleaned out his cage. She asked Terry to keep an eye on the hamster while she cleaned out the cage. He said sure….how hard could it be? OK, maybe that’s not what he said but I bet that was what he was thinking!

A few minutes later Jennifer returned to the back yard and asked Terry where the hamster was. So intent on trying to determine the difference between weeds and flowers Terry did not notice the hamster had rolled into the pool. Terry quickly took action and fished the hamster ball from the depths of the water. There were no vital signs. Terry desperately tried to save the rodent’s life. He started CPR on the hamster. He put the hamster on its back and gently pushed on his chest to try to bring him back to life. Jennifer was the one who convinced Terry to “call it” and the time of death was approximately 15 minutes after I had left for groceries.

While Terry was very upset his first attempt to safe a life did not succeed, Jennifer dealt with her grief quite well.

Less than an hour later I arrived back home with a trunk full of groceries. In the meantime the hamster had been buried in the garden, the cage and all hamster belongs had been washed and donated to the kids Jennifer babysat around the corner. Any signs of hamster life in our household were completely gone.

While I was the one who never wanted the rodent in the house in the first place it did take me aback that a “family member” could be so quickly and easily discarded. Let’s hope Jennifer never has to make the decisions if we get put on life-support!