I wanted a girl hamster. My local stores only carried males. I only had males. And my only two children are males. I only have one female pet, my elderly dog Chloe. I wanted to tip the scales in this home! When I was visiting my parents for the holidays I knew I would be heading to their Petsmart before we left to return to Maryland. I knew I’d bring with us a girl Syrian hamster.
So, on Christmas Day, it rained. It was absolutely dreary. Later in the evening there would be a gale. My husband and myself took the kids and we headed to Petsmart before the storm and because we knew it was open and we planned to leave early the very next day to return home. This was my Christmas gift to myself. I was SO excited I could hardly contain myself.
We arrived and the sale in the store had wiped the place out. It was unexpectedly busy. I made a straight line to the back where the hamsters were housed. I peered in an igloo for the Syrian hamster cage and I saw a lot of white. I was excited! I hadn’t gone in there with any colors in mind. Only that since I had a long hair I’d like to have a short hair. The container stated it was Short hair (But they were certainly incorrect! She was long haired!). An employee was right there and asked if I wanted to see them. I felt my voice catch!
He lifted the igloo and I saw 3 hamsters. ALL that was left for Syrians. They were all sleeping in a huddle on their backs. That was why I saw all white. When they stirred to life Penny was the first I saw. She was alert and ready to go. She was gorgeous – a sable banded, eye rings and all. She was the most vibrant and vivacious of them all. I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even think I noticed the other two sadly as that sounds. “That one,” I said.
As soon as she was in her temporary travel bin at my parents home she was full of life. A wheel of her OWN! (I had brought a spare wheel with us on the trip down as I had planned for her). And she backed right into her sand box and wee wee’d like she had been litter trained all her life. She was active and rambunctious and just so easy to fall in love with.
I never thought of hamsters as intelligent but she was. She was incredibly bright. It’s difficult to explain how I know this. But I did. Intelligence shined in her eyes.
And feline-like she would prance about and rubbed against things and us. I’m starting to lose steam here as I just get emotionally exhausted.
The most touching aspect of this ham’s spirit was the maternal spirit. Immediately she was drawn to and trusting of and affection to my children. She did not shy away from curious hands. Even my infant. She claimed them as her own. She crawled on them and rubbed against them and gave them kisses. She wiggled when I held her but she was still and patient when my 3-year-old at the time – would hold her.
She chirped happily to greet me. She was very vocal though until the end I never heard vocal for negatives. Until the very end she didn’t want to be touched and screeched quite a bit when I touched her. So, I gave her my gentle voice instead and touched her much less.
She was the bravest hamster I’ve ever had so far. The most spirited. The most rambunctious and outgoing. She was an acrobat and gymnast. She was robust and intelligent and a big eater. She could be destructive but never in any way that was unsafe or a real issue or that ever made me cross. And it wasn’t always. But she had the ability. Her strength and stamina could be revered.
As I am not sure how old hamsters are when they are for sell at Petsmart I could only guess. I guessed at the higher end and surmised she would have turned about a year old around now. That she would have been born sometime in November to be able to be sold by Christmas.
Of all the hamsters I looked most forward to decorating her cage for Christmas as she was my true Christmas ham. All the festive bedding I recently purchased was with her mostly in mind. She was the hamster I bought the cardboard climber Christmas tree for.
I just buried her in the flower bed right outside my kitchen window. I can think of her every time I set my coffee pot. Or wash my dishes. It was a sunny spot so warm in the cold 20 degree weather we are having today. I placed her inside her magenta floral patterned tissue box. I placed lovely shimmering stones on top of her grave. It was a solitary gesture. I could have made this a life lesson for my now 4-year-old. But instead I decided to just have that moment for me and her.
You broke the mold Penny Lane. There will never be a hamster exactly like you. I never felt like you were MY hamster but instead that WE were YOUR people. Thank you for having us darling.