When our kids swore up and down that they would look after whatever pet they’d begged us for, we all know that it’s me who was going to end up looking after it, right? Will I ever learn? A lot can happen in 24 hours.
I’ve been left in charge of my 12-year old daughter’s pets while she is away at camp. I’m a little surprised this responsibility was conferred upon me again given the humiliation suffered in the summer of 2010 (the hamster and I). The elaborately masterminded jailbreak (hamster) and lots of screaming (me), is now affectionately referred to in our family as The Pumpkinseed Redemption.
Nevertheless, my daughter has a new hamster now (not my fault; just a coincidence) and once again, she asked me to look after her. For a full week I have dutifully changed her water and fed her, even taking her out of her habitat thingie once or twice and letting her run all over my daughter’s bed (hey, she lets the hamster do it so why not me?).
Then last night before my own evening ablutions, I went to check on little Miss Maggie (so named after my daughter’s middle name, which is probably more socially acceptable than saying she named the hamster after her great-grandmother). Maggie was standing on her sleeping cave just staring out into space. She was alive, but somehow overnight she had grown these two massive tumours on the side of her neck. I mean, MASSIVE. Quasimodo had a pimple on his back compared to Maggie’s contusions. “Oh no. Oh no. Please, no.” I started muttering to myself. “Please don’t die” but I couldn’t help imagining the letter I would be writing the next day: “Dear Emily, It’s about your hamster …Yeah, I know… again.” Just how does a hamster go from the picture of health to stage four Hodgkin’s in 24 hours?
Because I am not qualified to administer chemotherapy, I quickly run downstairs and grab some lettuce. If she was going to die she was going to damn well have her Last Supper. I coaxed her to the front of the cage with the lettuce. She looks at me. She looks at the lettuce. She looks at me. She looks at the lettuce. I know I should have washed it first but there wasn’t any time. Ignoring my lettuce and my pleas she waddles to the back of her cage, behind the hamster wheel, to breathe her last breath I am sure.
Only instead, she proceeds to heave her two massive tumours in a neat little corner of her cage. Lardass Barfarama was a day in the park compared to Maggie spewing what looked like three times her body weight (oh sorry, were you eating?). It was the most horrifying and revolting thing I have seen since my kids were in diapers. What she does next is even more appalling. She walks back over to where my hand is still frozen in its outstretched manner, still holding the lettuce offering which she now peacefully takes it out of my hand and proceeds to munch. Just needed to make some room, I guess.
So Maggie is not, in fact, dying of cancer, but she is, however, bulimic. I am now off to google nutritional and psychological counselling for hamsters. Keep Maggie in your prayers.