I grew up with hamsters, so when my kid decided he wanted one for his birthday in December last year, I was totally OK with that.
Little did I know that things would turn grisly so quickly; apparently I have a gift for bringing chaos with me wherever I go.
The first small furry pets were a pair of little white mice named Finn and Jake, after my son’s favorite hipster cartoon “Adventure Time.” They lasted maybe two weeks.
One morning, we woke up to find one of the mice missing.
Since they were identical, there was no way to know which one, but my son said it was Finn and that he was “on an adventure.”
I didn’t say it to him, but I cringed at the thought of what adventure he might be on in my pantry or in my cat’s stomach.
We never did find Finn — despite frantic searching on my part — and the next morning, Jake was dead in his cage.
The theory is that Jake ate Finn and then died. I’ve seen no sign of that mouse since it went missing, so that theory is as good as any other.
Then we got a hamster. Just one. He was named Jake despite my attempts to give him his own identity.
He also turned out to be a she, which meant that he was meaner.
It’s common knowledge, people: Girl creatures are meaner than boy creatures. (Insert joke about women here.)
I never told my child Jake was a girl, because I feared that he would get angry at the hamster and not want to love him/her.
I don’t think it would have mattered, because there wasn’t a lot of love for Jake, since he/she was MEAN.
Not Taylor Swift mean, straight up biting mean. Like the kind of biting that draws blood. Jake was not messing around.
The lack of love for the hateful hamster did nothing to ease the pain of his untimely — and gruesome — demise.
Along with Jake we have Abbey, a 12-year-old cat who mostly ignores us and sleeps on the bunk bed all day, or hunts small adorable creatures outside that she can then leave in front of our door.
We also have The Red Power Ranger, a red Betta fish that just swims around boringly.
Abbey didn’t really pay much attention to Jake, until late Sunday night, early Monday morning.
My child and I — thankfully — slept through the hamster massacre of 2013.
At some point in the night, Jake escaped his cage.
Abbey, who was sleeping on the top bunk in my child’s room, must have seen him/her from her perch.
I cannot tell you exactly what happened, but as my 4 year old and I walked from the bedrooms into the living room Monday morning on the way to school and work, I noticed a little dark ball on the floor.
Colin: “What’s that? Is that Jake? Is that my hamster?!!!”
It was his hamster, stiff and dead, his leg a little damp-looking.
Abbey was dozing in the living room chair, just watching us. I got my kid closed into my bedroom and on the phone with his daddy.
Meanwhile, I had to give the mean hamster that died how it lived (with cruel, biting teeth) a proper send-off, one that involved a broom and dust pan and a Kroger bag.
So Friday, we met Colin’s daddy at PetCo to pick out a new hamster and a more secure (we hope) cage.
After forcing the apathetic employee to wake several sleepy hamsters so that my kid could pick the perfect one, he found the one he wanted: the biggest one they had, of course, with little red eyes and, it appears, a decent disposition.
Which was a good thing when he attempted to escape his box on Interstate 20.
I’m driving the new hamster — named Spiderman — home when I look down in my passenger seat to see his little pink nose poking out of the hole he has created in the carrier box.
Thankfully, I was at my exit and was able to get off quickly, though not before he had his head out of the box.
There was a moment of complete terror at the thought of a hamster scurrying around my car as I drove on I-20.
I kept my hand over the hole, pushing his face back in. He never bit me, but he pushed back.
I was able to get him and the box into his cage after pulling off in a shopping center, and the rest of the way home was uneventful.
So now Spiderman and The Red Power Ranger are chilling in my kid’s room and I have to figure out how to get hamster pee out of car seats.
Viva la Spiderman!
Amber Pittman is the editor of electronic media for The Covington News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org com.